Okeechobee is the heart of Florida’s old frontier, surrounded by vast prairies with cattle ranches and the sweep of Lake Okeechobee, one of America’s largest lakes. Hikes in this area treat you to the “Big Sky” that only this region of South Central Florida can offer.
Nearby: Fort Pierce, Lake Placid, Moore Haven, Sebring, Stuart
The Florida Trail follows the curve of Lake Okeechobee to the east and west, and it and heads up north along the Kissimmee River, affording more than 100 miles of backpacking easily accessed from this community in Florida’s heartland. Okeechobee is one of the central locations for camping during the annual Big O Hike around Lake Okeechobee.
Trails and Parks in Okeechobee
- Florida Trail, Chandler Slough West - It looks like a mountain ridge from a distance, but Chandler Slough is a ribbon of cypress strand through the flat Okeechobee prairies. This 4.3 mile Florida Trail section follows its rim, through beautiful oak hammocks and soggy marshes
- Florida Trail, Henry Creek to Okeechobee - Along the north shoreline of Lake Okeechobee, this paved segment of the Florida Trail is one of its prettiest, with 8.7 miles of hiking from Henry Creek to Parrott Ave.
- Florida Trail, Kissimmee - 108.9 miles. Following the Kissimmee River floodplain – which is undergoing restoration to its former glory, and flooding the landscape in the process – this is a section of trail with a mix of levee walks, road walks, marshy wades, and spectacular oak hammocks, as well as many open prairies shared with cattle. Scenic hikes here include Chandler Slough West, Starvation Slough, Kissimmee Prairie, Kicco, and Prairie Lakes.
- Florida Trail, Ocean to Lake: DuPuis Reserve - On this western end of the Ocean-to-Lake section of the Florida Trail, the trail leads you to the heart of DuPuis Reserve, zigzagging through pine forests and cypress domes
- Florida Trail, Ocean to Lake: DuPuis to Corbett - Deep in the heart of the Ocean-to-Lake Greenway, this 9.7 mile segment of the Florida Trail bridging DuPuis Reserve and Corbett WMA is one of the most wild and scenic treks in southeastern Florida
- Florida Trail, Okee-tantie to Platts Bluff - Following the Kissimmee River north from where it empties into Lake Okeechobee, the Florida Trail is atop a dike above a vast expanse of open prairie in ranchland.
- Florida Trail, Okeechobee East - 56.6 miles. The eastern side of Lake Okeechobee has more communities close to the Herbert Hoover Dike, and more open water to see from the trail. All of the trail here is paved and multi-use. Closures due to rehabilitation work on the dike affect many segments on this side of the lake.
- Florida Trail, Okeechobee West - 56.0 miles. The preferred route for long distance hikers due to its solitude and wild spaces, the trail – entirely atop a 35-foot levee – offers expansive views of Lake Okeechobee, its western marshes, and vast open prairies turned to cattle ranches. Much of the trail, but not all, is paved and multi-use.
- Florida Trail, Port Mayaca to Henry Creek - One of the segments of the Florida Trail that are paved around Lake Okeechobee, the 13.7-mile walk between Port Mayaca and Henry Creek offers unparalleled vistas of both open water and the marshes
- Florida Trail, Yates Marsh - Along this 3.3-mile section of the Florida Trail in the heart of the Kissimmee prairies, Yates Marsh is not marshy, but a hike in natural habitats and pasture along the river.
- Fort Center - Explore Fort Center, a pre-Colombian village lost in Florida’s past – and uncovered again by archaeologists – by following this trail in Fisheating Creek WMA.
- Harney Pond Canal Boardwalk - Although short, the Harney Pond Canal Boardwalk at Lakeport offers the best view you'll find of Lake Okeechobee on its western shores - and great birding, too
- Hickory Hammock Trail - With moss-draped oaks and tall hickory trees, stands of cabbage palms and a beautiful campsite, the Hickory Hammock Trail is an enjoyable destination
- Kilpatrick Hammock Trail - For a small sample of a habitats found in and around the hammocks that dot the vast Kissimmee Prairie, hike the Kilpatrick Hammock Trail at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
- Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park - Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park protects a remnant of what was once the great Indian Prairie stretching to Lake Okeechobee, a mosaic of wet and dry grasslands where wildflowers flourish.
- Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail - An overlay on the Florida Trail around Lake Okeechobee, the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail provides a mostly paved cycling and walking route around the second largest lake entirely within the borders of the United States.
- Okeechobee Battlefield State Park - Open only once annually for a re-enactment of the battle, Okeechobee Battlefield State Park protects a part of the landscape where the Battle of Okeechobee occurred during the Second Seminole War on Christmas Day, 1837.
- Rafael Sanchez Trail - Snaking through an oh-so-slender slice of the rocky Okeechobee Ridge, the relict shoreline of Lake Okeechobee, the Rafael Sanchez Trail stays in deep shade for its 5.7 mile traverse of this skinny stretch of forest.
- Taylor Creek STA - Encompassing the ancient shoreline of Taylor Creek and man-made marshes, this wetlands park is a gem for birding and wildlife watching just north of Okeechobee.