75.5 miles Lake City, Live Oak, Madison, & White Springs
Combining rugged terrain and beauty in one package, it’s no wonder that the Suwannee section of the Florida Trail is well-loved by backpackers, especially in early spring when fragrant wild azaleas are in bloom. Experience challenging terrain as you clamber in and out of valleys cut deeply by floodwaters and tributaries feeding the Suwannee River, and see some of the region’s geological wonders firsthand – deep sinkholes, hundreds of springs, stretches of rapids, and several serious-sized waterfalls. The views are fabulous all along the river, and when water levels are low, white sand beaches invite a night’s stay.
FLOODING can make hiking along the Suwannee River and its tributaries dangerous. Check real-time river levels provided by Suwannee River Water Management District. Do not enter flowing waters. Use roadwalks to skirt flooded areas.
The Suwannee section is one of the few places on the Florida Trail that you can stay in cabins and B&Bs along the entire route. There are cabins at Stephen Foster Folk Culture State Park in White Springs as well as the White Springs B&B. At Suwannee Springs, there is an AirBnB right by the spring, plus cabins across the highway at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Finally, there are cabins at Suwannee River State Park, and a lovely riverfront inn, the Village Lodge, at Dowling Park. These can be used as base camps for day hiking the entire Suwannee section.
Fees apply if you leave a car at Suwannee River State Park and Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. These are the safest places to leave a car during a backpacking trip, inside the park gates at the trailhead parking areas. Check at the ranger station for fees.
Shuttle services are available from American Canoe Adventures in White Springs and from Suwannee Canoe Outpost at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, making it easy to place a car at one end of your hike and be shuttled to a far point to hike back to it. It’s also possible to hike north along the river to White Springs, then rent a canoe and do a paddling trip south to Dowling Park to make a hike/paddle loop.
March is a fabulous time to hike along the Suwannee because of the colorful wildflowers, especially the very fragrant Florida azalea.
- Big Oak Trail- 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.
- Disappearing Creek at Camp Branch- On the Disappearing Creek Loop off the Florida Trail along the Suwannee River, watch Camp Branch burble through rapids and cascade into a giant sinkhole
- Florida Trail, Bell Springs to Big Shoals- With Florida's only Class III whitewater and the beauty of a Florida waterfall along a stretch of trail that is rugged but extremely scenic, this 2.8 mile section of the Florida Trail is a real winner
- Florida Trail, Camp Branch to Suwannee Springs- 7.4 miles. Rugged climbs through abandoned river channels and along the highest elevations along the Suwannee River make this hike a serious roller-coaster through river bluff forests and sandy beaches.
- Florida Trail, CR25A to Stephen Foster- This roly-poly section of the Florida Trail is pretty rugged despite its short distance, since it involves a lot of scrambling in and out of ravines and eroded bluffs created when the Suwannee River seasonally overflows its banks.
SOUTHBOUND << Northeast Florida NORTHBOUND >> Big Bend
Florida Trail Videos (Suwannee)
- Au Naturale in White Springs- Expect a reroute of the Florida Trail in White Springs, as the Suwannee Valley Campground has been purchased and turned into a nudist resort.
- Hiking inn-to-inn on the Florida Trail- As part of a question sent to me by Rick, a reader in New England, he asked “we would be interested to find an area where we hike from inn to inn over a few days” as part of a vacation day hiking in Florida. As I’m in the midst of working on a new […]
- I Did A (Bit of) I Did-A-Hike- Despite pouring rain and thunderstorms, nearly 240 people showed up to tackle the Florida Trail along the Suwannee River for the annual I-Did-A-Hike, and it made for a memorable experience.
- I Did I-Did-A-Hike- On the 2009 I-Did-A-Hike, 40 participants enjoyed special access to a portion of the Florida Trail that is not formalized yet, but when it is, will lead hikers right past the famed Big Shoals.
- Mountain biking and the Florida Trail- It's Florida Biking Month! Which makes it a good time to talk about bikes and the Florida Trail, and how to ride your bike to, but not on, our statewide National Scenic Trail when it's in the woods.
- Permanent closure of the Florida Trail between Suwannee and Aucilla Rivers- A permanent closure of 55 miles of the Florida Trail between the Suwannee and Aucilla Rivers leaves thru-hikers no alternative but a very lengthy roadwalk
- The Florida Trail: A History- How to order a copy of The Florida Trail: Florida's National Scenic Trail, our limited edition full-color coffee table book that tells the comprehensive story of the first 50 years of routing, building, maintaining, and enjoying our statewide National Scenic Trail.