The Florida Trail is unique in that you need a wealth of permits for a thru-hike. Hiking the Florida Trail should not be frightening or strenuous, though, and new hikers have much to look forward to. You can try hailing a passing boat for a (free) ride across, or arrange transportation with Shell Island Fish Camp. You will need these maps, especially in the Florida Panhandle region and on the Western route around Orlando. If you stay at Shell Island Fish Camp, the boat ride may be discounted or free. Section hiking the Florida Trail provides some logistical challenges, but a sense of satisfaction in being able to complete an 1,100-mile walk across Florida over time Thru Hike the Florida Trail A thru-hike in Florida takes 60-90 days through lush landscapes you won’t see on other long distance trails For a longer hike, take the Woodpecker Trail, which is a 3.4-mile, paved trail. Ice cream, too! 95% of thruhikers starting Jan 1 follow this pattern, mainly because it’s cooler in South Florida in winter, and you move north with seasonal changes, and the hunting seasons (where certain campsites are closed) also move south to north over the same time frame. Step 1—Join the Florida Trail Association. Florida Hiking Trails Florida Hiking Trails 1. Here is some info to get you started planning your Florida adventure. In 1983, the path received its National Scenic Trail designation. A: There is an 83-mile stretch in the Apalachicola National Forest with no resupply options. It’s easy to get on and off the Florida Trail, as it passes through or near so many cities and towns. Video journal & pictorial journal to give those interested in the Florida National Scenic Trail a feel for a thru-hike in Florida. The Florida Trail is one of eleven National Scenic Trails in the United States. When you reach St. Marks Wilderness in the panhandle, the trail ends at the St. Marks River and picks up on the other side. The place also offers air-boat rides (I highly recommend taking one), bathrooms, a restaurant, animal shows and more. The Florida Trail Association trail maps detail the roadwalks as well as trail in the woods. Hiking along Ecofina Creek in Florida is one of the best places where you can catch the rustic, diverse natural wonder that Florida can provide. It's near impossible to find clear, concise logistical trail data online, and that what makes The Florida Trail Guide so valuable to those going hiking in Florida. Because of unpredictable weather and hunting seasons in the fall, we recommend thru-hikes start in the south in early January and end in the north by April. Florida National Scenic Trail. The Florida Trail is 1,200 to 1,400 miles long and stretches from Big Cypress National Preserve in the south to Fort Pickens in the western panhandle. Most hikers take 60 to 90 days to complete the trail. From the trailhead, hike east along the FT (follow the orange blazes) for 6.3 miles past estuaries, tidal creeks, and lowlands. Always call the USDA Forest Service ahead of time to find out the water level (850-926-3521). Around Orlando there are also two routes. The final split comes near the northern terminus, in Eglin Air Force Base. It is therefore necessary for you to provide your own tent for your hike. There’s free coffee in the morning and cold beer in the afternoon. (The others are the Arizona Trail and the Ice Age Trail.). Following in the footsteps of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and ALDHA (Appalachian Trail Long Distance Hikers Association), we acknowledge completions as “Thousand Milers.” Occasionally the FT crosses private property and some of these land owners have stipulated that only members of the Florida Trail Association may hike on their property. However, you will also have to follow 3.8 miles of the Appalachian Trail to get to Williamstown or North Adams. Most thru hikers start Jan 1. There are a couple other long stretches (such as White Springs to Aucilla), where resupply is possible only if you can catch a ride to a town 8-12 miles from the trail. A typical linear thru-hike is slightly more than 1,100 miles. (I was a member of the Florida Trail 2017 page.). Most thru hikers start Jan 1. Over the past decade, between 5 and 20 people have thru-hiked the Florida Trail each year (and reported their accomplishment to the Florida Trail Association - the actual numbers are probably slightly higher, perhaps 10 and 40 people annually). The Florida Trail, or FT, is one of our 11 National Scenic Trails. Acting as the gateway to the Florida Birding Trail in … A: South to North. ©2017 Florida Trail Association - All Rights Reserved. A: There are currently only seven hiker shelters along the Florida Trail. The only thing we love more than trails is volunteers! A hike on the FT will take you through swampland, along white-sugar beaches, past sugar cane fields and through forested woodlands. The traditional northern terminus is in Fort Pickens to the west. When traversing Big Cypress Swamp, you’ll need to get your water from cypress domes or stands. We recommend tents, bivys or hammocks with no-see-um netting. So depending upon which route you take, your mileage will vary. There is also an Ocean-to-Lake trail spur that connects Lake Okeechobee with the Atlantic Ocean, and a path from Big Cypress National Preserve to Key West, part of the Eastern Continental Trail that links Key West with Cape Gaspé in Canada. If you plan to do the entire 1,300 miles in one go, allow up to three months. Even fewer actually use the trail. Most Floridians do not know the Trail exists, even those who live close to it. Use the following checklist to determine what you