It may be a good idea to read accounts from other FT thru-hikers and see what their experiences were like. Plan to average about one mile per hour here, and it’s best to hike with at least one other person. A second split comes near Orlando. 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. Experienced hikers sometimes are wary about tackling this trail, believing that any path running along mostly flat terrain isn’t worth hiking. 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. If you want to start at the southern terminus, it’s conveniently located at the Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress National Preserve. He had already completed a half-dozen major hikes, including the Appalachian Trail … Not only does a January start date avoid lingering heat and winter holiday complications, but by January 3rd most hunting ends in South Florida… Alaqua East. 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. The 8 mile round-trip hike to Alaqua Creek is an intriguing hike as it leads you through a … There are only a handful of camping shelters along the Florida Trail. Roadwalks Many hikers elect to spend a night here in a chickee, which is a traditional Seminole thatched-roof dwelling. For Eastern Continental Trail hikers an alternate route is available in the Panhandle. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, St. Marks, FL. 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." ©2017 Florida Trail Association - All Rights Reserved. (If you continue on into Alabama, you’ll be on the Alabama Hiking Trail and the greater Eastern Continental Trail.). This site is about the nuts and bolts of planning and completing a thru-hike. Many complete the journey in 60 days; however, if this is your first long-distance trek, you may want extra time. A: Depends on your hiking speed and number of zero days. When traversing Big Cypress Swamp, you’ll need to get your water from cypress domes or stands. 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. 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. It’s a mixed bag, and you’ll have to plan ahead. 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. If you walk quietly, early in the day and in small groups, you will see more wildlife. On some public lands you can camp wherever you’d like; on others, during hunting seasons, you can only use designated campsites. The Eastern Corridor runs from the Kissimmee River through Tosohatchee, Oviedo, Longwood, Seminole State Forest and up into the Ocala National Forest. An Eastern Corridor thru-hike (eastern Lake O, eastern central FL, including roadwalks and excluding Blackwater side-trail) yields 1,287.9 miles. The Florida Trail meanders between Crestview and DeFuniak Springs through dense forests where old-growth oaks and Disclosure: This entry contains affiliate links. But once they hike the whole thing, they typically change their minds. 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. Thanks and have a great hike! The final part of the Long Trail thru-hike is only 14.3 miles long. One is at the southern terminus: a 30-mile crossing of Big Cypress Swamp. The Florida Trail, or FT, is one of our 11 National Scenic Trails. Q: How do I decide which alternate route to take? This schedule will avoid almost all general gun hunting restrictions and place your hike during the winter “dry” season. 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. A: Currently there are several routing options available the thru-hiker. 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. In low water years, water sources may be few and far between making for high mileage days between campsites. 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. Most hikers camp along the canals in the southern section. Most of the roadwalks are blazed but a few are not. A: South to North. Florida Hiking Trails Florida Hiking Trails 1. 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. Either way, you’re walking about 1,100 miles for a thru hike, so plan on two to three months. There are two major swamp crossings on the Florida Trail. A: There are currently only seven hiker shelters along the Florida Trail. 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). If you’re thru-hiking the trail, membership in the FTA is required. But if you’ve never hiked before, start with short hikes. Most thru hikers start Jan 1. I completed the entire trail in 2017, hiking it during four separate trips. Either way, you’re walking about 1,100 miles for a thru hike, so plan on two to three months. Individual trail user experience may vary slightly. From the trailhead, hike east along the FT (follow the orange blazes) for 6.3 miles past estuaries, tidal creeks, and lowlands. Daily Mileage The mud was like quicksand, however, and I was alone. 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. Around Orlando there are also two routes. While it’s true the FT isn’t monstrously difficult, it certainly features some challenging terrain. Various materials say the FT is “1,200 to 1,400 miles.” That’s because it features several alternate routes. Q: If attempting a thru hike, which way is more practical or preferred by other thru hikers, north to south,or south to north? Most thru hikers start Jan 1. Following in the footsteps of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and ALDHA (Appalachian Trail Long Distance Hikers Association), we acknowledge completions as “Thousand Milers.” The full mileage of the Florida Trail, including its side options, is more than 1,400 miles. Fill out a “hold-harmless” form provided by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, whose lands you will be crossing. Alternate Routes Both its trail