When most people think of Florida, they often think of beautiful ocean-scapes and white sand beaches. And although it can be hot and muggy during the summer, if you’re looking for a backpacking trip in the winter, the cool temperatures make Florida the perfect place to visit. While you’re in the state, there are a few short backpacking trips that will let you see the best the Florida Trail has to offer.
Big Cypress Preserve Trails –
Around 41 miles of the Florida Trail is located in Big Cypress Preserve in the Everglades. This is best saved for a winter trip, as the summer months bring high humidity, daily afternoon showers, and plenty of mosquitos. Located near Everglades City and Tamiami Trail, this trail offers plenty to see, from a variety of birds to alligators, Florida panthers, and other wildlife. The Big Cypress Preserve Trails have no elevation and are considered good trails for a beginner.
Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area –
Located near Christmas, Florida, this area includes around 35 miles of trail. Campsites are available in the park if you’d like to stay overnight. This is another trail that’s best done during the winter months, though it is open year-round. Wildlife and many different types of plant life can be found in the area. Though the area is flat, there are some parts of the trails that are more difficult than others and may require crossing over a small river.
Upper Suwannee River –
Most of this trail runs alongside the Suwannee River so you can choose to hike all of the trail, boat down some of it and hike other parts, or take a boat along the entire length. There are around 42 miles of trails here. If you go down this trail, do not miss the side trail to Disappearing Creek. Multiple starting points are available depending on the amount of time you want to hike, but the main trail begins near White Springs. This trail can be hiked year-round, but you may want to avoid this trail during the rainy season as it can flood.
Apalachicola West –
If you’re looking for a more remote trail, this is one you will want to try. Starting near Porter Lake on the Ochlocknee River, there are more than 46 miles of trails far removed from any towns. Most of the trails are dry and flat, but there are sections where you could wade through a few inches of water during the rainy season. It’s possible to fish on the trail and you’ll have the chance to see many different types of animals from sandhill cranes to turkeys, alligators, and bears. Due to the remoteness of this trail, it may not be recommended as a beginner trail and safety precautions should be taken while backpacking.
The Florida Trail offers more than 1300 miles of hiking trails, perfect for backpackers looking for a warmer place to hike during the winter. If you’re looking for a shorter trail to see what hiking in Florida can be like or you just have a weekend to spare, these are a few of the sections along the Florida Trail you won’t want to miss.