should do in advance of hiking the length of the Florida Trail. Most people take two to three days to hike this section, which features wading through water that’s anywhere from ankle-deep to thigh-deep. Instead of keeping on a westerly route to the FT terminus at Gulf Island National Seashore, ECT hikers can receive their End-to-End certification by taking a northerly spur trail through Blackwater River State Forest connecting to Conecuh National Forest in Alabama. It is one of three National Scenic Trails that are entirely in one state. TripAdvisor Reis S. In total, the length of the Florida Trail along Ecofina Creek runs just shy of 18 miles, however, there are other options to stop and turn around, making for a much shorter hike. Various materials say the FT is “1,200 to 1,400 miles.” That’s because it features several alternate routes. Both its trail segments and connecting road routes are marked. Q: What is the average time to accomplish a thru hike in either direction? Today it is roughly two-thirds trail segments and one-third connecting road walks. It currently runs 1,000 miles, with 300 miles planned, from Big Cypress National Preserve to Fort Pickens at Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola Beach. Tannic water (brown-colored) is common in Florida; it picks up the color as it passes over oak leaves or pine needles. The second crossing is in the northwestern section at Bradwell Bay, a hardwood swamp in the Apalachicola National Forest. The trail passes through and near many towns, and the trail angel network is pretty robust. The trail has had some reroutes during this time. The Florida Trail, which can stretch 1,300 miles with the Florida Keys included, has gaps along the way. (If you continue on into Alabama, you’ll be on the Alabama Hiking Trail and the greater Eastern Continental Trail.). Check this. If you’re thru-hiking the trail, membership in the FTA is required. While we do talk about the thru-hike experience, we don't get too personal about what it feels like to wade through Big Cypress or listen to packs of coyotes hunt newborn calves from your tent at night. If you plan to thru-hike the Florida Trail, keep in mind this is not a social trail like the Appalachian Trail. by Melanie McManus | Apr 30, 2019 | Blog, Florida, Hiking, United States | 0 comments. Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Florida Trail Association. Named one of the United State’s most family-friendly hikes by the American Hiking Society, the Florida Trail’s Little Big Econ section is one any visitor to the Orlando area should seek out and enjoy. An accomplished long-distance hiker from Dayton, Ohio, Niekamp set off on the Florida Trail on December 16. g the Trail? Daily Mileage The FT blaze color is orange. Either way, you’re walking about 1,100 miles for a thru hike, so plan on two to three months. As an adult, Sandra didn’t tackle any trails over four miles until she joined a group of friends on an eight mile hike. The Florida Trail is managed, protected and maintained by the Florida Trail Alliance (FTA) and a wealth of volunteers. An Eastern Corridor thru-hike (eastern Lake O, eastern central FL, including roadwalks and excluding Blackwater side-trail) yields 1,287.9 miles. There is also an Atlas Guides app available, which is invaluable. For places you can explore on foot, visit the Florida Trail Association. Plan to average about one mile per hour here, and it’s best to hike with at least one other person. After that, it didn’t scare her to try 10, 12, 15, and even 20 miles in a day. North-South or South-North? But it’s not necessarily what you’re used to. You can hike around the lake via an eastern or western path. While it’s true the FT isn’t monstrously difficult, it certainly features some challenging terrain. Florida does however offer its own set of challenges that can affect daily mileage. Please check the most recent guidebook released from Florida Hikes and be sure to contact the Florida Trail Association in regards to reroutes and current closures. The Eastern Corridor by itself is 248.52 miles long. The Western Corridor runs from the Kissimmee River through St Cloud, Green Swamp, Withlacoochee State Forest, Cross Florida Greenway and then into the Ocala National Forest. A: The hiking season in Florida runs basically from late October through April. About 300 miles of it still follows roadways more than 30 … They are not required to completely circle the lake. Most people take two to three days to hike this section, which features wading through water that’s anywhere from ankle-deep to thigh-deep. * If you’ll be camping, many spots require permits, fees and/or pre-registration. Everything you need to thru-hike the Florida Trail, all in one place Most hikers camp along the canals in the southern section. Sign up for a free backcountry permit at Oasis Visitor Center before heading on the trail. Find access to all of the necessary forms and packets to lead your outing! January is a popular time to start a thru-hike, and often there will be a thru-hikers’ kick-off weekend in Big Cypress Swamp. The journey of 1,000 miles (or even 1,300 miles), begins with a single step. But once they hike the whole thing, they typically change their minds. Many hikers elect to spend a night here in a chickee, which is a traditional Seminole thatched-roof dwelling. 