Following the Kissimmee River north from where it empties into Lake Okeechobee, this segment of the Florida Trail is a connector to natural lands north of Okeechobee.
It mirrors the feel of the Okeechobee section since much of it is atop a dike created when the river was turned into a ditch in the 1960s by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Once the trail leaves the river at the S-65A Lock, the final 6.5 miles of the hike is a roadwalk along paved roads off SR 70 leading to a small community at Platts Bluff.
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Length: 14.9 miles linear
Trailhead: 27.148696, -80.867300
Address: 10100 W SR 78, Okeechobee
Restroom: at Scott Driver Park
Land manager: South Florida Water Management District
Phone: 561-924-5310 ext. 3333, weekdays. Ask for Kim Willis.
Scott Driver Park off SR 78 in Okee-tantie is the main trailhead for this section and the best place to leave a car if tackling an overnight or more starting at the south end of the Kissimmee section.
Platts Bluff County Park [27.29623,-80.99382] is the trailhead at the north end of this hike. Okeechobee County manages both Scott Driver Park and Platts Bluff. Phone: 863-763-6950
There are no designated campsites along this section. 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.
Scott Driver Park: follow US 441 south from SR 70 in downtown Okeechobee to the lake. Turn right at the T at the dike. Follow SR 78 west for 4.5 miles. The park entrance is on the right just after you go up and over the dike that the Florida Trail crosses.
Platts Bluff County Park: follow SR 70 west from Okeechobee for 7.5 miles to NW 128th Ave. Turn right and continue 5.6 miles, going through a sharp left turn at one point, until the road ends at the park.
Leaving the parking area at Scott Driver Park, walk uphill away from the river to the dike. Follow it away from SR 78, reaching a gate after a half mile.
The levee is topped with an unpaved limerock surface with a grassy center, providing elevation for views but no shade. Underbrush along the river shoreline quickly blocks off views of the water.
Because of the elevation over the surrounding flatlands, you can see a mile or more across the cattle ranches. The trail curves along with the river. A canal parallels the dike on the right, where alligators may sun on the banks.
The C6 water control structure is the first notable landmark at 1.5 miles. A dirt road near the river enables anglers to get to it and to this dike.
Since there is nothing to blaze, blazes are few. A post sports an orange blaze at 2.2 miles, followed by a rock in the right track of the road around 3 miles.
The landscape settles into a certain monotony until you reach a fork in the dike at 5.3 miles. Keep left. A small parking area at the river provides access to filter water as well as a patch of shade under a palm tree.
Just beyond it is the S-154 water control structure, with a blazed pass-thru stile for hikers. More blazes lead you through the complex.
The dike narrows and crosses a bridge over a canal. Agricultural lands to the east yield to cabbage palm hammock and a dwindling stretch of forest.
At 6.7 miles is another good access point for water from the Kissimmee River. The trail continues along the rough two-track road atop the dike.
After passing a water structure on the river that looks like a bunch of low, old oil containers filled with gravel on either side of the river, views open up to the east across cattle ranches.
The S-65E Lock is at 8.2 miles. Orange blazes lead you down to the right under a big live oak and a small cluster of trees. There is non-potable water from a spigot at the lock.
Passing through a stile, continue up the access road leading away from the lock. It makes a beeline through cattle ranches and orange groves to meet SR 70.
Carefully cross SR 70 and continue along the paved road, NW 128th Avenue, on the opposite side. One side of the road is residential, the other is a sod farm.
The road is long and straight. Expect to see sandhill cranes in the fields. Ditches parallel the road on both sides as cattle ranches replace homes.
At 12.9 miles, a stop sign marks the intersection of NW 56th Street and NW 128th Avenue. Turn left. Be cautious of drivers on this narrow road, as well as dogs in people’s yards.
Pass a stable, a slough, and side roads. When you reach the turnaround for cars at a curve in the road, the trail follows the curve into the shade of live oaks and cabbage palms at Platts Bluff County Park, completing this 14.9 mile hike.
River access is at the boat ramp into the Kissimmee River. The blazes leave the park northbound on a dirt road headed for Yates Marsh.
NORTHBOUND: Yates Marsh
SOUTHBOUND (EAST): Indian Prairie Canal to Okee-tantie
SOUTHBOUND (WEST): Okeechobee to Okee-tantie
See our photos of Okee-tantie to Platts Bluff
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