segments and connecting road routes are marked. Certain sections of the trail also require permits or permissions, obtained in advance through the Florida Trail Association office (1-877-HIKE-FLA). So depending upon which route you take, your mileage will vary. Plan to average about one mile per hour here, and it’s best to hike with at least one other person. The Florida Trail, which can stretch 1,300 miles with the Florida Keys included, has gaps along the way. Since Florida is a humid place and rain is frequent, some campers prefer using hammocks rather than tents. This includes all roadwalks, if that is where the trail is routed at the time. The traditional northern terminus is in Fort Pickens to the west. It’s always nice to give back and join a trail association when you’re hiking its trail. In some areas, all you’ve got are canals and ditches. An accomplished long-distance hiker from Dayton, Ohio, Niekamp set off on the Florida Trail on December 16. It’s easy to get on and off the Florida Trail, as it passes through or near so many cities and towns. 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. As a result, membership in the FTA is a legal requirement to hike the entire trail. Volunteers offer shuttles, food and other assistance. Spur trails to parking areas and campsites are generally blazed in blue. 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. The Eastern Corridor by itself is 248.52 miles long. The trail passes through and near many towns, and the trail angel network is pretty robust. In high water years portions of the trail may have to be waded, cutting your mileage in half. Contact the FTA for a letter saying you’re a thru-hiker, which you’ll need to hike through Eglin Air Force Base. Video journal & pictorial journal to give those interested in the Florida National Scenic Trail a feel for a thru-hike in Florida. A hike on the FT will take you through swampland, along white-sugar beaches, past sugar cane fields and through forested woodlands. There’s free coffee in the morning and cold beer in the afternoon. This tiny store, seemingly in the middle of the woods but officially in Salt Springs, is a favorite spot with hikers. As an adult, Sandra didn’t tackle any trails over four miles until she joined a group of friends on an eight mile hike. 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. This will exempt you from camping fees and the otherwise-required recreational use permit. Filtering doesn’t remove the color, but it tastes fine. Again, the thru-hiker may elect one or the other of these routes; they are not required to hike both. If you’re a paper map geek like me, be aware that the maps aren’t as up-to-date as the app. 12.8 miles. 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. Always treat all water unless it’s labeled potable. The Florida Trail is unique in that you need a wealth of permits for a thru-hike. They are not required to completely circle the lake. There are five campsites in the swamp. The place also offers air-boat rides (I highly recommend taking one), bathrooms, a restaurant, animal shows and more. If you plan to thru-hike the Florida Trail, keep in mind this is not a social trail like the Appalachian Trail. Here, the eastern corridor (149.1 miles) takes you near Orlando and up to Ocala, one of the oldest parts of the FT. You can hike around the lake via an eastern or western path. Send a copy to the Seminole Tribe and keep a copy on you when on tribal lands. After that, it didn’t scare her to try 10, 12, 15, and even 20 miles in a day. For more support possibilities, I strongly recommend joining the Florida Hiking Alliance Facebook page, as well as the most current Florida Trail Facebook page. The cost is minimal, and the money is always put to good use. The second crossing is in the northwestern section at Bradwell Bay, a hardwood swamp in the Apalachicola National Forest. One route choice you will make is where the trail hits Lake Okeechobee. The journey of 1,000 miles (or even 1,300 miles), begins with a single step. 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. 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. Find access to all of the necessary forms and packets to lead your outing! North-South or South-North? 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 Florida Trail is managed, protected and maintained by the Florida Trail Alliance (FTA) and a wealth of volunteers. ©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved, Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress, Vía de la Plata (Camino de Santiago) 2014. 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. But you may also hike north at the Blackwater intersection to the Blackwater terminus at the Alabama state line. The thru-hiker may select which side of the lake they wish to walk. There is also an Atlas Guides app available, which is invaluable. We recommend tents, bivys or hammocks with no-see-um netting. If you plan to do the entire 1,300 miles in one go, allow up to three months. 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. Even fewer actually use the trail. 