Now is the Time for Hiking in Florida! The Top Spots, Reviewed

January 20, 2020

Almost half of Floridians went on a hike in the last year. Were you one of them? There are thousands of miles to explore; the Florida Trail stretches 1,400 miles! To make your experience enjoyable, you need to choose the right trail. Consider the length, sun cover, terrain, and distance. We’ve chosen three parks that offer some of the best hiking in Florida.

Choose your park and then head over to our store to get the right gear for your next hike.

Withlacoochee State Forest

Located just north of our Tampa outdoor store, this state forest offers miles of trails ready for hiking. The entire forest is 157,479 acres; that’s seven separate tracts of land stretching across four counties. Getting to the park is convenient as it straddles I75.

Hiking for all skill levels is available, from flat paved trails that you share with bicycles to the more wild and undeveloped forest that you’ll share with birdwatchers and horseback riders.

The vast majority of the trails are protected by tree cover, which makes this the perfect place to escape the blistering Florida summer sun. While hiking the trails, keep your eyes peeled for black bears, wild hogs, white-tailed deer, turkeys, hawks, and foxes.

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

Get a taste of the Midwest as bison and herds of wild horses roam this prairie preserve located just south of Gainesville. You have your choice of eight trails that wind their way through the preserve. This gives you plenty of variety and opportunity to see the varied wildlife.

Just be careful when you go, Florida rains are not kind to the trails, and you could encounter mud. You also need to choose your trail wisely, the prairie doesn’t have tree coverage, and that means you’ll be hiking in the sun on some trails.

Ocala National Forest

Head just north of Orlando, and you’ll be standing in the world’s largest pine scrub forest with more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs. This vast expanse of wilderness allows hikers to experience a wide variety of ecosystems.

You’ll wind your way through 67 miles of trails. You can camp almost anywhere along the trail, or there are more developed campsites every 10-12 miles. For day hikers, there are shorter, more manageable loops of a few miles.

Blue Springs State Park

Most well-known for its manatees, this park offers something for everyone. Bring your family along, and you can hike along the spring run and view the almost 500 manatees that call this park their winter home. Or head over to the 4.5 mile Pine Island Trail and take advantage of the perfect bird watching opportunities.

The biggest downside about this park is that it reaches capacity fast, so if you want to go, head out early. The effort is worth it to experience Florida the way its earliest residents did.

Go Hiking in Florida

Hiking in Florida is plentiful, varied, and full of wildlife. These parks offer a wide variety of trails that are perfect for all skill levels.

If you’re new to hiking, start with the shorter, shaded, and more level trails. Then as you progress, you can tackle the longer and more undeveloped wilderness.

Get ready for your next hiking adventure by stocking up on backpacking supplies.

Here at Bill Jacksons, we have friendly consultants, who are experienced in outdoor adventure. We are happy to work with you individually to make sure you get outfitted with the equipment that is best for your next outdoor journey. Give us a call or stop by to meet our team.