If you are looking for a uniquely challenging but rewarding hiking experience, the expansive Florida National Scenic Trail that connects Florida's public lands may offer the adventure your heart desires.
The Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) is a long-distance hiking trail that runs from the Big Cypress National Preserve in southern Florida to Gulf Islands National Seashore in the Florida Panhandle, and according to information posted on the official USDA Forest Service government website, the trail covers a total distance of approximately 1,500 miles, making it one of the longest hiking trails in the United States.
You can join the trail at one of many locations throughout the state and hike for as long--or little--as you like.
The trail was started in the 1960s by a group of volunteers who recognized the need for long distance hiking trails in Florida and it was officially designated as a National Scenic Trail in 1983. The trail is now managed by the U.S. Forest Service with the help of various state agencies and local organizations.
The trail passes through a diverse range of habitats, including swamps, prairies, pine forests, and coastal dunes, providing hikers with a unique experience of Florida's natural beauty.
Along the way, hikers can encounter a variety of wildlife, including alligators, black bears, and numerous bird species. The trail also offers opportunities for camping, backpacking, horseback riding, and day hiking, with designated campsites and shelters located at different points.
If you don't know where to start on your adventure, one of the highlights of the trail is the Big Cypress Swamp, a vast wetland that is home to a variety of plant and animal species--and another popular destination is the Ocala National Forest, which is known for its beautiful springs and crystal-clear streams.
But no matter where you're planning on hiking the trail, be sure to check the weather conditions and bring appropriate gear and supplies, as parts of the trail can be rugged and remote.
To learn more about the trail, you can click here.