While Florida lacks the mountains and steep hills commonly associated with hiking, it still contains scenic trails with abundant wildlife. Whether meandering through lush wetlands or exploring hardwood forests and scrub, Florida hikers can enjoy diverse landscapes while getting a great workout. Check out Florida’s most beautiful and iconic hiking trails, including the difficulty level and wildlife you may encounter.
1. Black Bear Wilderness Area
Located within the floodplain of the St. John’s River, Black Bear Wilderness Area is located in Sanford, Florida, where it features 1,600 acres of wetland habitats. Visitors can walk, jog, or bike on trails and boardwalks that wind through marshes and swamps. True to its name, this wilderness area is home to Florida black bears, white-tailed deer, alligators, and many birds. The main trail is around seven miles long, takes around two hours to complete, and is moderately challenging.
2. Little Big Econ State Forest
This 10,000-acre state forest is in Central Florida a few miles east of Downtown Oviedo. This historic natural area gets its name from the Econlockhatchee River, which flows 17 miles through the forest before emptying into the St. Johns River. Hikers can walk through wet prairies, pine flatwoods, and sandhills while checking for alligators, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and roseate spoonbills. The Kolokee Loop Trail is one of the best trails within the forest. It’s an easy five-mile hike on a well-maintained path. You can also try the Florida Trail, which is a bit more challenging.
3. Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park is one of the most iconic parks and natural areas in Florida. The park protects twenty percent of the Everglades and is the largest tropical wilderness in America. This remarkable landscape is home to diverse wildlife, like manatees, American crocodiles, and Florida panthers. Hiking, birding, and boating are some of the most popular activities in the Everglades. The short 15-minute walk along the Anhinga Trail is one of the most scenic in the state, or you can take the Shark Valley Tram route, which meanders for 14 miles. Both trails are relatively easy.
4. Wekiwa Springs State Park
Located in Apopka about 20 minutes north of Orlando, Wekiwa Springs State Park is 7,000 acres of lush tropical hammocks and crystal-clear springs that feed that Wekiwa River. Visitors can swim in the emerald waters, kayak, or hike the many trails. Its paradise-like surroundings attract many tourists throughout the year and offers an oasis from the big city. Wekiwa Springs State Park has several trails with varying lengths for people of all skills. The Volksmarch Trail is one of the most popular within the park. It’s an easy route that winds through vegetation for over five miles.
5. Hillsborough River State Park
The Hillsborough River State Park is near Zephyrhills outside of Tampa. This state park is over 3,000 acres and features more than seven miles of trails. You will find an oasis of wildlife, nature, and abundant recreation within minutes of the big city. Visitors can enjoy river rapids, hiking, fishing, and historic structures. The trails wind through wetlands and other scenic areas. The Baynard and Seminole trails are around five miles long and you can walk them as a casual stroll or pick up the pace and go for a jog.
6. Weedon Island Preserve
This 3,000-acre natural area is in St. Petersburg, along the western shore of Tampa Bay. This expansive park consists of upland and aquatic ecosystems, with diverse wildlife, such as frogs, alligators, snakes, and wading birds. It’s a well-known birding and fishing spot in the Tampa Bay area, but visitors also enjoy an easy and scenic hike. The Weedon Island Preserve Trail is a loop trail that’s around four miles total.
Florida’s Most Beautiful and Iconic Hiking Trails: A Recap of the Top 6
|Rank||Hiking Area||Best Hiking Trails||Difficulty Level|
|#1||Black Bear Wilderness Area||Black Bear Wilderness Area Trail||Moderate|
|#2||Little Big Econ State Forest||Kolokee Loop Trail and Florida Trail||Easy to Moderate|
|#3||Everglades National Park||Anhinga Trail or Shark Valley Tram Trail||Easy|
|#4||Wekiwa Springs State Park||Volksmarch Trail||Easy|
|#5||Hillsborough River State Park||Baynard Trail and Seminole Trail||Easy|
|#6||Weedon Island Preserve||Weedon Island Preserve Trail||Easy|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © SuJo Studios/Shutterstock.com
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