With the reality of quarantines and webcam meetings dominating the workday and the convenience of movie streaming and doorstep delivery, mixing with everything else, the world continues to shrink – from the walls of our homes to the corners of our screens.
The warm sunshine of a spring day has been replaced for so many by the captivating pixelated glow of a social media feed, and all too often, it can seem as though its trance is inescapable. As the storm clouds of a tumultuous year break away to the brighter dawn ahead, those transfixed homebodies may now find themselves on a different path – one that leads, quite literally, back to their roots.
For those searching to escape what’s keeping us in by venturing out, science says there’s more to be found than just fresh air. According to the Florida Department of Health, the benefits of spending time outdoors extend far beyond the physical exercise and sun-kissed vitamin D boost Floridians have come to expect.
Spending as little as five minutes in nature can have a palpable effect on relaxation, which can help lower blood pressure and decrease stress-compounding cortisol hormones. Further, outdoor excursions can potentially lead to increased focus, better concentration, and a boost in critical thinking among regular enthusiasts.
To take full advantage of this evergreen elixir, immerse yourself amidst the full breadth of our local flora and fauna rather than the manicured façade of your front yard. It is in this regard, luckily, that living in “Florida’s Natural Choice” has its advantages. Situated conveniently within the Sanford-Lake Mary area, the Black Bear Wilderness Area comprises more than 1,600 acres of Florida’s most enchanting natural wilderness and serves as a protected environment for the countless unique species that call it home.
Preserved by Seminole County since 1994, this majestic slice of St. Johns floodplain has been meticulously curated to allow visitors to journey through its habitats with remarkable ease. The brainchild of Seminole County Natural Lands manager Jim Duby, Black Bear’s 7.1-mile trail loop expertly marries its more adventurous stretches with well-kept raised paths and a series of wetland boardwalks that grant hikers a blissful scene of palmettos, cypress trees, and even the occasional wildlife sighting. For those whose communing with nature requires a more extended stay, Black Bear also offers campsites that can be conveniently reserved online.
Whether you’re looking to get back on track or just looking for a change of pace, Seminole County’s many parks, trails, and natural lands offer boundless opportunities for the aspiring adventurer in all of us. For more information, please visit SeminoleCountyFL.gov/parks or call 407-665-2001.
Josh Holder is a public communications coordinator for Seminole County Government, avid outdoor enthusiast, and lifelong Seminole County resident.
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