Take flight in Florida’s West Volusia County by following the #WingsoftheWest Mural Trail.
Social media influences us do some odd things. It has inspired some people to do really dumb things, like the Tide Pod Challenge (people ingesting laundry detergent). Others have made us smile, like Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” lip synch challenge. And thankfully, some benefit good causes, like the Ice Bucket Challenge raised money for The ALS Association.
Social media also inspires us to visit amazing destinations, try offbeat experiences, and taste artful food. A Facebook post led me on a little adventure in West Volusia County during a road trip to Daytona Beach.
How #WingsOfTheWest Were Born
In 2014, artist Erica Group drew a pair of angel wings in chalk in downtown DeLand. They served as a backdrop for the staff at Dressed Boutique when they modelled clothing then posted the images on social media. Like wildfire, #DeLandWings went viral and three months later, Group painted a pair of wings on green industrial doors. People (and a few dogs) from all over the country and beyond have visited and posed for photos in front of the heavenly wings. They’re located in an alley behind So. NY Market, a gallery with antiques, collections, and space for artists.
Because the wings took flight, the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority approached Group about expanding the trail and developing it as a tourism attraction. The result is the #WingsofTheWest Mural Trail and consists of six murals, each with a different pair of wings.
Skydive DeLand has a painting with biplane wings. At the Barberville Pioneer Settlement in Barberville, find peacock feathers. Pose in front of fairy wings at the Cassadaga Fairy Trail in the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp. The wings at Lyonia Preserve in Deltona pay tribute to Florida scrub jays. And, the newest and last set are a pair of swallow-tailed kite wings at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge near DeLeon Springs.
Walking a Trail Within a Trail: Lyonia Preserve
Driving to Daytona Beach, my plan was to start at the most northern point of the Wings of the West Trail then make my way south. According to Google Maps, the drive-time for the 32-some mile trail was about an hour. Unfortunately, my trip did not go as planned. Rather than visiting all locations, there was only time for one stop, and I chose Lyonia Preserve.
The scrub jay wings are located on an exterior wall of the preserve’s restrooms. Oh, important stuff to know, these restrooms are only open for special events and groups. The public has access to the restrooms in the nearby Lyonia Environmental Center, which is next to the Deltona Regional Library.
As per usual, I was traveling solo so I brought my tripod to snap photos using the timer on my camera. Having snapped at least one Instagram-worthy shot, I explored a bit of the area.
Lyonia Preserve is 360 acres of restored Florida scrub habitat to scrub-dependent wildlife, like the threatened Florida scrub jay and gopher tortoise. It is named after rusty lyonia, also called tree lyonia and stagger-bush.
The environmental center serves as the starting point for three hiking trails, .4 miles, 1.2 miles, and 2.4 miles. The center houses exhibits about Florida scrub habitat and the scrub jay and I recommend visiting it before walking one of the trails.
Wait. Was That a Florida Scrub Jay?
Sand is part of the Florida scrub habitat and there is plenty of it to trudge through. Trails wind through a maze of more than 160 species of plants and more than 120 species of animals inhabit the preserve. Florida scrub jays are endemic to the state and I kept my eyes and ears open for them.
Heading back to the trailhead, I was disappointed I did not see a scrub jay. Nearing a picnic pavilion, a blue and gray bird flew in front of me and perched next to me. It was a Florida scrub jay! He posed for some Instagram-worthy photos before flying away.
Visiting Where #WingsOfTheWest Began
On my way back from Daytona Beach, I stopped in DeLand to pose with the pair of wings that inspired the #WingsofTheWest Trail. Rather than building a new attraction, West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority created a bigger one with six existing ones.
The fun trail is doing what it is supposed to be doing, it introduced me to places I probably would not have discovered on my own, which supports those organizations. And because I shared my experience on social media, my visit has already inspired others to visit DeLand and West Volusia County. Will you be the next one to find your wings?
Nuts & Bolts About West Volusia County
Lyonia Preserve and Environmental Center
2150 Eustace Ave.
Deltona, Fla. 32725
Tel: (386) 789-7207
#WingsofTheWest Mural Trail
- DeLand Wings in Downtown DeLand
- Biplane Wings at Skydive DeLand
- Peacock Wings at Barberville Pioneer Settlement
- Fairy Wings at the Cassadaga Fairy Trail
- Scrub-jay Wings at Lyonia Preserve in Deltona
- Swallow-tailed Kite Wings at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge near DeLeon Springs
West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority
116 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, Fla. 32720
Toll Free: 800-749-4350
Where to Eat
110 Artisan Alley
DeLand, Fla. 32720
Tel: (386) 873-6524
Saturday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday