Wilderness Lodge & Fort Wilderness Exercise Trail

Last week during our stay at the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge, I got up early one morning and went for a run on the exercise trail.  It starts at the Wilderness Lodge and goes over to the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.  This was definitely one of the major perks of staying at the Wilderness Lodge and I had been looking forward to this run in the weeks leading up to the trip.  When we checked into the hotel, I asked for a map of the exercise trail so I could get familiar with where I was going.  I haven’t spent much time in Fort Wilderness, so I didn’t want to be running in circles.

Fort Wilderness Exercise Trail

Fort Wilderness Recreation Map

It was a cool, foggy morning and I went out just after sunrise.  Guests were coming back to the Villas with fresh cups of coffee and breakfast from Roaring Fork, and the buses were just beginning to roll in.  I had been on this trail once before when hubs and I did the Wilderness Back Trail Adventure Segway Tour on our honeymoon, but being out this early in the morning was just breathtaking.  The sun was just peeking through the trees and trying to burn off the morning fog.  It was a little eerie, yet beautiful at the same time. 

On my way over to Fort Wilderness, I saw some pretty amazing things.  Near the beginning of the trail, I saw a grouping of pinecones out of the corner of my eye.  On closer inspection, I realized they were in the shape of Mickey Mouse!  What a cool hidden mickey find.  I sent the picture to Steve Barrett, the Hidden Mickey Guy, and even he hadn’t seen that one.  Another great thing about this trail is all of the wildlife.  I saw more squirrels and birds than I could count, and I even saw a woodpecker.  But the best wildlife sighting was a mother and a baby deer out for breakfast.  It was like Disney planted them there.

Pinecone Hidden Mickey
Mama & Baby Deer in the Distance

When I entered Fort Wilderness, I stayed to the right and headed down Fort Wilderness Trail.  The first thing I saw was a huge trailer that I think was larger than my house, all decked out for Valentine’s Day.  It’s so great how the residents in the Campground get very festive for all of the holidays.  I loved this part of my run.  There was so much to look at and the sidewalk wound in and out of the trees.  The only difficult part were all of the delicious breakfast smells that were coming from the trailers!  It was really making me hungry.

Valentine's Trailer

Even after looking at the map before my run, I still was unsure of where I was going.  I didn’t know the name of the road I had to turn down to head back to the main exercise trail.  Luckily there were a few bus stops along the way that had maps of the resort so I could figure out where I was.  I found Big Pine Drive and headed back up towards the Settlement Trading Post, all the while watching for chipmunks along the way. 

When I got back up to the Settlement Trading Post, I noticed a sandy nature trail off to the right.  I remembered taking this trail on our Segway tour and that is offers a great view of Bay Lake, so I took off down the trail.  As I got closer to the lake, the sand got a bit deeper so I took it easy because I didn’t want to twist my ankle since I had a lot of park touring to do that day!  When I got to the end of the trail, I was greeted by a phenomenal view of Bay Lake with Space Mountain and the Contemporary Resort in the distance.  This was also a great place to enjoy the peace and quiet for a few minutes and stretch a little bit.

Nature Trail to Bay Lake

Before I headed back to the Lodge, I took a detour past Pioneer Hall and over to the Tri-Circle D Ranch to say hi to the horses.

According to my Garmin, round trip my total run was 3.5 miles.  At that time of day, there weren’t many other people out on the trail.  I think I saw about 8 other runners.  Later in the day, I’m sure it gets a bit more crowded with bikes, Segways and even horses.  I just can’t say enough good things about this trail.  The whole run was incredibly peaceful and there was so much to see along the way.  If I had a trail like this at home to run on, I think I would train more frequently!  You definitely need to check out this trail next time you’re in Walt Disney World.  Even if you aren’t staying at either resort, it is worth taking a trip over just to take in the scenery.

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  • I’m sorry it took me a while to get over here and read this entry cause it was so good! What a lovely way to start your day! I personally love getting up early and seeing a place when it’s quiet and before the day starts and I feel like you took me there with you. I have got to take some time out of one of my trips to go over to Fort Wilderness and tour around .. it looks so fun! Maybe when I do a solo trip for the ToT run weekend I’ll head over and run these trails. Thanks!

    • Thanks so much Marci! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It really was quite beautiful. Hopefully I’ll be down for ToT 10 miler weekend as well, so maybe we can do a warm up run there. The Segway tour is another great way to see the area with less exertion 🙂

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. I am a huge Disney fan, have run 5 Disney Marathons and my favorite place to run when I am there is around Fort Wilderness. Your pictures bring back so many good memories. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for your SUPER kind comment!! It is so incredibly beautiful over there. First thing in the morning is the best! Glad I could stir up some good memories for you 🙂

  • I thoroughly enjoy reading about your running experiences around property. I worked there 5 years throughout college and my family and I have annual passes, in which we, thank God, get down there 3 times a year. Having said that, I learn more little facts from your posts and running related information than at Disney’s web site. My wife and I run at every property we stay and we appreciate your hard work and dedication, because without it we wouldn’t be as prepared.
    Thank You,

    • Wow…thank you so much!! That really means a lot to me 🙂 I’m glad you are finding the information useful and I hope to keep bringing you more tips & tricks 😉

  • My husband and I are staying at WLV in May for Star Wars Weekends. We haven’t stayed at Wilderness since I started running. I’m so excited to run this trail next month! Love the pictures, reminds of the Greenway I frequent several times a week at home. Lots of squirrels, birds, the occasional deer ( depending on when you go) and the occasional tortoise.

    • It really is my favorite place to run…you’re lucky to have something like that near your home!

  • Loved this post!!! We’re staying at Fort Wilderness over New Years this year and I’m looking forward to the training runs for me (A1A Marathon in February) Thanks so much for the pics and the map, I’m printing to take with me 😉


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