When the Florida Trail was first envisioned in the late 1960s, it was to make it possible for Florida backpackers to enjoy the natural spaces of their own home state instead of traveling up to the Appalachian Trail to go backpacking.
As a result, some of the oldest segments of the trail – Ocala and Suwannee – are among the go-to destinations for backpackers coming to Florida.
While any portion of the Florida Trail can be backpacked – as proven by the growing number of long distance hikers each year – certain portions of the trail are more enjoyable as backpacking trips than others.
These are our top picks for backpacking destinations on the Florida Trail. We will keep growing this list as we continue to craft our newest book, Florida Trail Hikes.
TIP: To find a backpacking trip on the Florida Trail that fits the mileage you have the time to do, visit our Find a FLORIDA TRAIL Hike page and use the slider bar to narrow down the range of mileage you wish to do.
Only those sections and/or hikes that fit that range will appear.
Top Linear Backpacking Trips
These are what we consider the best linear segments of the Florida Trail for backpacking. Loops are listed farther down the page. Use the link below to order these by distance.
12.8 miles. With significant botanical beauty, rugged climbs, and nice campsites, the Alaqua section of the Florida Trail in Eglin Air Force Base is one of the most scenic parts of the trail statewide.
77.9 miles. Florida’s largest national forest, Apalachicola is a very lush place, which means soggy feet and spectacular botanical diversity south of Tallahassee.
Traversing the wet wilds of the Big Cypress National Preserve, this 30.3 mile segment of the Florida Trail is its most remote part, and is the toughest backpacking trip in Florida. It’s a hike like no other in the world.
45.5 miles. The Blackwater section of the Florida Trail walks you through Atlantic white cedar and longleaf pine forests, pitcher plant bogs and titi swamps en route to the Alabama border.
14.2 miles. Climbing to the highest elevations along the Florida Trail, the challenging Catface section traverses hilly terrain along the northern edge of Eglin Air Force Base.
CLOSED. 17.7 miles. Surprisingly rugged and delightfully diverse, the Florida Trail along Econfina Creek traversed ravines, sidehill, and high bluffs above the spring-fed creek.
41.8 miles. Simultaneously rugged and scenic: that’s the beauty of a backpacking trip across the Alaqua, Catface, and Titi sections of the Florida Trail in Eglin Air Force Base.
27.7 miles. Spanning from the Choctawhatchee River west to the boundary of Eglin Air Force Base, Nokuse is a compelling backpacker’s destination in the Florida Panhandle.
72.3 miles. The birthplace of the Florida Trail and home of the world’s largest sand pine scrub forest, the Ocala section is Florida’s top backpacking destination
61 miles. A spur of the Florida Trail that leads from Port Mayaca on the east side of Lake Okeechobee to Hobe Sound Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, treating hikers to unexpected wild landscapes north of West Palm Beach.
148.0 miles. Spanning from the Ocala National Forest south through the prairies of Osceola County, the Orlando section of the Florida Trail encompasses the eastern suburbs of the Orlando metro
Best Florida Trail Loop Hikes
Most of the backpacking loops on Florida’s public lands were designed and built by trail maintainers from the Florida Trail Association.
These were often built in anticipation of routing the trail in that particular direction. Some of these still include a portion of the orange-blazed Florida Trail along a piece of the loop.
The Big Oak Trail is one of the most scenic hikes in North Florida. Much of the hiking parallels the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers, which meet here at a confluence.
One of Florida’s longest backpacking loops – and the longest within a single piece of public land – the Citrus Hiking Trail offers up to 43 miles of rugged and interesting terrain near Inverness
A wet and wild 6-mile loop into the watery wilderness of the Big Cypress Swamp, the Collier-Seminole Hiking Trail provides a challenging wade into beauty
Providing a 20.5 mile loop for backpacking amid open pine savannas and prairies, the Florida Trail at Bull Creek WMA is a popular destination.
Alternating between moss-draped oak hammocks and the wide open prairies that characterize this part of Florida, the Florida Trail loop at Prairie Lakes provides one of Central Florida’s oldest and most scenic hiking destinations.
Showcasing bluff forests and deep ravines above Lake Talquin, the Fort Braden Trails at Lake Talquin State Forest offer enough hiking for a weekend in the woods
At Hal Scott Preserve, enjoy vast prairies and seepage bogs, the Econ River, and camping under a live oak canopy—all within minutes of the Orlando International Airport
One of South Florida’s best backpacking destinations, Jonathan Dickinson State Park encompasses a vast mosaic of ecosystems along the wild and scenic Loxahatchee River
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.
Deep in the heart of Florida’s heartland, ranching heritage lives on at Lake Kissimmee State Park, home of the 1876 Florida Cow Hunters Camp.
Scenery, rugged landscape, and botanical diversity are all important factors for a great Florida hike. You’ll find that on the 6.5-mile Little Manatee River Hiking Trail, one of our long-time favorites.