Walking on Sunshine – The 10 Best Hikes in Florida

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Venture into the breathtaking wilderness of the Sunshine State and experience some of the most spectacular landscapes that Florida has to offer. From lush forests to coastal trails, Florida is home to an array of diverse and exciting hiking opportunities. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for a new challenge or a beginner seeking a picturesque stroll, there’s something for everyone in our curated list of the 10 best hikes in Florida. Prepare to be amazed by the beauty and tranquility that awaits you on these unforgettable outdoor adventures.

Get ready to explore some of Florida’s most stunning natural wonders, from the unique ecosystems of the Everglades to the pristine beaches of the Gulf Coast. Our expertly curated selection of hikes showcases the best of the best when it comes to outdoor exploration in the Sunshine State. So lace up your hiking boots, pack plenty of water and snacks, and get ready to embark on a journey through some of the most spectacular landscapes that Florida has to offer.


Key Takeaways:

  • Florida offers diverse hiking opportunities: From coastal trails to swamps and forests, Florida has a variety of landscapes to explore on foot.
  • Unique wildlife sightings: Hikers may encounter diverse wildlife like alligators, manatees, and exotic birds on Florida’s hiking trails.
  • Scenic views: The state offers stunning views, including coastal panoramas, crystalline springs, and old-growth forests.
  • Accessible trails: Many Florida hiking trails are accessible to hikers of all skill levels, making it a great destination for beginners and experienced hikers alike.
  • Year-round hiking season: Florida’s temperate climate allows for year-round hiking, making it a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts any time of the year.
  • Historical and cultural significance: Several trails in Florida offer opportunities to explore historical and cultural sites, adding a unique dimension to the hiking experience.
  • Ecotourism and conservation: Hiking in Florida supports ecotourism and conservation efforts, contributing to the preservation of the state’s natural beauty.

Torreya State Park

Before you embark on your next hiking adventure in Florida, be sure to add Torreya State Park to your list. This hidden gem offers some of the most breathtaking views and challenging terrain in the state. With a variety of trails to choose from, this park is a hiker’s paradise.

Challenging Terrain

On the hunt for a more strenuous hike? Torreya State Park has got you covered. The park’s rugged terrain and steep elevation changes make for an exhilarating challenge. As you navigate through the dense forests and rocky pathways, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Apalachicola River and surrounding landscapes. Be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks, as this hike is not for the faint of heart.

Picturesque Bluffs

Bluffs at Torreya State Park provide an awe-inspiring backdrop to your hiking experience. These towering rock formations offer panoramic views of the river below and are the perfect spot to catch your breath and take in the beauty of the park. The unique landscape of the bluffs is a photographer’s dream, so be sure to bring your camera along for the journey. Don’t forget to practice caution while exploring this area, as the steep drop-offs can be dangerous.

The Florida Trail

Even amidst the flat terrain and sandy beaches of Florida, hikers can find a hidden gem in The Florida Trail. This 1,300-mile long National Scenic Trail offers a unique opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the diverse landscapes of the Sunshine State on foot.

Statewide Span

One of the most remarkable aspects of The Florida Trail is its statewide span, stretching from the Big Cypress National Preserve in South Florida to the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the panhandle. The trail meanders through national forests, state parks, and wildlife management areas, granting hikers the chance to experience the natural beauty of Florida from top to bottom.

Diverse Ecosystems

With its extensive length, The Florida Trail traverses a wide range of ecosystems, including pine flatwoods, cypress swamps, prairies, and coastal dunes. Hikers have the opportunity to observe an array of flora and fauna, from delicate wildflowers to elusive wildlife.

Statewide, hikers can encounter unique natural features such as crystal-clear springs, towering oak trees, and diverse bird species, making every step a captivating and enriching experience.

Ocala National Forest

Unlike other parts of Florida, Ocala National Forest offers a different kind of hiking experience. With its diverse landscapes, this forest provides a variety of trails that cater to all levels of hikers. Whether you’re seeking serene lakes, dense pine forests, or abundant wildlife, Ocala National Forest has it all.

