Florida Trail

Rate this story:

Wander from the Big Cypress National Preserve in southern Florida to the Gulf Islands National Seashore on the Florida Panhandle. The 1,300-mile Florida National Scenic Trail allows you to experience the state in a unique way.

Distance: 1,300 miles

States: Florida

Year Established: 1983

Best Times of Year to Visit: Spring, fall and winter

Micco Bluff. Photo courtesy of Van Tran, Florida Trail Association.

Notable Spots Along Trail:

  • Along the Gulf Islands National Seashore, a stretch of preserved beach walk, hikers can experience a diverse array of coastal systems and wildlife.
  • A new section of trail, established in June 2018, follows the Suwannee River into Big Shoals State Park. A primitive campground in the park overlooks the shoals, which at certain times of year form the only Class III whitewater rapids in the state.
  • From Juniper Springs to Hopkins Prairie, this 11-mile segment is one of the most popular with day hikers and backpackers alike.

Fun Facts, According to the Florida Trail Association:

  • The Florida Trail is the nation's only subtropical national scenic trail.
  • The highest point on the trail is Jr. Walton Pond in the Titi Creek section on the Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, at 102 feet.
  • The trail passes through/by sand dunes, cypress swamps and karst topography, which swallows rivers and streams into deep sinkholes and underground cave systems.
  • The Florida Trail follows more than 900 miles of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, helping the trail protect and connect habitat for many rare and endangered species, such as the Florida panther and the gopher tortoise. The trail is also renowned for its birding opportunities, home to unique species like the crested caracara, Florida scrub jay, Florida grasshopper sparrow and red-cockaded woodpecker.
  • Historic sites dot the length of the Florida Trail. You can visit one of the nation’s largest Civil War reenactment sites at the Olustee Battlefield, explore historic Fort Pickens in the Gulf Islands National Seashore or trace Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto’s footsteps along the Suwannee River.

Gulf Islands National Seashore. Photo courtesy of Van Tran, Florida Trail Association.

Trail Uses: The Florida Trail is specifically a footpath, but there is some permitted mountain biking and horseback riding in designated areas. Recreationists should refer to the local land manager to see if these activities are available or permitted.

Administering Agency: U.S. Forest Service

Nonprofit Partner: Florida Trail Association

Permitting Information:  A few landowners require advanced notification and permits to cross their land. It is essential that you notify the Florida Trail Association office a minimum of 30 days before starting a thru-hike. More information.

REI Stewardship: The co-op has invested $25,000 in the Florida Trail since 2014.

Read More:

Learn more about all of our national scenic trails.

No more articles