In Central Florida, the Florida Trail presents two options: east or west around the Orlando metro. Both routes were crafted in the 1980s, and both have their high and low points.
Forested public lands provide protection for much of the route, but large portions of the route are urban.
With the unfettered growth of the metro area along the Interstate 4 corridor, it’s no surprise.
On the Western Corridor, the trail roughly follows the northward flow of the Withlacoochee River from its rise in the Green Swamp towards Dunnellon.
To the east, the trail sticks to public lands in the St. Johns River basin, another north-flowing river.
Dense forests along the rivers and open prairies between them characterize this section, which brushes up against the urban boundaries of the Orlando metro in several places.
Urbanization means less-than-ideal footpath in places, so to quickly get through the suburbs of Orlando, the Florida Trail follows paved bike paths for a lengthy stretch.
A long connecting walk on bike paths, sidewalks, and roads is necessary across the southern sweep of the Western Corridor.
TRAIL TOWNS (S to N): Okeechobee, Kenansville (EASTERN CORRIDOR) Christmas, Oviedo, Winter Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Paisley (WESTERN CORRIDOR) Polk City, Dade City, Ridge Manor, Brooksville, Inverness, Dunnellon, Ocala, Belleview, Silver Springs
Each of the sections below correspond to a smaller portion of the Florida Trail in this region, from south to north (Okeechobee to the Ocala National Forest).
111.3 miles. Following the Kissimmee River floodplain, this is a scenic section of the Florida Trail with a mix of levees, shady woods, river views, open prairies, and cattle ranches.
241 miles. With segments linking Withlacoochee State Forest and the Cross Florida Greenway, the Western Corridor provides access to wild spaces between Tampa and Ocala
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