Here are some of the more common questions we’ve fielded over the years from folks who want to square away their logistics well before they hit the trail.
It’s smart to keep in mind that hiking in Florida is different than hiking in the rest of the United States. Plan accordingly!
When Should I Hike?
For hikers who want to walk more than five miles in a day, the best time of year is between late October and mid-April.
Backpackers prefer January through March. Day hikers can get out early any time of year, but in the summer months, should be off the trail before noon.
What Should I Bring?
At an absolute minimum, every hiker needs to carry enough water and food for the trip, a map, GPS or compass, and first aid basics.
Consider a hiking stick, too. You’ll find it handy for slippery mud, unexpected wading, clearing the path of spider webs, and fending off any problematic critters.
What Should I Wear?
Lightweight, breathable clothing that can stand up to humidity and heat. Even on cool days, you’ll find us wearing quick-dry nylon pants.
Think Coolmax shirts, lightweight socks that wick moisture well (never cotton!), either running shoes or lightweight hiking boots, and a hat, usually a baseball cap or something else with a brim.
There is little need for hiking boots in Florida unless you’re doing a backpacking trip somewhere up in the Panhandle or North Florida. Better to have footwear that breathes and drains water, especially if you’re hiking in South Florida!
Where Should I Go?
If you’re a day hiker and new to Florida hiking, visit Florida State Parks for a wide array of gentle trails, all of which have nearby facilities like restrooms and water fountains.
More experienced day hikers will enjoy the longer trails in Florida State Forests and in our many natural lands across the state.
For backpackers, the Florida Trail our a prime destination, with both weekend loops on public lands and long-distance linear hikes ranging from a week to a couple of months.
How Should I Hike?
Use common sense for your own safety. Always let someone know where you’re going and check in with them when you return. Carry a cell phone if it makes you comfortable, especially if you are hiking solo.
Keep in mind that many wilderness areas have no cell service. Follow Leave No Trace principles.
More Hiking Advice
The Ten Essentials and More: a checklist for items to bring when day hiking and backpacking in Florida, to plan for the differences you’ll encounter in Florida’s unique conditions
One of the best digital tools for connecting with fellow hikers, Meetup.com provides a treasure trove of organized groups for you to join and get out on a hike this hiking season.
Basic wayfinding – understanding where the sun is, looking at landscape, picking out landmarks as you hike – comes as second nature to some people. It’s an important skill that all hikers should cultivate.
What does a hiker need to spend a week, or a month, or three months on the trail? Here are trail-tested suggestions for backpacking in Florida for trips of a week or more
Details on how to obtain passes and permits for Florida’s public lands, including Florida State Parks, State Forests, Wildlife Management Areas, National Federal Lands, and Eglin Air Force Base.