Hiking in Florida

Hiking in Florida may sound like a joke; we hike to the beach, we hike to the mall, we hike around theme parks, but with hundreds of thousands of acres of natural areas, taking a hike is a whole different thing in Northwest Florida.

Point Washington State ForestDall-day hiking or a light forest stroll, it's your choice.

There are dozens of hiking trails throughout the region varying from less than a mile to hundreds of miles long. They wind their way along the coastline and inland through state parks and state and national forests. 

Florida Rail to Trail projectThe paved Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail is over 20 miles long.

Some are “civilized” paved trails that have been converted from former railroad tracks or run parallel to scenic highways. (Click here for the official paved trail guide.)

Others run through forests and swamps that are as wild as when Hernando de Soto and his men tramped through them in 1540.

Nearly one third of the 1100 mile cross-state National Florida Trail runs through the region. The eastern portion of it goes through the Apalachicola National Forest and the western portion finishes at the Gulf Islands National Seashore. A northern leg goes through the Blackwater River State Forest into Alabama where it connects with the Conecuh Trail through the unique ecosystem of the Conecuh National Forest.

Hiking in Florida - Northwest Region

Most of these Northwest Florida hiking trails are well marked and are excellent for day hikes and short walks. Maps are often available at trailheads, particularly in the state parks. As with any venture into the woods, be prepared for bugs and carry bug repellent, sunscreen and drinking water. Remember that whatever you carry in, you must carry out and leave only your footprints.

Point Washington StateForestTrail markings in the Point Washington State Forest

Hiking in Florida can be an amazing experience with potential sightings of rare birds and other wildlife, but remember this is wild territory so watch out for snakes, alligators, bobcats and bears. Most of the time they will see you before you see them and they are happy to leave you alone.

Point Washington State ForestLong-leaf pines and short leaf pines live side by side.

I’ve covered some ground, but there are many trails I haven’t yet been on. If there’s a trail you think we should cover, contact me and let me know where and why. So put on your hiking boots and let’s get started.

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It's a beautiful day in Northwest Florida. Come on down.