by Marty Proctor, South Lake Tablet

As soon as the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook and Trailhead ribbon was cut in 2014, Greg Gensheimer, president of Green Mountain Scenic Byway, Inc. (GMSB) said, “I think we should have gone higher.”  So immediately Greg and the GMSB team started laying the groundwork to “raise the roof” an additional 40’ for better viewing of Lake Apopka, downtown Orlando and the rocket launches out on the cape.  Greg added, “Just about every recent reviewer of this park raves about it but they all added….if it was only taller…imagine the view.”  As the trees around it kept growing taller and taller Gensheimer knew it wasn’t “if” but “when.” 

Green Mountain Scenic Overlook and Trailhead near Minneola overlooks miles of wilderness and waterways under preservation and/or restoration.  It is also the western trailhead for the Lake Apopka Loop Trail.  The trail system currently connects the overlook 17 miles around the northern half of the lake to Magnolia Park in Orange County. 

The overlook as you see it today is the result of years of work by Gensheimer and the GMSB.  The idea was hatched in about 2005.  The design followed in 2010 and building the overlook started with a $682,000 grant in 2011.  Lake County added another $700,000 to fully construct all the facilities.  After winning that first grant in 2011, Gensheimer admitted, “if I had known how difficult it was to get that park funded and built, I probably never would have tried.” 

Soon enough, we won’t have to “imagine” that view from a taller tower.  We will be able to see it ourselves.  GMSB won another grant from the same National Scenic Byway Program of $650,000 to build a 40’ taller deck, complete with an elevator.  Lake County committed to an equal match for a total cost of $1.3 million. 

The Green Mountain Scenic Byway is a popular recreational roadway resource. The Byway is an international destination for touring and competitive cyclists and is one of the most heavily used cycling routes in Florida. It is also extremely popular with motorcyclists, car clubs, and Sunday drivers who are drawn to the Byways rolling hills and gentle curves.  The new overlook connection today to the Lake Apopka North Shore provides an off-road alternative to the Byway.  The entire area is a bird-watching and wildlife-viewing destination. 

Learn more about the Green Mountain Scenic Byway, Inc., an all-volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit, the overlook, and much other local information at:  Green Mountain Scenic Byway

The Trailhead is located on CR455 near Minneola. 

More about the existing overlook and trailhead at:   Green Mountain Scenic Overlook and Trailhead (Lake County, Florida) – Wikipedia

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