Summer is the time of year when it just isn’t as easy to get outdoors in Florida. The mosquitoes get bigger and meaner, thunderstorms roll through like clockwork, and when it isn’t pouring, it’s blazing hot and humid. There’s a reason our prime hiking season is October through April!
Still, we make the most of it. While we strongly suggest against backpacking in Florida this time of year – for the above reasons plus other summer considerations, including dehydration, heat stroke, and the proliferation of ticks and chiggers – it’s still a fine time to enjoy the lush beauty of Florida in its rainy season.
Do it early. Start out at sunrise (although some parks don’t allow you to enter until 8 AM) and to be off the trail before noon.
Stay hydrated. Carry double the amount of water you’d normally carry for the same distance of hiking.
Use sun protection. Wear a hat and slather on the sunscreen.
Protect yourself from insects. Bug spray is essential during the summer months, especially sprayed on your shoes, socks, and below the knees to help deflect chiggers and ticks. If you’re hiking somewhere marshy, including in mangrove swamps, you may want to have a headnet handy. Mosquitoes are at their worst at dusk and dawn.
Expect to get rained on. Be aware of the weather forecast before you leave home. Thunderstorms usually roll through in the afternoons, but can sneak up on you early. Don’t get caught out in them.
Expect to get your feet wet. Particularly if you live anywhere south of Orlando, unless you take a hike in scrub habitat or on boardwalks or berms. Summer is the wet season, which means soggy trails in habitats that retain water.
Don’t overdo it. Know what your body can handle in terms of heat and humidity. Don’t push yourself as hard in summer as you normally would in the cooler months.
Keep it short. If you can’t get out early, the alternative is to take a short stroll whatever time of day. Evenings are good, but fit your walk in either before or after the daily rains.
Keep it safe. Being outdoors in Florida in summer means being aware of the hazards that come with our hottest months. Play it safe when you get outdoors this summer!
- Chikungunya fever a growing problem - A mosquito-borne disease, Chikungunya fever was first identified in 1952 in Tanzania. In recent years it has spread prolifically throughout the Caribbean. It has no known cure, and it is now present in Florida.
- Step softly! Sea turtles nesting! - Early summer is sea turtle nesting season in Florida, where precautions should be taken on the beaches and near shore to avoid disturbing these gentle giants.
- Things that bite: mosquitoes - Mosquitoes make summer hiking a challenge in Florida. Here's why they're a problem and what you can do to fight back.
- Things that bite: spiders - Florida has four species of venomous spiders, including the red widow spider, which is only found in our state.
- Things that bite: ticks and chiggers - Since they crawl on your skin and attach themselves to you to feed, ticks and chiggers are especially creepy. Unlike mosquitoes, you can't just swat them away. Here's the difference between them.