Okeechobee is the heart of Florida’s old frontier, surrounded by vast prairies with cattle ranches and the sweep of Lake Okeechobee, one of America’s largest lakes. Hikes in this area treat you to the “Big Sky” that only this region of South Central Florida can offer.
The Florida Trail follows the curve of Lake Okeechobee to the east and west, and it and heads up north along the Kissimmee River, affording more than 100 miles of backpacking easily accessed from this community in Florida’s heartland. Okeechobee is one of the central locations for camping during the annual Big O Hike around Lake Okeechobee.
Trails and Parks in Okeechobee
- Florida Trail, Chandler Slough West - It looks like a mountain ridge from a distance, but Chandler Slough is a ribbon of cypress strand through the flat Okeechobee prairies. This 4.3 mile Florida Trail section follows its rim, through beautiful oak hammocks and soggy marshes
- Florida Trail, Henry Creek to Okeechobee - 8.6 miles. Along the north shoreline of Lake Okeechobee, this paved segment of the Florida Trail is one of its prettiest, offering sweeping views of the lake.
- Florida Trail, Kissimmee - 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.
- Florida Trail, Ocean to Lake: DuPuis Reserve - On this western end of the Ocean-to-Lake section of the Florida Trail, the trail leads you to the heart of DuPuis Reserve, zigzagging through pine forests and cypress domes
- Florida Trail, Ocean to Lake: DuPuis to Corbett - Deep in the heart of the Ocean-to-Lake Greenway, this 9.7 mile segment of the Florida Trail bridging DuPuis Reserve and Corbett WMA is one of the most wild and scenic treks in southeastern Florida
- Florida Trail, Okee-tantie to Platts Bluff - Following the Kissimmee River north from where it empties into Lake Okeechobee, the Florida Trail is atop a dike above a vast expanse of open prairie in ranchland.
- Florida Trail, Okeechobee - 112.8 miles. Looping around one of America's largest lakes, the Okeechobee section of the Florida Trail provides panoramic views from atop the Herbert Hoover Dike.
- Florida Trail, Port Mayaca to Henry Creek - 14 miles. In an arc between ancient natural shoreline and expansive waters, this hike along Lake Okeechobee's eastern shore offers unparalleled vistas.
- Florida Trail, Yates Marsh - Along this 3.3-mile section of the Florida Trail in the heart of the Kissimmee prairies, Yates Marsh is not marshy, but a hike in natural habitats and pasture along the river.
- Fort Center - Explore Fort Center, a pre-Colombian village lost in Florida’s past – and uncovered again by archaeologists – by following this trail in Fisheating Creek WMA.
- Harney Pond Canal Recreation Area - Where’s the best view of Lake Okeechobee? It’s hidden in plain sight in the town of Lakeport, in a park that’s alternately known as the Harney Pond Canal Recreation Area and Margaret Van De Velde Park.
- Hickory Hammock Trail - With moss-draped oaks and tall hickory trees, stands of cabbage palms and a beautiful campsite, the Hickory Hammock Trail is an enjoyable destination
- Kilpatrick Hammock Trail - For a small sample of a habitats found in and around the hammocks that dot the vast Kissimmee Prairie, hike the Kilpatrick Hammock Trail at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
- Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park - Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park protects a remnant of what was once the great Indian Prairie stretching to Lake Okeechobee, a mosaic of wet and dry grasslands where wildflowers flourish.
- Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail - An overlay on the Florida Trail around Lake Okeechobee, the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail provides a mostly paved cycling and walking route around the second largest lake entirely within the borders of the United States.
- Okeechobee Battlefield State Park - Open only once annually for a re-enactment of the battle, Okeechobee Battlefield State Park protects a part of the landscape where the Battle of Okeechobee occurred during the Second Seminole War on Christmas Day, 1837.
- Rafael Sanchez Trail - Snaking through an oh-so-slender slice of the rocky Okeechobee Ridge, the relict shoreline of Lake Okeechobee, the Rafael Sanchez Trail stays in deep shade for its 5.7 mile traverse of this skinny stretch of forest.
- Taylor Creek STA - Encompassing the ancient shoreline of Taylor Creek and man-made marshes, this wetlands park is a gem for birding and wildlife watching just north of Okeechobee.