Ocala Northeast, Florida Trail
Photo courtesy of Florida Hikes!
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Hike the Florida Trail from southern sandy beaches to northern rolling hills.

Stretching more than 1400 miles (2250 km) across two time zones, the Florida Trail is the southernmost of the National Scenic Trails in the United States. It is a winter destination, best hiked between October and April, with January and February as the prime months for thru-hiking and backpacking. Although there are no mountains, Florida provides challenging hiking with its swampy and sandy terrain, dense vegetation, and humidity. It showcases vast coastlines, open prairies, river valleys, bubbling springs, and a walk along the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Botanical wonders are everywhere as the trail winds through habitats from tropical forests with Caribbean trees to hillsides covered in spring mountain laurel.

1400 mi (2250 km)       $34.99 full guide       8 sections ($2.99 to $6.99 each)
1400 mi (2250 km)
$34.99 full guide
8 sections ($2.99 to $6.99 each)
Download in the App StoreGet it on Google Play
Works Offline, No Data Required

Once you’ve completed the initial setup of the app, all of our trail guides work offline. They use your device’s internal GPS to display your current location and guide you along the route. Offline use includes access to the key features of the guide, including the map, elevation profile, waypoint list, and more.

Trusted Trail Data

All of the data for our routes is collected by trusted individuals and partners, and is kept meticulously up to date. The track of each trail includes side trails and alternate routes, along with key waypoints. Our apps also offer comprehensive town guides, helping you resupply and access other services quickly.

Built for Community

Stay informed about trail conditions ahead by reading other hikers’ waypoint comments, and let other hikers know about your experience by leaving your own comments. Keep your friends and family up to date by sharing your current location from a Google Maps link sent via email or text message.

Offline Maps

Our variety of offline map sets, optionally downloaded as part of the initial setup and accessible offline afterwards, can give you extra quality information such as topographic lines with elevation values and satellite imagery.

Detailed Waypoints

Waypoints are plotted on a map and elevation profile, and each includes its own detail page with photos and descriptions. Water waypoints offer the most up-to-date water information, gathered from trusted sources and checked by other users.

Tailored to You

Plan your day by letting the app calculate the distance to the next campsite, water source, or other waypoint. Not every hike is the same, and we know that. Create your own custom routes using our route builder tool.

Works Offline, No Data Required

Once you’ve completed the initial setup of the app, all of our trail guides work offline. They use your device’s internal GPS to display your current location and guide you along the route. Offline use includes access to the key features of the guide, including the map, elevation profile, waypoint list, and more.

Our variety of offline map sets, optionally downloaded as part of the initial setup and accessible offline afterwards, can give you extra quality information such as topographic lines with elevation values and satellite imagery.

Trusted Trail Data

All of the data for our routes is collected by trusted individuals and partners, and is kept meticulously up to date. The track of each trail includes side trails and alternate routes, along with key waypoints. Our apps also offer comprehensive town guides, helping you resupply and access other services quickly.

Waypoints are plotted on a map and elevation profile, and each includes its own detail page with photos and descriptions. Water waypoints offer the most up-to-date water information, gathered from trusted sources and checked by other users.

Built for Community, Tailored to You

Stay informed about trail conditions ahead by reading other hikers’ waypoint comments, and let other hikers know about your experience by leaving your own comments. Keep your friends and family up to date by sharing your current location from a Google Maps link sent via email or text message.

Plan your day by letting the app calculate the distance to the next campsite, water source, or other waypoint. Not every hike is the same, and we know that. Create your own custom routes using our route builder tool.

How can I buy it?

On iOS devices, this hiking guide is available as an in-app purchase via our Guthook Guides app, a free download from the Apple App Store.

On Android devices, this hiking guide is available for purchase through the Google Play Store.

Download in the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Full Florida Trail in one convenient purchase: a 30% savings over buying the sections separately.

$34.99

At the southern terminus of the Florida Trail, experience America’s answer to the Amazon as you slosh through the middle of the sawgrass savannas and cypress strands of Big Cypress National Preserve. This wild, wet wilderness cradles pockets of rainforest-like beauty amid open prairies and haunting wizened cypress. As the most remote and difficult portion of the Florida Trail, this seasonal section takes some swamp walking savvy. Once on dry land, your feet will take a pounding. More than any other part of Florida, South Florida has been radically reshaped by human activity, the ditching and draining of the Everglades more than a century ago for agriculture. Passing through the sovereign nation of the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation alongside its roads, the trail continues up a series of levees feeding agricultural interests all the way to Lake Okeechobee. As the second largest lake entirely inside the United States, it provides a sense of perspective to your hike, no matter whether you choose to hike east or west around it. The Florida Trail circles it atop a 35-foot-tall dike built before our lifetimes to protect the lake communities from its angry spillover during hurricanes. Overlooking the cradle of sugar cane farming and ranching in South Florida, its views are worth savoring in all directions.