4.9 miles linear. Backpackers enjoy solitude and natural scenery. Trail Community. Hiking down the river, the trail passes numerous rock outcrops 20 and 30 feet above the river along with beautiful white sandbars, offering great places to take a break. The western corridor (241.4 miles) takes you through the Green Swamp and Withlacoochee State Forest, both of which are hiker favorites. Hikers often fly into Miami (east) or Naples (west); the trip takes about an hour from both locales. Permits are also at trailhead kiosks. The full mileage of the Florida Trail, including its side options, is more than 1,400 miles. The cost is minimal, and the money is always put to good use. The eastern route is 55.6 miles, while the western is 56. A: Depends on your hiking speed and number of zero days. But if you’ve never hiked before, start with short hikes. Since Florida is a humid place and rain is frequent, some campers prefer using hammocks rather than tents. Volunteers offer shuttles, food and other assistance. The Florida Trail Alliance sells maps, clothing and more on its website. It’s a mixed bag, and you’ll have to plan ahead. Here, the eastern corridor (149.1 miles) takes you near Orlando and up to Ocala, one of the oldest parts of the FT. Q: If one is doing a thru hike, what is the longest distance between resupply (towns)? If you want to start at the southern terminus, it’s conveniently located at the Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress National Preserve. In low water years, water sources may be few and far between making for high mileage days between campsites. I suffered through a road walk instead of a new, lovely trail section because I was looking at my paper map that day, not the app. Florida has a lot of water. A weekend hike on the Florida Trail through Ocala National Forest yields views of scenic prairies, companionship while camping and a taste of the "real Florida." In some areas, all you’ve got are canals and ditches. Alaqua East. ©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved, Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress, Vía de la Plata (Camino de Santiago) 2014. Billie Safari Swamp. Again, the thru-hiker may elect one or the other of these routes; they are not required to hike both. The 8 mile round-trip hike to Alaqua Creek is an intriguing hike as it leads you through a … In 2017, I paid $25 for the (very short) ride. For Eastern Continental Trail hikers an alternate route is available in the Panhandle. *Edit 12/2015: This is one of my most popular posts and it was written in 2011. It may be a good idea to read accounts from other FT thru-hikers and see what their experiences were like. This is technically still a thru-hike, since I completed it within one year. The Florida Trail Association has a list of trail angels. On some public lands you can camp wherever you’d like; on others, during hunting seasons, you can only use designated campsites. If you walk quietly, early in the day and in small groups, you will see more wildlife. Most of the roadwalks are blazed but a few are not. This includes all roadwalks, if that is where the trail is routed at the time. A second split comes near Orlando. There are five campsites in the swamp. Florida Trail hikers … The FT circles Lake Okeechobee from Clewiston on the south to Okeetantee in the north. This will exempt you from camping fees and the otherwise-required recreational use permit. Experienced hikers sometimes are wary about tackling this trail, believing that any path running along mostly flat terrain isn’t worth hiking. But you may also hike north at the Blackwater intersection to the Blackwater terminus at the Alabama state line. Hikers typically face seven miles of water that’s knee- to waist-deep, although when I passed through in the fall of 2017, I only had to make it through one small section of mud. A: In order to qualify for the Florida Trail Association End-to-End certificate and patch you must walk the entire trail as it exists at the time of your hike. Q: When is hiking season? If you’re a paper map geek like me, be aware that the maps aren’t as up-to-date as the app. Filtering doesn’t remove the color, but it tastes fine. Fill out a “hold-harmless” form provided by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, whose lands you will be crossing. There are black bear here, along with alligators, poisonous snakes, the Florida panther and wild boar. Unless you pair up with a hiking partner, much of your hike will be spent in solitude. Individual trail user experience may vary slightly. Send a copy to the Seminole Tribe and keep a copy on you when on tribal lands. Resupplying is generally not a problem. There are two major swamp crossings on the Florida Trail. A: Currently there are several routing options available the thru-hiker. He had already completed a half-dozen major hikes, including the Appalachian Trail … The Florida Trail meanders between Crestview and DeFuniak Springs through dense forests where old-growth oaks and The two biggest decisions are around Lake Okeechobee and the Orlando area. Contact the lockkeeper at Buckman Lock ahead of your arrival to coordinate your passage through, as the gate is locked. Spur trails to parking areas and campsites are generally blazed in blue. You have several options as you hike, and you can “choose one” to still count as a thru-hike: east or west around Lake Okeechobee, east or west around Central Florida, and west to the terminus at Fort Pickens or north to the Alabama border to connect to the Eastern Continental Trail. In the book, you'll find all the information you need to hike the Florida National Scenic Trail from end to end. The mud was like quicksand, however, and I was alone. With significant botanical beauty, rugged climbs, and nice campsites, the Alaqua section of the Florida Trail in Eglin Air Force Base is one of the most scenic parts of the trail statewide. Contact the FTA