Springs and Lakes

Forest goers will be delighted to find numerous springs and lakes throughout the Ocala National Forest. These crystal-clear springs and pristine lakes offer scenic views and opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and boating. The area is also known for its diverse wildlife, with the chance to spot manatees, alligators, and various bird species.

Pine Forests

To experience the beauty of the Ocala National Forest, hikers can explore the expansive pine forests that dominate the landscape. The aroma of pine trees fills the air as you wander through the shaded trails, providing a peaceful and secluded environment for hiking. These forests are home to a variety of flora and fauna, including oak trees, deer, and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

Forests in Ocala National Forest also provide habitat for various types of wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, and squirrels. The pine forests offer a sense of tranquility and seclusion, making them a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Everglades National Park

For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, a visit to the Everglades National Park is a must. This unique wetland ecosystem is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, making it a paradise for hikers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. With its vast expanse of swamps, marshes, and forests, the park offers a myriad of hiking trails that cater to all levels of experience.

Anhinga Trail

For hikers looking to immerse themselves in the heart of the Everglades, the Anhinga Trail is a popular choice. This easy 0.8-mile loop trail winds through a sawgrass marsh and offers a close-up look at the park’s abundant wildlife. Visitors can expect to see a variety of bird species, alligators, and other native animals in their natural habitat. The trail also features an elevated boardwalk, providing a safe and dry path for hikers to explore the wetlands.

Exotic Wildlife

For those seeking an up-close encounter with the exotic wildlife of the Everglades, this national park does not disappoint. From the famous Florida panther to the elusive West Indian manatee, the park is teeming with rare and endangered species. Hikers may also spot the colorful plumage of the roseate spoonbill or the graceful glide of the endangered Everglades snail kite. The park’s diverse wildlife population truly makes it a thrilling destination for nature enthusiasts.

It is important to remember that the Everglades is home to a number of dangerous animals, including alligators and venomous snakes. Hikers should exercise caution and stay on designated trails to ensure a safe and memorable experience. With that being said, the opportunity to witness these incredible creatures in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience that highlights the importance of conservation and preservation efforts.

Big Cypress National Preserve

After exploring the sun-soaked beaches and vibrant city life of Florida, take a deep dive into the fascinating wilderness of Big Cypress National Preserve. This sprawling preserve covers over 700,000 acres of swamps, hardwood hammocks, and diverse ecosystems that make it a prime destination for hikers, nature enthusiasts, and wildlife lovers.

Swamp Boardwalks

Any visitor to Big Cypress National Preserve should make a point to experience the unique beauty of the swamp boardwalks. These wooden pathways wind through the marshy landscape, allowing hikers to get up close and personal with the flora and fauna that thrive in this wetland environment. The tranquil setting and the opportunity to spot wildlife make these boardwalks a must-visit for anyone exploring the preserve.

Abundant Alligators

Swamp enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that Big Cypress National Preserve is home to an abundant population of alligators. These prehistoric creatures can be spotted basking in the sun along the waterways or silently gliding through the murky waters. Hikers should always maintain a safe distance and be aware of their surroundings while enjoying these magnificent reptiles in their natural habitat.

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Myakka River State Park

Your journey through the best hiking trails in Florida would not be complete without a visit to Myakka River State Park. As one of the oldest and largest state parks in Florida, Myakka River State Park offers a diverse range of ecosystems for outdoor enthusiasts to explore. The park boasts several miles of hiking trails that wind through pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, and prairies, providing hikers with stunning views of the unique Florida landscape. For information about other beautiful hiking trails in Florida, check out 10 Of The Most Beautiful Hiking Trails In Florida As Of 2023 now!

Canopy Walkway

The highlight of your visit to Myakka River State Park is undoubtedly the Canopy Walkway. Suspended 25 feet above the ground, the walkway offers hikers a unique perspective of the park’s diverse ecosystem. As you make your way across the walkway, be prepared to be amazed by the abundance of wildlife and lush vegetation that thrive in the treetops. The experience of walking through the canopy is truly exhilarating and provides a one-of-a-kind adventure for nature enthusiasts.