$4.99

One of the more beautiful and difficult backpacking routes in South Florida, the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail is a surprising introduction to wild spaces that you wouldn’t expect to still exist on this heavily populated coast. Created and maintained by the Loxahatchee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association as a spur trail off the Florida Trail, it is routed through the North Everglades Natural Area, a ribbon of public lands between Lake Okeechobee and Hobe Sound Beach. It touches agricultural lands at its western extent, and an upscale beach community along the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a well-groomed county park near Jupiter. But along the rest of the hike, roaming across vast prairies, climbing giant dunes, and wading through cypress strands, it’s hard to imagine over a million people live in the West Palm Beach metro nearby.

$2.99

Defined by the floodplain of two major rivers – the south-flowing Kissimmee and the north-flowing St. Johns – the Central Florida section crosses the heart of cattle country, traversing public lands where free-range cattle roam. Along the Kissimmee River basin, vast prairies and pastures stretch out for miles beyond the more intimate palm and oak hammocks along the ancient shoreline. This is Florida’s big sky country, where stargazing is ideal, especially in the backcountry of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park and Three Lakes WMA. Crossing a private conservancy and ranch, Forever Florida, the trail meets the dark swamps of Bull Creek WMA atop a legacy of historic railroad causeways. A 30-mile gap in the trail through vast Deseret Ranch is bridged by a roadwalk to Tosohatchee WMA, the region’s most botanically diverse preserve. Zigzagging through a maze of palm hammocks along the St. Johns River basin, the trail makes its way to the bluffs of the scenic Econlockhatchee River before it hits a wall of suburbia in the Orlando metro. Here, hikers follow the only protected corridor of public land, along the paved Cross Seminole Trail and Seminole Wekiva Trail, past well-established suburbs and brand-new urban development. Reaching the Wekiva River, it’s time to take to the woods again, here in bear country. It’s an enjoyable immersion in pine flatwoods, scrub, and hardwood forests along a sweep of public lands connecting to the Ocala National Forest.

$6.99

With its oldest segments built throughout Withlacoochee State Forest in the 1970s, the Western Corridor of the Florida Trail is one of two options for circling around the Orlando metro area. For a thru-hiker, connecting northbound to it takes a significant investment in walking along bike paths, sidewalks, and road shoulders for nearly 70 miles. For day hikers and backpackers, there is plenty to explore without ever setting foot on pavement. Loop hikes abound in the Green Swamp, Richloam, Croom, and Citrus sections, including Florida’s longest backpacking loop on a single piece of public land, 39 miles on the rugged Citrus Hiking Trail. The Florida Trail roughly follows the northerly flow of the Withlacoochee River, which rises from the Green Swamp, on its journey towards the Gulf of Mexico. Whenever it parts ways with the river, the land is rolling hills, high and dry and topped with pines.

 

In the riverside community of Dunnellon, the trail leaves the Withlacoochee’s side for the final time. It makes a diagonal across the Ocala Ridge along a mile-wide swath of forests and fields called the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a permanently protected landscape that was once slated to be a cross-Florida canal. Reaching the swamp forests of the St. Johns River basin at Marshall Swamp, it parallels the Ocklawaha River northward for a stretch into the western side of the Ocala National Forest. A final segment of footpath bridges swamp forests with scrub forests as the Florida Trail leads hikers to the east-west junction at the top of the loop around Central Florida, not far from The 88 Store, a popular backwoods watering hole.

$6.99

The oldest section of the Florida Trail, this sweep of trail between the Ocala National Forest and the Osceola National Forest was the first to be completed and the first to be traversed by backpackers in the 1970s. It began in October 1966, when the initial blazes were painted near Clearwater Lake, an act commemorated by a state historic marker at the south end of this section. The Ocala National Forest protects the world’s largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest, which remains high and dry when other portions of the Florida Trail are soggy. Offering 72 unbroken miles of well-worn footpath through sandhills, prairies, pine flatwoods, and the Big Scrub, the Ocala is a compelling backpacking destination.  

 

As the Florida Trail curves its way north and west from the Ocala National Forest, it touches on centuries of Florida’s history, from the British colonial period atop the dikes at Rice Creek to the boom of Civil War cannons through the pine forests at Olustee. Connecting an array of public lands with walks on backroads and a stroll down a former rail line, now the Palatka-Lake Butler Trail, it’s an introduction to a different pace of life. Some of the trail’s day hike gems are found here, including the loop around an ancient floodplain forest at Rice Creek Conservation Area; the bluffs above Etoniah Ravine, which drop more than 40 feet to the creek in Etoniah Creek State Forest; and the rolling sandhills that cradle crystal-clear lakes at Gold Head Branch State Park and Camp Blanding. In Osceola National Forest, it’s always on the soggy side, but the bogs are rich with colorful wildflowers.

