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.
Linear Backpacking Trips
- Florida Trail, Seminole State Forest- A hike on the Florida Trail in Seminole State Forest leads you through the kind of vast, open spaces that you'd never imagine existed so close to Orlando.
- Florida Trail, Ocala National Forest- 72.2 miles. Of all of the sections of the Florida Trail statewide, the Ocala National Forest is both the oldest section of the trail and the most compelling for backpackers.
- Florida Trail, Eglin East- 41 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.
- Florida Trail, Econfina Creek- 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.
- Florida Trail, Cross Florida Greenway- A prime destination for backpacking and day hiking near Ocala, the Florida Trail, Cross Florida Greenway stretches 30 miles between Dunnellon and Silver Springs.
- Florida Trail, Big Cypress South- Traversing the wet, wild landscapes 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 the state of Florida. It's a hike like no other in the world.
Most of the backpacking loops on Florida’s public lands were, in the misty past, designed and built by trail maintainers from the Florida Trail Association, often 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.
- Withlacoochee River Park- With two different trails - gentle and wild - showing off the park's natural features, Withlacoochee River Park is a popular overnight camping destination.
- Torreya Hiking Trail- One of the most rugged hikes in Florida, the Torreya Hiking Trail treats you to an scenic landscape of bluffs and ravines to 300 feet above the Apalachicola River.
- St. Francis Trail- One of Central Florida's most scenic and easy-to-follow day hikes, the St. Francis Trail traverses the southeasternmost corner of the Ocala National Forest to lead you through what was once farms, fields, and a bustling commercial center on the St. Johns River.
- Myakka Hiking Trail- For immersion in Florida's central prairies, the 39-mile Myakka Hiking Trail is a serious backpacking destination in South Florida near Sarasota
- Lower Wekiva Loop- On an 8.8 mile hike through the southeastern portion of Seminole State Forest, the Lower Wekiva Loop treats you to shady hammocks and vast pine savannas.
- Little Manatee River Trail- 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.
- Lake Kissimmee State Park- 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.
- 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.
- Jonathan Dickinson State Park- 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
- Hal Scott Preserve- At Hal Scott Preserve, enjoy vast prairies and seepage bogs, the Econ River, and camping under a live oak canopy—within minutes of the Orlando International Airport
Florida Trail Backpacking Destinations
Each icon is a trailhead on the Florida Trail in a segment suitable for backpacking