Of course, knowing that you want to go hiking in Florida is one thing, and knowing which hiking trails to take is something else entirely. Fortunately for you, I’ve already done the hard work, identifying just a few of the top hiking spots in Florida for you to investigate. Here’s where you’ll want to get started.
1. Big Shoals State Park Trail
This stunning Florida trail is in one of the State’s most well-known and well-loved tourist destinations. Open from 8 AM until sundown every day of the year, it has huge limestone cliffs, stunning views and of course its Class III Whitewater rapids. You have to be a decent navigator and kayaker if you want to sail the full length of the shoals, but hikers of any ability can manage the trail.
2. Bulow Woods Loops
This 5.3 mile long trail runs in a loop (hence the name) and is right by Florida’s Flagler Beach. That makes it my favorite Florida trail for when I want to go for a stroll with my family before relaxing on the beach with an ice cream. And as you can tell from the “Woods” in the name, you can expect to see plenty of trees as well as fantastic year-round nature hikes and some of the best birdwatching you’ll find in a State Park. You can even take your dogs with you, as long as you keep them on a leash.
3. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
This Florida trail is to the west of the Everglades, and about 30 minutes east of Naples (no, not the one in Italy). Hikers love this one because it has everything that makes the Glades such a popular destination, from the wildlife to the fact that it feels as though you’ve travelled hundreds of years back in time. The trail will take you along for 1.5 mi or so and then eventually lead you out to the largest forest of bald cypresses in the whole of North America. Just make sure that the boardwalk is open before you go because you’re not going to want to miss it!
4. Highlands Hammock State Park
This is another one of those spots that makes you feel as though you’ve fallen through a wormhole and emerged hundreds of thousands of years in the past. Part of that is because of the fragile ecosystems that are still being preserved there for future generations to enjoy. This is a good one to visit if you’re a nature buff, but be sure to clean up after yourself and to respect the flora and fauna. They say it has more rare species than any other Florida State Park.
5. Prairie Lakes Loop
This Florida trail is a relatively new one, at least when you compare it to some of the others that hikers enjoy. It’s also no longer a State Park, although it did once hold that honor and that doesn’t mean that it’s fallen from glory. It’s a solid destination for everyone from hikers and wildlife photographers to families who are looking to spend a memorable vacation together. It’s also easy to get to and relatively cheap to park at, which means you can travel there on a budget, too.
6. Citrus Hiking Trail
This is one of the longest hiking trails in our list with over 43 miles for you to explore, so it can be a good one to spend a week at if you want to cover every inch of it. In particular, its backpacking loop is the second biggest of all of the hiking trails in Florida. Even the shortest loop is 7.5 miles long, making this one of the more challenging spots on this list, though don’t let that put you off. It’s worth it! You can even take a campervan if you have one as there are plenty of sites nearby for you to stay at.
7. Ocala National Forest Trail
This trail is an interesting one to think about because of its sheer versatility. Sure, if you like walking long distances and pushing yourself to your limits then you might want to cover the 100 mile or so backpacking route, but you can also take the half-mile stroll along to the boardwalk. You don’t have to be a backpacker to enjoy this one, but it does help as it’s particularly well-suited to backpacking and exploring.
8. Big Cypress National Preserve
The Big Cypress National Preserve is to the west of Miami and is home to some stunning freshwater marine estuaries as well as hundreds of thousands of acres of swamp that back on to the iconic Everglades. In particular, you’ll want to be on the lookout for the Florida panther, as this is the only State Park I know of where you’ll be able to see it. Don’t worry, though – they’re more afraid of us than we are of them.
9. White Springs Area Trails
White Springs was originally mostly known for being a natural springs spa town, but now the area is arguably much more well-known because of the facilities available for hikers, cyclists, canoers and kayakers who want to explore the area. It’s unique amongst all the other trails on our list because this is the only one that takes you literally right through the center of town. While you’re there, why not learn some more about the history of the spa?