Don't forget to list Florida on your hiking schedule this year. Trek the Everglades or cruise through subtropical areas with more than enough wildlife to keep you moving.
Florida offers its visitors a warm and friendly environment, plenty of wildlife and more trails than you would expect from this tropical, beach front community.
Be aware of wildlife that live in the area you'll be traveling. Trailheads will offer a brochure at most locations to pinpoint potential danger. Read it! Chiggers, ticks, poisonous spiders, alligators and snakes are just a few of the hazards you may encounter.
JONATHAN DICKINSON STATE PARK
16450 SE Federal Hwy.
Hobe Sound, FL 33455
This state park is nestled between the banks of the Loxahatchee River. The park encompasses over 10, 000 acres of trees and swamp land. Several hiking trails built by the Florida Trail Association wind through these plant communities and along the Kitchin Creek. This easy to moderately difficult hike can be wet during the rain season, so be sure to gear up with some heavy traction and extra clothing. Two primitive trails are available for more experienced hikers, as well.
APALACHICOLA NATIONAL FOREST
This 7.5 mile loop named "Munson Hills Loop," is a challenging trek just south of Tallahassee. Dunes, towering longleaf pine forests, rolling hills and plenty of wildlife, make this a scenic adventure with a moderate difficulty rating. Most areas are groomed.
Jackson Redground is located near Pensacola, FL. With 21 miles of maintained ground, this is a nice foot path for the entire family. Several trails split midway, offering less energetic hikers a way out. Elevation ranges from 80-200 feet above sea level. Footbridges are provided across most waterways with the exception of a few swampy areas, which must be conquered the old fashioned way.
This 67 mile trail system is a subtropical showcase of hardwood hammocks, cypress swamps and cabbage palm thickets. From beginning to end, diehard trekkers can do this in 4-5 days. The less enthusiastic can follow shorter trails and park at any number of trailheads. This spot is perfect for all skill levels.
BOYETTE COUNTY PARK
Boyette Park has 12 miles of trails shared by hikers and bikers. Footpaths wind past a dozen or so lakes, and there are plenty of side trails that will take you through the upland scrub brush and woods if you really feel like roughing it. This is an easy trek that won't leave anyone behind.
Rated one of the ten most difficult trails in the United States, this jaunt along the Florida National Scenic Trail is nothing but mud, muck and swamp. The 7-mile long day hike will make even the most athletic walkers feel they're out of shape. This is a tough one! Not for the faint at heart. You'll want boots with good traction, waterproof clothing and lots of water.
GULF ISLANDS NATIONAL SEASHORE
1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway
Gulf Breeze, FL 32561
This is a nice, calm day trip back in time, that takes you to the forefront of Native American settlements, the Naval Live Oaks area and several archeological sites. Snow white beaches and well groomed trails make this a simple stroll.
There are over 38-miles of loop trails and service roads here that accommodate all skill levels on this southwestern Florida park. This is an excellent spot to hang the backpack for the night, as well. Five primitive campsites are available for rent. Trails are well groomed and mapped.
COASTAL PRAIRIE TRAIL
This is a one way trail to the Clubhouse Beach at the Southern tip of the mainland Everglades National Park. The trail runs through wide, open plains and into densely wooded areas. The last 200 yard leg crosses a salt marsh and is wet and muddy year round. Mosquitos can be intense during hot summer months. This is a gorgeous trek, aimed at serious players only.
ROYAL PALM TRAIL
Everglades National Park
40001 State Road
Homestead, FL 33034
This 2 mile afternoon walk takes you from the Royal Palm visitor center on pole ways through the Everglades. The well groomed park caters to all skill levels. Animals run free here. Bring your camera! Alligators, otters, anhingas and tropical fish are just a few of the creatures you'll encounter.
TORREYA LOOP TRAIL
Rt. 2 Box 70
Bristol, FL 32321
This 7 mile spot, located in northwestern Florida, skirts the perimeter of Torreya State Park. High bluffs, deep ravines and unusual vegetation mark this as one of the most scenic day trips in all the State. Trails are blazed and easy to maneuvere.