The Florida Trail: Florida’s National Scenic Trail
A 50th anniversary history of our state’s longest trail and oldest recreational resource
First Place, Outdoor Book. Florida Outdoor Writers Association, 2017
In 2016, we published our most comprehensive work about the Florida Trail. It is a keepsake, a showy 9×12″ coffee table book with 228 pages in full color.
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HARDCOVER. $79.95. Less than 115 copies remain of the hardcover edition of 250 numbered copies signed by the authors. You are welcome to ask for a custom or gift inscription. Please specify below in the order form.
SOFTCOVER. $49.95. To help spread the word about the Florida Trail, we produced a softcover edition. The contents of both books are the same. The softcover books are shrink-wrapped to protect the cover in shipping. They will not be signed by us unless you specifically request we open the package to sign it.
This limited edition book will never be reissued. Your price in the order form is the cover price plus shipping and handling plus 7% sales tax. We ship via USPS.
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Don’t like Paypal? Send us a check. Make checks payable to “Florida Hikes.” Send your check to: Florida Hikes, PO Box 93, Mims FL 32754. Please note that since we frequently travel, we may not find your check for a while, so it’s always good to email us with a heads-up that you’ve sent one to us, and we can in turn tell you how soon we can ship. The following costs apply.
$93.00, includes tax and shipping. All hardcovers are signed and numbered. More than half of the 250 copies have already been sold. If you want a special inscription please specify.
$57.00, includes tax and shipping. Softcover copies are shrink-wrapped, so if you want yours signed, please let us know by including specific instructions with your check and we’ll open it up to sign it.
To make this book happen took time and an in-depth knowledge of the trail. Over the course of a decade, we interviewed more than a hundred people involved with the Florida Trail, from long-time volunteer trail maintainers to long distance hikers.
We spent many hours with Jim Kern, the founder of the Florida Trail, and Margaret Scruggs, the first executive secretary. We interviewed past presidents and top volunteers, some of whom opened up their personal photo archives to us.
We had the support of the Florida Trail Association, where we scooped up the photo archives and, thanks to a generous donation by E-Z Photo in Altamonte Springs, had all slides and photos scanned.
We also worked with our own two decades of Florida Trail imagery, of both the trail itself and events along it, carefully looking through more than 100,000 photos to select those that would help tell the trail’s story.
Interwoven through the book are our personal stories of being involved with the Florida Trail over our lifetimes. For John, his story goes back almost to the founding of the trail, when as a Boy Scout he earned his backpacking merit badge on the newly built Florida Trail.
Sandra became an FTA volunteer in 1999, serving not just as a trail maintainer and activity leader but also in many leadership roles. She served as the organization’s Communications Director from 2003 to 2008. In 2018, Sandra was honored as a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Trail Association.
Among the book’s many pages of history, photos of the trail and its builders, and stories from hikers and FTA members, you’ll also find:
- A full page 2016 map of the Florida Trail.
- A section devoted to the sections of the Florida Trail, with contemporary images.
- A photo gallery of all Florida Trail System trails, with GPS coordinates to trailheads.
- A bibliography of all books written about the Florida Trail.
- Photos and stories from the first hikers to walk end-to-end on the Florida Trail.
- Photos and stories from Florida Trail thru-hikers.
- Full rosters of recipients of the Florida Trail Association’s top awards: Cornelia Burge Award, John Weary Trail Worker Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award
- A photo gallery and timeline for all FTA Presidents.
- Historic maps, dating back as far as 1969.
- A photo gallery of 16 years of Florida Trail themed quilts by Linda Benton.
- A list of all FTA Chapters and when they were established.
- Images of most of the patches issued by the Florida Trail Association.
- A six page index, which includes everyone we were able to identify in photos.
Jim Kern, the founder of the Florida Trail, contributed the foreword. He provides both a look back and a look ahead at the enthusiasm that carried his idea into reality.
The Florida Trail by Section
Providing a rich visual overview of the Florida Trail end to end, this 64-page segment of the book walks you through each of the 16 major sections of the Florida Trail, from Big Cypress at the south end to Seashore and Blackwater at the north end, with anecdotes about how and why each portion was built.
The Evolution of the Florida Trail
Fourteen chapters provide the background of how the trail came to be, from initial route finding and mapping to applying for National Scenic Trail status, coming under US Forest Service management, and changes to the trail route over the years.
The process of trail maintenance in Florida is explained, along with the changes in trail construction between the early days and today. A chapter on Shelters explains why the Florida Trail has so few along its length, and where to find the ones that exist.
A chapter on Lost Landscapes talks about abandoned trail routes. The Florida Trail System provides a comprehensive overview of all hiking trails in Florida built by the Florida Trail Association, some of which are abandoned routes and others built to serve local communities or at the request of public land managers. GPS coordinates are included so you can find these trails.
Across four chapters and 24 pages, we tell the story of why the trail was built: to provide a place in Florida for backpackers to explore the outdoors. This section recounts the history of long distance hiking on the Florida Trail, from early pioneers like Dorothy Laker and Cecil Kirkham to the first documented thru-hikes across the state of Florida in 1989, as well as how information to support long distance hiking has changed over the decades.
A section on Hiker Support explains the growth of the hiking community in Florida and the parallel growth of trail angels facilitating long distance hiker goals.
The Florida Trail Association
Eight chapters cover the rich history of the Florida Trail Association. This section of the book tackles the role of volunteers and recounts notable volunteers and awardees over five decades, as well as the establishment of local chapters of the Association throughout the state.
Major annual events and gatherings are recapped, along with a shout-out to the importance of statewide trail maintenance crews and some hefty personal contributions by a handful of volunteers who’ve made a significant impact through their actions.
The book ends with a look to the future. How will the trail further evolve? How will it be completed, with nearly 300 miles of gaps remaining? Land managers and long-time volunteers weigh in, along with the FNST manager. The afterword is by Carlos Schomaker, President of the Florida Trail Association during its 50th anniversary year.
Our six page index makes it easy to find information on a particular point in Florida Trail history or a particular location along the trail.
It includes every person we could identify in photos throughout the book, no matter whether their name was in the caption or not.
Retired librarian and long-time Florida Trail volunteer Linda “Earthworm” Patton dug through the details as our editor.
Linda is best known as the volunteer who has made the Appalachian Trail Museum Research Library a reality. As the research library contains information about all of America’s National Scenic Trails, you will find this book on its shelves.
To ensure accuracy, botanist Rick Ehle provided the botanical expertise for identification of wildflowers in photos throughout the book.
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