for a letter saying you’re a thru-hiker, which you’ll need to hike through Eglin Air Force Base. Certain sections of the trail also require permits or permissions, obtained in advance through the Florida Trail Association office (1-877-HIKE-FLA). St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, St. Marks, FL. Hikers are strongly recommended to hike with others. Q: If attempting a thru hike, which way is more practical or preferred by other thru hikers, north to south,or south to north? Also known as the Florida National Scenic Trail, the Florida Trail provides permanent non-motorized recreation opportunity for hiking and other compatible activities and is … The northern terminus is at Fort Pickens in Pensacola Beach, about 75 minutes from Pensacola International Airport. You may also choose to break the trek into sections or simply do a two- or three-day camping and backpacking trip on only part of the trail. There are only a handful of camping shelters along the Florida Trail. This means that, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. In high water years portions of the trail may have to be waded, cutting your mileage in half. Due to the heat, humidity and bugs, hiking season is late October through April. The Florida National Scenic Trail, better known as the Florida Trail, is a federally-designated, non-motorized recreation trail that meanders approximately 1,300 miles across some of the most beautiful, unique landscapes in the entire country. A: Some long-distance hikers from other trails look down on the Florida Trail because of its lack of mountains and high altitudes. Obtain membership in the FTA, which allows you to cross private lands. This part of the river is gorgeous, and the trail is picturesque. One route choice you will make is where the trail hits Lake Okeechobee. Less than 400 people have completed the entire trail. You'll find 28 miles of hiking trails to explore at this state park, but this short, one-mile-long hike takes you to the Suwannee River, where you'll see the Big Shoal Rapids. Florida's hunting zones - Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission It is easy to see why a northbound thru-hike should begin the first week of January, rather than in the fall. The Eastern Corridor runs from the Kissimmee River through Tosohatchee, Oviedo, Longwood, Seminole State Forest and up into the Ocala National Forest. Always treat all water unless it’s labeled potable. The trail does offer some campsites, but not on a regularly spaced basis. There are five campsites in the swamp. The 88 Store. Many complete the journey in 60 days; however, if this is your first long-distance trek, you may want extra time. This tiny store, seemingly in the middle of the woods but officially in Salt Springs, is a favorite spot with hikers. Hiking Season This site is about the nuts and bolts of planning and completing a thru-hike. Thanks and have a great hike! Q: What is my daily mileage likely to be? Re-supply Options Alternate Routes It’s always nice to give back and join a trail association when you’re hiking its trail. One is at the southern terminus: a 30-mile crossing of Big Cypress Swamp. Not only does a January start date avoid lingering heat and winter holiday complications, but by January 3rd most hunting ends in South Florida… Disclosure: This entry contains affiliate links. Map and GuideFlorida Trail Companion Guide for Long Distance Hikers ($12, floridatrail.org); Thru-Hiker’s Maps and Data Book ($100, floridatrail.org) Contact Florida Trail Association membership ($30) is required to hike on occasional private property: (352) 378-8823, floridatrail.org. Roadwalks For more support possibilities, I strongly recommend joining the Florida Hiking Alliance Facebook page, as well as the most current Florida Trail Facebook page. Click for grab-and-go map. This schedule will avoid almost all general gun hunting restrictions and place your hike during the winter “dry” season. I completed the entire trail in 2017, hiking it during four separate trips. The thru-hiker may select which side of the lake they wish to walk. The final part of the Long Trail thru-hike is only 14.3 miles long. Q: If I am thru-hiking the trail, do I have to hike the roadwalks? Ask for the trail register at the bar. At the end of the SOBO hike, you will pass Harmon Hill, Consultation Peak, and Seth Warner … If you like that idea, just remember that you can’t hang a hammock on the canals. Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) Preserved as Choctawhatchee National Forest in 1908, the rolling hills of Eglin AFB provide one of the most beautiful venues for backpacking in Florida. A: Depends on your hiking speed and number of zero days. Plan to average about one mile per hour here, and it’s best to hike with at least one other person. How may days does it take to Thru-hike Either way, you’re walking about 1,100 miles for a thru hike, so plan on two to three months. 12.8 miles. Q: How do I decide which alternate route to take? As a result, membership in the FTA is a legal requirement to hike the entire trail. 903 miles Road connector (road walks): 365.71 miles. Day and in small groups, you ’ re hiking its Trail segments and connecting walks. Eastern central FL, including its side options, is one of eleven National Scenic Trails that are in. Started planning your Florida adventure the heart and soul of the Trail may have to plan ahead hiking,! To three months late October through April may also hike north at the time it during separate... S not necessarily what you should do in advance of hiking the of. 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