For 11.4 miles, the Florida Trail follows the rim of the restored Kissimmee River floodplain, sandwiched between ranches and marshes south of Micco Bluff.
While it starts out as an immersion in wild beauty, about a third of the way in it becomes an exercise in following the fences that keep cattle from roaming out onto public land.
Rugged in places, easy in others, it provides enough moments of wonder and wild that it makes for one of the best scenic hikes along the entire Kissimmee River basin.
Having trailheads and designated campsites at both ends helps. Hikers have the option of walking in and out from either end – the southern portion of the hike providing the best immersion in oak hammocks – or planning a backpacking trip yoyo in either direction.
Resources for exploring the area. Full details on this hike are in Florida Trail Hikes.
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Length: 11.4 miles linear
Trailhead: 27.3832, -81.0417
Address: 20684 US 98, Okeechobee
Land manager: South Florida Water Management District
A free permit is needed to use either campsite. Obtain online or by calling the number above. The campsites do not have water. Bring it in with you.
Be aware of hunting seasons and wear bright orange clothing if hiking during hunts. Links for permits and hunt dates provided at the bottom of this page.
Pay attention to river conditions. If the trail is at all flooded within the first mile northbound, turn back. The northern end of the hike is on higher ground. Avoid it entirely if water is flowing or knee-deep.
White blazes mark the alternate roadwalk along Micco Bluff Rd, which should be used by long distance hikers who need to bypass flooding.
Use the Oak Creek trailhead [27.447531,-81.128059] as an alternative access point. It is where this hike ends.
Micco Landing trailhead: Follow US 98 north from Okeechobee 16 miles, passing through the community of Basinger. Just after the community center at Micco Landing Rd, watch for the trailhead entrance on the right soon after.
Oak Creek trailhead: Follow the above to Micco Landing Rd. Turn right and follow this road through farms and ranches until it reaches the Oak Creek trailhead on the left after 10 miles.
This section starts behind the gate at Micco Landing trailhead. Following the orange blazes, you quickly come to a blue-blazed side trail to the Micco Landing campsite.
It is less than a quarter mile inside the gate and has a picnic table and fire ring.
The trail swings out to the river basin, offering up one of the best views of the restored, free-flowing river that you’ll find anywhere along the entire Kissimmee River section of the Florida Trail.
Leaving the river, it works its way into a series of oak and palm hammocks. Some of them have extremely dense understories, making it tough to see the next blaze. Follow the footpath.
After 3 miles, the trail reaches an old ranch road. This makes a good turnaround point for a day hike, since the trail gets together and wetter north of this point.
For the next two miles, it stays very close to the ranch fences so as to avoid leading you into the floodplain marshes. Sometimes the cows stay close to the fences, too.
Wide open panoramas across the floodplain are punctuated by occasional traverses of mature oak hammocks along the river’s natural shoreline.
At 6.6 miles, the trail crosses a crushed limestone road that once led to a lock on the Kissimmee River. Removal of that lock played a key role in restoring the river’s natural flow through this area.
Sticking close to the fence even within the hammocks, the trail showcases enormous live oaks. It also leads you through some wet and muddy traverses, some of which are being bridged with boardwalks.
Micco Bluff provides a great spot to look out over a natural bend in the Kissimmee River. We don’t recommend trying to climb down it, as it is quite steep. Alligators like to sun below it, too.
Leaving the bluff at 9.7 miles, the trail continues along the fence line. Large oaks shade the footpath as you approach and walk right through Oak Creek South campsite, the second designated campsite on this section.
Vehicles can drive in to this campsite, and so the trail follows the access road out to the Oak Creek trailhead to finish the 11.4-mile hike.
NORTHBOUND: Starvation Slough. To connect to the Starvation Slough trailhead, long distance and section hikers must roadwalk for 2.4 miles. Leaving the Oak Creek trailhead turn left onto Micco Landing Rd. It is not a very busy road as it is a dead end. Walk between the ranches to the entrance to Starvation Slough. Follow the entrance road to the trailhead.
SOUTHBOUND: Chandler Slough West
Full step-by-step details on this hike, including a trail map, are in our full-color guidebook Florida Trail Hikes.
See our photos of Micco Bluff
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.