Best Beauty Spots Along the Florida Trail

Posted 01/30/14 by Sandra Friend and John Keatley in America's Trails

Photos © Sandra Friend

One of the biggest surprises that new-to-Florida hikers discover is that Florida is a very scenic place. Despite our lack of mountains, a few inches of elevation change are all it takes to surround you in a completely different habitat. With the 1,400-mile ribbon of the Florida Trail stretching from Pensacola Beach to the Big Cypress National Preserve between Miami and Naples, Florida's botanical diversity puts on quite a show. Whether you prefer backpacking or day hiking, these beauty spots along our National Scenic Trail will have you walking slowly with camera in hand to capture the essence of natural Florida.

At the Beach

The Florida Trail is America's only National Scenic Trail to hit the beach. The shimmering emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico await for a cool dip or a sea breeze as you walk along the bright white sands of Gulf Islands National Seashore at the Fort Pickens Unit (right) (in Pensacola Beach). For spectacular views, amble the trail through UWF Dunes Preserve to see both ocean and bay at the same time. 

suwannee-river-florida.pngOn the Bluffs

With waterfalls, springs and dense forests along its meandering route, the Florida Trail along Econfina Creek brings surprises around every corner. Following the Suwannee River (below) for more than 60 miles, the trail scrambles across rugged terrain with sandy beaches riverside. One of Metro Orlando’s best day hikes is at Little Big Econ State Forest, where the trail provides not just river views but diverse habitats.

In the Prairie

In the heart of the Ocala National Forest, Juniper Prairie Wilderness is a complex landscape of pine islands, prairie lowlands and desert-like scrub. cross the grasslands. The sawgrass prairies of Big Cypress accent a haunting landscape of cypress strands amid a slow-moving river of rainfall.  Experience Florida’s big sky amid Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, with five-mile views across the grasslands. The sawgrass prairies of Big Cypress accent a haunting landscape of cypress strands amid a slow-moving river of rainfall.

JK & Navigator, FloridaHikes.com

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