It’s a good year for 50:
- The 50th anniversary of the National Trails System, founded by Congress in 1968
- The launch of a new 50 Hikes in Central Florida, first published in 2002
Two years ago, the Florida Trail celebrated 50 years since its founding. Next month, the Florida Trail Association celebrates 50 years of the National Trails System, which started with the designation of the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail as National Scenic Trails in 1968.
From October 5-7, be a part of the National Trails Festival, a free hiking-focused event in Deland, Florida. We’re proud to be one of the sponsors of this major hiker gathering.
FRIDAY, October 5
50 Hikes Book Launch
The weekend kicks off at 3 PM at the Sanborn Center in Deland. Thanks to West Volusia Tourism, the first 50 people who join the Florida Trail Association during this event will receive a free copy of our new third edition of 50 Hikes in Central Florida.
Between 3:30 and 4, we’ll be talking about our favorite hikes in the region covered by the book, and why we chose the trails we did for this particular edition. Until 5 PM, we’ll be signing copies of the new book. If you didn’t grab a freebie, you can purchase a copy from the Florida Trail Association and we’ll sign it then and there.
Exploring Northwest Florida’s Special Places
4-5 PM. Graduate students from the University of North Florida will present information about exploring the Jacksonville area. Sean Lahav has a video series about Jacksonville’s many preserves, while Brandie Brooks will showcase parks throughout Jacksonville, which has the largest urban park system in the United States.
KEYNOTE: Audrey Peterman
5-6:30 PM. In their travels, Audrey and her husband Frank have visited more than 170 National Parks and hundreds of other natural areas throughout the United States. Residents of Fort Lauderdale, they focus on getting people of all ethnic backgrounds into the outdoors to appreciate our shared heritage of natural treasures through our parks and trails.
SATURDAY, October 6
Book in hand, it’s time to find a hike to start your morning! See our map of Deland-area hikes here.
10-12 PM. Or sit in the audience at the Sanborn Center and observe the FNST Coalition Meeting, a gathering of agency heads who make decisions about the future of the Florida Trail.
1-5 PM. Casual workshops will be presented throughout the day by REI, FTA, Hike Like A Woman, and Girls Who Hike Florida. Some of the topics include:
- Hiking Basics 101
- Hiking with Infants & Toddlers
- Hiking with Your Dog
- Water Filtration
- Learning Knot-Tying and Bear-bagging
In addition, these formal seminars will be going on all afternoon.
The Purpose Behind Every Park
1-1:30 PM. Florida Park Service Director Eric Draper shares how trails shaped his thinking about getting people outdoors to enjoy not just our Florida State Parks but also the natural lands throughout America that we all have an interest in.
The Evolution of Ultralight
2-3 PM. Zpacks Brand Manager Matt Favero will talk about how ultralight backpacking gear came about and what it means to you as a backpacker.
How to Grow your Local Outdoor Community
3-4 PM. Outdoor Afro Tallahassee leader Mayowa Ogunjobi discusses how to build an adventure group community through information, volunteering, and mentoring.
Florida’s Spiders and their Kin
4-5 PM. Entomologist John Serrao showcases Florida’s spiders, scorpions, and other arachnids in a slide show that will help you identify these tiny creatures on your next hike, as well as learn that 99% of Florida’s arachnids are harmless to humans.
KEYNOTE: Jennifer Pharr Davis
5-6:30 PM. Author of The Pursuit of Endurance, Becoming Odyssa, and Called Again, Jennifer is best known for setting a new bar with a speed record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011 by running the trail in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, becoming the first woman to set such a record. She has hiked more than 14,000 miles across America, and provides inspiration to those who want to take to the trails.
SUNDAY, October 7
Take a hike!
Today is all about hiking the region. Sign up for a guided hike on one of the many excellent trails around Deland, which we feature in 50 Hikes in Central Florida. Hiking opportunities will include:
- Blue Spring State Park Boardwalk
- Buncombe Hill Nature Trail, Tiger Bay State Forest
- Gemini Springs Park / Gemini Springs Addition
- Indian Mound Trail, Hontoon Island State Park
- Lyonia Preserve
- Pine Island Trail, Lake Woodruff NWR
- St. Francis Trail, Ocala National Forest
- Wild Persimmon Trail, De Leon Springs State Park
How to Prepare
Get a Room
Or bring a tent. If you’re coming for the entire weekend, find yourself a place to stay! The following hotels and campgrounds are offering discount rates to festival attendees. You must use these links to make camping reservations:
- Lake Monroe Park, Debary (Tent camping)
- Gemini Springs Park, Debary (Tent camping)
- Highland Park Fish Camp, Deland (RV camping, deadline Sep 19)
- Hampton Inn, Deland: Call 386-279-7808 before Sep 20 and use the code FTA for $129 rate
- Comfort Inn, Deland: Call 386-736-3100 before Sep 26 and use “Florida Trail” for $109 rate
Or, use the West Volusia Tourism website to find other accommodations in the area
Plan your Meals
FRIDAY. You’re on your own on Friday night. There is nowhere better to be than Deland, with dozens of restaurants directly downtown, within walking distance of the Sanborn Center. Grab a few friends and find a great place to chat over dinner, either in town or on your way to the campground or hotel.
SATURDAY. Breakfast on your own. Several food trucks will be at the Sanborn Center for lunch. A catered BBQ dinner will be available after the Keynote speech on Saturday, 6:30 PM; you must buy tickets in advance for it.
Live music by the Front Porch Backsteppers will be ongoing after dinner is served.
SUNDAY. Breakfast on your own. After your hike, take that final opportunity to spend time with friends over lunch before you head home.
Use the West Volusia Tourism website to find restaurants by cuisine and location