$6.99

Containing three of the Florida Trail’s most scenic destinations – the Suwannee River, Aucilla Sinks, and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge – this region sweeps west from Lake City to south of Tallahassee. Hugging the rugged bluffs of the Suwannee River, the first half of this section is a delightful mix of challenging terrain with river views and outstanding geological wonders: deep sinkholes, hundreds of springs, stretches of rapids, and several serious-sized waterfalls. When water levels are low, it’s possible to camp on the river’s white sand beaches. A big gap lies between beauty spots with the loss of a long-standing route through private timberlands; thru-hikers must follow a 48.4 mile roadwalk to connect the Suwannee and Aucilla Rivers.

 

Like the Suwannee, the Aucilla River has high rocky bluffs topped with dense forests, and even a stretch of showy rapids. However, this river vanishes underground, and the trail traces its route along the surface around jagged rocky sinkholes, crossing numerous natural bridges. At St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, the Florida Trail reaches Florida’s coastline. In the Big Bend, beaches are rare; marshes stretch as far as the eye can see out to the Gulf of Mexico. Traversing coastal forests and levees for more than 40 miles, the trail offers the rare opportunity to backpack across a National Wildlife Refuge with designated camping and a river that must be crossed by hailing a boat.

$6.99

In the Apalachicola National Forest, the Florida Trail traverses some of the wettest, wildest swamp forests in Florida, including the legendary Bradwell Bay.  Known for its botanical beauty, particularly for its pitcher plant bogs and terrestrial orchids, the Apalachicola is often soggy underfoot, alternating between pine flatwoods, sandhills, and swamps, with the Sopchoppy River bluffs a dry counterpoint of unusual geology. Until the late 1970s, when the first thru-hikers decided to push it farther, the Florida Trail ended at Camel Lake.

 

As it heads west into the Central Time Zone, the trail is a patchwork of beauty spots sewn together with rural roadwalk connectors. Among the shorter stretches are the paved Blountstown Greenway, which walks right through railroad history in this river community, and the Altha Trail, leading to the Look & Tremble Rapids of the Chipola River. North of Panama City Beach along one of our favorite overnighters, Econfina Creek, the Florida Trail begins to take on a different tone, with steep climbs, high bluffs, sidehill, and colorful springs. In Pine Log State Forest, it hugs close to creek drainages and cypress-lined lakes along the Choctawhatchee River basin. On the west side of this mighty river, a conservation easement through Nokuse Plantation leads hikers into stands of tall longleaf pine, deeply carved ravines, and haunting gum swamps along a footpath stretching 28 miles.

$6.99

Standing in the middle of an ancient magnolia-beech forest, you wonder how it survived the passage of time. Thank Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1909 created Choctawhatchee National Forest. While the national forest evaporated with the onset of World War II, the forests that weren’t of commercial use were spared in the conversion to Eglin Air Force Base. The Florida Trail traverses deeply folded terrain as it stays close to the northern edge of this military reservation’s borders, providing one of the most challenging and satisfying sections of the trail for backpackers, including the trail’s steepest climbs and highest elevations.

 

On the western side of Crestview, the Yellow River Ravines offer a rugged trek through steepheads and bayheads on the north side of this wild river. One final section inside Eglin Air Force Base meanders through sandhills and steepheads around Weaver Creek to East Bay. Following sidewalks and a causeway to Santa Rosa Island, the Seashore section – the final 30 miles of the Florida Trail, or your starting miles if headed southbound – offer salt breezes, sunshine, and a walk on the beaches of Gulf Islands National Seashore, with one designated opportunity to camp in the dunes before trail’s end at Fort Pickens, the northern terminus.

$6.99

An official connector to the Florida National Scenic Trail, the Blackwater section takes a blue-blazed branch of the Florida Trail up to the Alabama State Line. It links up with the Alabama Hiking Trail – also part of the greater Eastern Continental Trail – which in turn leads to the Pinhoti Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Traversing Florida’s largest state forest, 190,000 acres of pine flatwoods and clayhills along the scenic Blackwater River and its tributaries, this beautiful section of the trail walks you through Atlantic white cedar swamps and hills topped with longleaf pine forests, pitcher plant bogs, and along the scenic shorelines of the river and its tributaries.

 

Partly established along the route Andrew Jackson took when leading a military raid on Spanish-held Pensacola in 1818, the Florida Trail utilizes parts of three hiking trails to reach Alabama: the Juniper Creek Trail, the Jackson Red Ground Trail, and the Wiregrass Trail. Two trail shelters, a relative rarity along the Florida Trail, are among the many locations where backpackers can camp for the night.

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Florida Hikes!

Florida Hikes is a collaboration of Sandra Friend and John Keatley. Sandra and John are Florida authors who love to enjoy the outdoors as a couple. They offer extensive resources and guides for those looking for places to hike, bike, camp, and paddle.

Atlas Guides has partnered with Florida Hikes to create The Florida Trail Guide, and we work together continually to keep the app up to date and relevant.

Learn more about Florida Hikes!