Birdwatching Hotspot

Park visitors flock to Myakka River State Park for its reputation as a birdwatching hotspot. With over 85 species of birds calling the park home, it is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife photographers. The expansive wetlands and open prairies provide the perfect habitat for a variety of bird species, making it an unparalleled destination for birdwatching enthusiasts. Park rangers also offer guided birdwatching tours for those looking to gain a deeper understanding of the park’s avian inhabitants.

Birdwatching in Myakka River State Park offers the opportunity to spot native species such as the Florida scrub jay, roseate spoonbill, and sandhill crane. The diverse bird population and picturesque landscapes make it an ideal location for birdwatching and nature photography enthusiasts alike.

Timucuan Preserve

Your exploration of the best hikes in Florida would be incomplete without a visit to the Timucuan Preserve. This beautiful natural area is located in Jacksonville and offers a variety of hiking trails that showcase the diverse landscapes and rich history of the region.

Coastal Beauty

One of the highlights of the Timucuan Preserve is its stunning coastal beauty. As you hike through the trails, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the salt marshes that line the coast. The sound of the waves crashing against the shore and the fresh ocean breeze create a tranquil and awe-inspiring atmosphere that you won’t soon forget.

Aside from the coastal views, you’ll also encounter wildlife such as birds, turtles, and dolphins, further enhancing the natural beauty of the preserve. The scenic overlooks provide the perfect vantage points for taking in the expansive coastal landscape.

Historic Sites

Preserve your hike in the Timucuan Preserve by exploring its historic sites. The area is home to important archaeological sites and remnants of the Timucua Native American civilization, offering a fascinating glimpse into the region’s past. You can visit the Fort Caroline National Memorial, a replica of the original French fort that was established in the area in the 16th century.

Timucuan Preserve is also home to the Kingsley Plantation, which preserves the history of slavery and the plantation era in Florida. This historic site provides an educational and eye-opening experience for visitors, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of the area’s complex history.

For those interested in historical and cultural exploration, the Timucuan Preserve offers a unique opportunity to connect with the past while enjoying the natural beauty of the landscape. Whether you’re a history buff or nature enthusiast, a visit to this preserve is a must-do on your Florida hiking adventure.

Caladesi Island State Park

Now, let’s turn our attention to a hidden gem in Florida – Caladesi Island State Park. This pristine island is only accessible by boat or ferry, making it a secluded paradise for nature lovers and hikers alike. With its untouched beauty and diverse wildlife, Caladesi Island offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Florida.

Island Trails

For hikers seeking a unique and challenging experience, Caladesi Island boasts a network of scenic trails that wind through mangroves, coastal forests, and sand dunes. These unspoiled trails provide hikers with an up-close view of the island’s diverse ecosystem, and the opportunity to spot native wildlife such as osprey, herons, and even the occasional dolphin in the surrounding waters.

For those looking for a more leisurely stroll, the park also offers shorter trails that lead to breathtaking overlooks of the Gulf of Mexico, allowing hikers to take in the stunning views and tranquil surroundings.

Pristine Beaches

Pristine doesn’t even begin to describe the stunning beaches that line the shores of Caladesi Island. With its powdery white sands and crystal-clear waters, the beaches here are nothing short of heavenly. Hikers can take a refreshing dip in the ocean after their hike, or simply relax and bask in the serene beauty of this remote tropical paradise.

Island beaches are a perfect spot to recharge and take in the beauty of the untouched natural environment. Visitors can also snorkel along the shore to discover an underwater world teeming with colorful marine life, adding an extra element of adventure to their hiking experience.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Keep your hiking boots ready for an adventure at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. This vast park offers a variety of trails that wind through some of Florida’s most stunning landscapes, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and avid hikers.

Diverse Habitats

Diverse habitats await you at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, from dense pine forests to scenic riverbanks. As you explore the trails, you’ll encounter a range of ecosystems, each teeming with unique flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for colorful wildflowers, towering trees, and the occasional glimpse of native wildlife. The diverse landscapes make each hike a new and captivating experience.

