Tackling a Section Hike
Most people who have completed an end-to-end hike of the Florida Trail have done so as section hikers. This trail lends itself to section hiking more than most National Scenic Trails, as trailheads are within an hour of most major metros in the state and there are many intermediate access points as well. In fact, with the exception of the southernmost 30 miles of the trail – crossing the Big Cypress Swamp – nearly all of the trail can be day hiked.
Section Hike or Thru Hike?
Section hiking has its advantages in that you can do it on weekends (as Sandra did early on when she had a full-time job) and knock off a significant amount of trail that way during our prime hiking season of October through April. You can also pick the optimum places to be for avoiding hunting seasons, catching spring and fall wildflowers, marveling at masses of migratory birds along the Big Bend and Lake Okeechobee, and showing up in Olustee during the annual Civil War re-enactment, one of the largest in the South.
Compared to the tight focus of a thru-hike, section hiking is more logistically challenging, mainly in the need to shuttle or place two cars, plus the drive to and from the trail. Connect with Florida Trail Hikers and trail angels via the Florida Trail Hikers Alliance to start chatting with other section hikers to help coordinate logistics for your hike.
Hiking by Section
The Florida Trail is made up of 15 named sections. One of them, the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail, is a spur from Lake Okeechobee to the Atlantic Ocean and is not part of the National Scenic Trail. At the north end of the trail, the Blackwater section is considered an “official side trail” and was blazed blue to the Alabama state line. It is actually one of the oldest pieces of the Florida Trail in the Panhandle and is our trail’s connector to the greater Eastern Continental Trail.
Each of the below groupings of sections correspond to an individual piece of our app. Long distance hikers tend to follow the trail south to north, so you can navigate through the sections of the trail in that fashion using the sidebar on any of our Florida Trail pages. The maps below lead to each of the section pages, which provide details on the hikes found in those sections.
Central Florida West
Suwannee Big Bend
The Florida Trail itself is a portion of a much longer route spanning from Key West to Cap Gaspe, Quebec. We discuss that trail and the specifics for hiking it in Florida here:Eastern Continental Trail.
MAP USAGE: You may use our section maps if credited to FloridaHikes.com and, if shared online, linked back to this page. The same is true for our overview maps. Please be sure to credit us and to link them back to the appropriate section page.
These books of ours contain information on hiking parts of the Florida Trail throughout the state.