September 25, 2019
Interest in hiking has been growing over the last decade. The number of active hikers in the US increased from about 30 million in 2006 to almost 45 million in 2017.
Florida might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think about hiking but it has a large network of trails and a thriving hiking community. If you’re planning to get out on the trail, make sure you keep these Florida hiking tips in mind.
Make sure you have the right gear for the trails you’re going to be on. Your footwear and clothing are important both for comfort and for safety. Your day pack or backpack needs to fit and hold enough supplies.
Florida has some unpredictable weather and is often wet and humid so make sure your clothes are made from fast-drying material. Wet clothes are uncomfortable but can also be a safety problem.
You’ll want to carry a good amount of clean water and enough food to last for the amount of time you expect to be on the trail but it’s a good idea to take more than you think you’ll need. If you get caught off-guard and end up being out longer than intended, you’ll be prepared.
Take a first aid kit with you as well, with any supplies you might need. Beyond that, you should carry the American Hiking Society’s ten essentials on every hike.
A “hiking 101” rule for all hikers should be to follow the Leave No Trace (LNT) principles. The trails you’re hiking on are home to wildlife and LNT helps protect them.
Nobody likes hiking on damaged trails and trash left behind can lead to pollution and potentially even more destructive problems like fires.
The combination of temperature and moisture in Florida is a perfect environment for several types of bugs. Mosquitos, ticks, and chiggers are common and some, particularly mosquitos, can carry nasty diseases such as Zika.
Use a good insect repellant and consider treating your clothes and other gear with something like permethrin.
Never set out on a hike without letting someone know where you’re going and how long you expect to be. You never know when something unexpected can happen and you wind up lost or injured. If someone knows where you went, they’ll be able to get help if you’re not back when you expected to be.
Some trails in Florida go through private land and you need a permit to use them. If you’re found on the trail without one, you’ll be quickly escorted out.
If you’re hiking the Florida Trail, you also need to be a member of the Florida Trail Association. They have agreements with some private landowners that cover all members.
Florida is hot and sunny for most of the year but some months are cooler than others. The best months for hiking are October through April. It won’t be as hot and the cooler temperatures can help reduce the number of bugs you have to deal with.
Florida hiking is a great way to enjoy the state’s natural beauty but it’s hardly the only option. There are plenty of other Florida adventures to choose from as well.