Hobe Mountain

On your journey through Jonathan Dickinson State Park, be sure to make the ascent to Hobe Mountain, the highest natural point in South Florida. The summit offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area, rewarding hikers with a sense of accomplishment and a stunning vista. A hike to Hobe Mountain is a must-do for visitors seeking a challenging yet rewarding outdoor experience.

A hike to Hobe Mountain is a must for those seeking a challenging yet rewarding outdoor experience. The trail to the summit is well-marked and offers a moderate level of difficulty, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. At the top, you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the park and the shimmering waters of the Loxahatchee River. Be sure to bring plenty of water, especially on hot days, and wear appropriate footwear for the rocky terrain.

Apalachicola National Forest

Now, let’s talk about the Apalachicola National Forest, an expansive natural treasure located in the Florida Panhandle. This forest is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of hiking trails, unique ecosystems, and breathtaking scenic views.

Pine Savannas

The Pine Savannas within the Apalachicola National Forest are a fascinating feature that draws hikers seeking unique landscapes. The open canopy of longleaf pines allows for an abundance of sunlight to reach the forest floor, creating a picturesque setting with a rich diversity of plant life. The gentle slopes and well-maintained trails make it an ideal area for hikers of all skill levels to explore.

Remote Wilderness

On the other hand, the Remote Wilderness areas of the Apalachicola National Forest offer a more rugged and challenging experience for adventurous hikers. Here, you can immerse yourself in the raw, untamed beauty of the forest, with opportunities to encounter diverse wildlife and experience the thrill of truly getting off the beaten path.

It is important to note that venturing into the Remote Wilderness areas requires careful preparation and attention to safety, as these remote locations can pose potential risks. Hikers must be mindful of their surroundings, carry essential gear, and be aware of weather conditions, as the terrain can be unpredictable.

By exploring the Pine Savannas and Remote Wilderness of the Apalachicola National Forest, hikers can experience the diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife that make this forest a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts. However, it is crucial to approach these areas with caution and respect for nature, ensuring a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

Walking on Sunshine – The 10 Best Hikes in Florida

Ultimately, Florida offers some of the most stunning and diverse hiking opportunities in the country. From the wetlands and swamps of the Everglades to the rolling dunes and crystal-clear waters of the Panhandle, the state’s trails showcase the unique beauty of the Sunshine State. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for a challenge or a casual stroller seeking a scenic stroll, Florida’s hiking options cater to a wide range of skill levels and interests. As always, it’s important to be mindful of the environment and wildlife, and to follow the Leave No Trace principles when exploring these natural wonders. So go on, lace up your boots and discover the incredible landscapes waiting for you on the best hikes in Florida.


Q: What is Walking on Sunshine – The 10 Best Hikes in Florida?

A: Walking on Sunshine is a guidebook that highlights the 10 best hiking trails in Florida, providing detailed information to help outdoor enthusiasts choose their next hiking adventure.

Q: What are the criteria for selecting the best hikes in Florida?

A: The criteria include scenic views, trail difficulty, accessibility, and unique natural features. Each hike is chosen based on its overall experience and the variety it offers to hikers.

Q: Are the hikes suitable for all experience levels?

A: Yes, the guidebook includes hikes that cater to all experience levels, from beginners to advanced hikers. Each trail description includes information about the difficulty level and any special considerations.

Q: Are the trails family-friendly?

A: Yes, the guidebook includes trails that are suitable for families with children. It provides information on kid-friendly features and facilities available along the trails.

Q: Do the trails have designated camping areas?

A: Some of the hikes included in the guidebook have designated camping areas, while others may have nearby camping options. Each trail description includes information on camping facilities and regulations.

Q: Are pets allowed on the hiking trails?

A: Most of the trails mentioned in the guidebook are pet-friendly, but it’s important to check the specific trail regulations for pet policies. The guidebook provides information on pet-friendly trails and any restrictions that may apply.

Q: Where can I purchase “Walking on Sunshine – The 10 Best Hikes in Florida”?

A: The guidebook is available for purchase at major bookstores, online retailers, and outdoor recreation stores. It can also be purchased directly from the publisher’s website.


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