Yesterday I drove out to Kissimmee and visited the Osceola Environmental Study Center. This set of trails was included in Sandra Friend's 50 Hikes in Central Florida (1st Edition). Since the First Edition is ten years old, I like to double check whether the trails are still open. However, there is nothing about the trails on the Osceola School District web site, and my emails to the school district went unanswered.
But I was brave and drove out there anyway. Luckily for me, the trails were open, and the Center was open even on Thanksgiving weekend. (The Environmental Study Center is only open to the public on Saturday, from 10 to 5, and Sunday, from noon to 5.)
There are three trails, but only the Boardwalk seemed to get much use while I was out there. The Boardwalk Trail is just that, a boardwalk over the swamp. It was very nice to not have to trudge through the water, and the end of the boardwalk included a lazy alligator. (Actually, I'm not sure I've ever seen a non-lazy alligator.) While there were a few points along the boardwalk with loose boards, there were also new boards just waiting to be installed. Looks like the Boardwalk is here to stay.
I then walked back to the parking lot and walked along the driveway to the north, connecting with the Pine Woods Trail. In the first edition of the book, this trail was described as a 1.8 mile one way trail stretching north along South Poinciana Boulevard. Apparently the Osceola School District has abandoned most of it. It's now described as a third of a mile trail, and ends in a large amount of underbrush. If the trail extended any further, I was unable to find it.
This red blazed trail is a very muddy trail, with boards and metal planks strategically placed so you can balance your way past most of the mud. However, something's been digging into the dirt alongside the planks and piled up the excess dirt on the planks.
The final trail I took was Indian Mound Trail, which extended from the southern side of the museum. It also started out a bit muddy, but extended a ways into the woods. Near the end of the blue blazed trail there is an obvious fork in the trail. The right hand fork continues on to the Indian Mound, while the left hand unblazed fork continues on until it reaches a narrow stream. It's a good view, although a bit muddy near the end.
It's also a bit sad that the Osceola School Board hasn't had funding to update their trail brochure, which was published in 1996. According to the location map on the back of the brochure, you can get to the Florida Trail from the trails here. This hasn't been true in a long time. The Florida Trail is far to the east, with it's closes approach being 8.8 miles ENE.