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. (I was a member of the Florida Trail 2017 page.). If you’ll be camping, many spots require permits, fees and/or pre-registration. The FT circles Lake Okeechobee from Clewiston on the south to Okeetantee in the north. Resupplying is generally not a problem. A typical linear thru-hike is slightly more than 1,100 miles. Q: What is my daily mileage likely to be? 4.9 miles linear. Q: If I am thru-hiking the trail, do I have to hike the roadwalks? Florida does however offer its own set of challenges that can affect daily mileage. Sign up for a free backcountry permit at Oasis Visitor Center before heading on the trail. Less than 400 people have completed the entire trail. Florida has a lot of water. This is technically still a thru-hike, since I completed it within one year. If you like that idea, just remember that you can’t hang a hammock on the canals. How may days does it take to Thru-hike The eastern route is 55.6 miles, while the western is 56. Here is some info to get you started planning your Florida adventure. Ask for the trail register at the bar. The western corridor (241.4 miles) takes you through the Green Swamp and Withlacoochee State Forest, both of which are hiker favorites. Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Florida Trail Association. Use the following checklist to determine what you should do in advance of hiking the length of the Florida 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. Always call the USDA Forest Service ahead of time to find out the water level (850-926-3521). 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. Hiking the Florida Trail should not be frightening or strenuous, though, and new hikers have much to look forward to. The trail does offer some campsites, but not on a regularly spaced basis. 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. 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. For a longer hike, take the Woodpecker Trail, which is a 3.4-mile, paved trail. Acting as the gateway to the Florida Birding Trail in … A: Depends on your hiking speed and number of zero days. The Florida Trail Association trail maps detail the roadwalks as well as trail in the woods. The Florida Trail Alliance sells maps, clothing and more on its website. Today it is roughly two-thirds trail segments and one-third connecting road walks. 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. Most Floridians do not know the Trail exists, even those who live close to it. Q: What is the average time to accomplish a thru hike in either direction? A: There is an 83-mile stretch in the Apalachicola National Forest with no resupply options. You can try hailing a passing boat for a (free) ride across, or arrange transportation with Shell Island Fish Camp. A: Some long-distance hikers from other trails look down on the Florida Trail because of its lack of mountains and high altitudes. Hikers often fly into Miami (east) or Naples (west); the trip takes about an hour from both locales. The northern terminus is at Fort Pickens in Pensacola Beach, about 75 minutes from Pensacola International Airport. It is therefore necessary for you to provide your own tent for your hike. Q: If one is doing a thru hike, what is the longest distance between resupply (towns)? The Florida Trail Association has a list of trail angels. Unless you pair up with a hiking partner, much of your hike will be spent in solitude. Permits are also at trailhead kiosks. About 300 miles of it still follows roadways more than 30 … Florida Trail hikers … by Melanie McManus | Apr 30, 2019 | Blog, Florida, Hiking, United States | 0 comments. Backpackers enjoy solitude and natural scenery. Florida National Scenic Trail. Q: When is hiking season? Obtain membership in the FTA, which allows you to cross private lands. However, you will also have to follow 3.8 miles of the Appalachian Trail to get to Williamstown or North Adams. Hikers are strongly recommended to hike with others. Tannic water (brown-colored) is common in Florida; it picks up the color as it passes over oak leaves or pine needles. There are black bear here, along with alligators, poisonous snakes, the Florida panther and wild boar. It is one of three National Scenic Trails that are entirely in one state. Check this. Step 1—Join the Florida Trail Association. Due to the heat, humidity and bugs, hiking season is late October through April. The trail has had some reroutes during this time. The final split comes near the northern terminus, in Eglin Air Force Base. Hiking Season A: The hiking season in Florida runs basically from late October through April. Re-supply Options The 88 Store. Everything you need to thru-hike the Florida Trail, all in one place In 1983, the path received its National Scenic Trail designation. But it’s not necessarily what you’re used to. There are five campsites in the swamp. The FT blaze color is orange. (The others are the Arizona Trail and the Ice Age Trail.). In 2017, I paid $25 for the (very short) ride. *Edit 12/2015: This is one of my most popular posts and it was written in 2011. 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. 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 … This part of the river is gorgeous, and the trail is picturesque. If you stay at Shell Island Fish Camp, the boat ride may be discounted or free. g the Trail? The Florida Trail is one of eleven National Scenic Trails in the United States. The two biggest decisions are around Lake Okeechobee and the Orlando area. For places you can explore on foot, visit the Florida Trail Association. * You will need these maps, especially in the Florida Panhandle region and on the Western route around Orlando. The only thing we love more than trails is volunteers! 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. At the end of the SOBO hike, you will pass Harmon Hill, Consultation Peak, and Seth Warner … In the book, you'll find all the information you need to hike the Florida National Scenic Trail from end to end. 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. Most hikers take 60 to 90 days to complete the trail. Contact the lockkeeper at Buckman Lock ahead of your arrival to coordinate your passage through, as the gate is locked. 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