Sumter County Highpoint Trip Report

three areas of 150+ feet (northern, middle, southern)

Date: April 17, 2007
Author: John Mitchler

Set in the rolling hills of central Florida, the 3 rises of Sumter County are located along the Lake-Sumter county line in northeast Sumter County, northwest of Orlando and east of I-75.

The Sumter County experience (as described in Fred Lobdell’s trip reports) has been annihilated. This was forecast in Bill Jacob’s trip reports. My visit felt virgin because the rural nature of this area has been replaced by an enormous development called The Villages. You may have seen ads on television for this “active 55+ adult community” which has consumed much of the county. The tree-shaded lanes have been replaced by golf courses and winding drives and horse riders have been replaced by golf carts (in line at MacDonald’s drive- through lanes). The rolling hills and bulls-eye topography of the topo map remains relatively intact but there is an extensive new road system covering the area south of Lake Miona and north of CR 466A. I obtained a crude road map at one of the development’s country clubs and they told me that better maps are sold at local gas stations.

I visited Sumter County during a business trip to Orlando. I had a free day and instead of choosing to spend it at the beach, I elected to visit the group of easy CoHPs northwest of Orlando. I spent much of the day figuring out Sumter, not counting an hour wasted because I mistakenly took CR 466 east from Oxford instead of taking CR 466A east of Wildwood. Don’t mix up those two.

From Orlando, drive 50 miles northwest on the Florida Turnpike. Take Exit 304 (about 5 miles east of I-75) and drive 2.0 miles north on US 301 and turn right (east) on CR 466A. Drive 4.5 miles to Morse Boulevard. Two of the areas lay north of you (left) and one of the areas is southeast (ahead to the right).

I hope my descriptions are thorough enough that you don’t need a topo map but if you have a topo map, it my help to find the three 150-foot hills as described as follows.

Area #1, the Northern Area (with a 152-foot spot elevation) is just south of the center of section 25 and is covered by a golf course and ranch homes. The hill is surrounded on the north and east by Odell Drive and on the west by Morse Boulevard. The west side of this highpoint hill is a golf course, as is the swampy area in the northwest quarter of section 25.

Area #2, the Middle Area is a mile to the south in the west half of section 36, and is covered in homes. This highpoint hill is bordered on the east by Morse Boulevard and on the south by Bonita Road.

Area #3, the Southern Area is 1.5 miles to the southeast, in the southeast of section 1, just south of the bend in CR 466A. It is covered by a fenced gravel operation that is now a landfill which has an entrance road on the east side of the highpoint hill, along the county line. Access is better up the west side of this highpoint hill.

After driving 4.5 miles east from US 301 on CR 466A, turn left (north) on Morse Boulevard. Go 0.5 mile as this road bends to the northwest and turn right (northeast) on Odell Circle. Drive a bit less than 2 miles on Odell Circle to Corbett Drive. Park at this intersection.

Note: In spring of 2007, Corbett Drive was new and led to undeveloped land in the west half of the southeast quarter of section 25.

Note: Odell Circle crosses Morse Boulevard about 0.5 mile north of CR 466A and makes a few broad curves as in goes north through section 36 into section 25 where in bends back west in the north half of section 25 (along the base of the northern highpoint hill) to meet Morse Boulevard just south of the swamp in northwest section 25.

Note: There are no villas or development on the right (east) of Odell Circle about half way between Morse Boulevard and Corbett Drive, in the west half of the northeast quarter of section 36.

Note: The Villages offers inexpensive accommodations for visitors interested in the lifestyle there (or the CoHP?). Try or 352-753-2270 or 800-245-1081.

Note: As of December 2007, did not have the current road network, except for the Middle Area near Bonita Drive.

From the intersection of Odell Circle and Corbett Drive, take the sidewalk north along Odell Circle and leave it to enter the golf course to the west. Walk along the cart path and ascend the east side of the highpoint hill. I was able to take this path west along the top of the hill to the highest ground (the 150- foot contour area). Watching for foursomes on the links, I could reach “drain 275” near the highest palms. I returned to the car and drove 0.8 mile north on Odell Circle as curved to the west, first passing Madison Villas, and then reaching the Villages of Mallory Square. I turned left (south) into the homes in search of easier access to the golf course (from up on top of the highpoint hill) and to look for higher ground. I could reach the golf course by walking between houses and I did not see anything particularly higher than the non-man made rises on the golf course.

Continue west on Odell Circle to reach Morse Boulevard at the base of the highpoint hill (near the swamp edge in northwest quarter of section 25). Turn left (south) and go a mile as Morse Boulevard makes a bend to the east before ascending the southeast edge of the middle highpoint hill. The intersection with Bonita Road is quite an elaborate affair, with a facility shed in the center of the circle, as I recall. Turn right (west) on Bonita Road and go about 0.3 mile. Turn right (north) on Canal Street and ascend to the top of the highpoint hill. You’ll need to pass through a security gate on Canal Street. Proceed on Canal for a quarter mile and turn right (east) on Parksville Path, then right (south) on Blackville Place, then left (east) on Yemasee Loop. Immediately reach Cordova Circle on your right (south) and park. This junction is the highest ground of the middle area, although it took a couple walks around Cordova Circle to convince myself of that (plus a walk out to the Bonita/Morse Boulevard circle and a walk along Yemasee Loop.

On to the southern area! Retrace the route back to Morse Boulevard and go back south to CR 466A. Turn left (east) and drive a quarter mile. In spring of 2007, strip malls were being built on the north and south sides of CR 466A, along the stretch of road where CR 466A bends to the southeast just before the Lake-Sumter county line (where “clay pits” appears on the topo on the north side of CR 466A). I parked in the strip mall north of CR 466A and walked south, crossing CR 466A to enter the rolling topography of the land just northwest of the highpoint hill. It appeared that a golf course might be built northwest of the hill. The land was in weeds and unobstructed up to a fence the marks the quarry/landfill operations on top of the highpoint hill. On my map, I drew the fence lines: the east-west northern boundary is a couple contours north of the 150-foot contour; the north-south western boundary is one contour west of the 150-foot contour. So you can pretty much hike up to the highest point from the grassy west side. The boundary fence goes uphill, across the top, and then down the highpoint hill on the west side. You can easily see where the fence is at its highest. At this point, inside the fence to the east, there is a perimeter road and past that are some vacant mining pits and past that is remnant ridge of sand with trees that appears to be the highest surviving ground of the 150-foot contour.

Before parking at the strip mall, I had previously tried to reach the 150-foot contour by driving CR 466A to almost the county line, turning right (south) on a dirt road that led to the entrance of the landfill operations (trailers, scale, etc.). There was lots of truck traffic on this lane and finding it off of CR 466A was problematic because I had to enter a new strip mall and drive around the lot heading south and then a bit east to reach the lane (the same maneuver that the trucks had to make. There was an open field on the east side of the highpoint hill, across the county line, in the southwest quarter of section 36. The boundary fence was posted: “No Trespassing, CR 466A Recycle Facility (357) 787-5651.”

I am eager to have someone test my observations, mileages, and roads. I am also eager to hear about the continuing development at the southern highpoint area (the strip malls and the fate of the landfill/quarry).