Florida Trail Tips and Safety

    Follow these guidelines to make your trail trips fun and safe.

    Although some trails are designated for a single use, many trails are shared.  Because of the diversity of trails and the people who use them, it is important that visitors follow basic guidelines to ensure a safe, pleasant experience for all trail users.  Here are some tips to enhance the safety of your adventure and lighten your impact on Florida's natural environment. 

    For All Trail Users...

    • Before you leave, make sure a responsible person knows your plans—where you will be and when you expect to return.       
    • Carry identification that includes name, phone number, pertinent medical information, and emergency contact.
    • Carry coins for phone calls, or take a mobile phone.
    • Check the weather forecast for your destination. Pack clothing, equipment and supplies accordingly.
    • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.  Obey all trail-use rules posted at trailheads.
    • Whenever possible, travel with a buddy.
    • Wear the appropriate safety gear.
    • Make adequate provisions for water.  Carry water and emergency supplies even on short trips.
    • Stay on designated trails.
    • Be alert for natural hazards such as stinging insects, thorny vines, poison ivy, and overhanging limbs.
    • Wear fluorescent orange vests, hats, or clothing when traveling during hunting season. Respect the rights of hunters when you encounter them.
    • Please leave plants and animals undisturbed.
    • Pack out all trash that you bring to the area.
    • Do not leave valuable items visible in your vehicle when parked at a trailhead. Store valuables in the trunk or other secure location while you are on the trail.

    For Hikers...

    • When approached from behind by others traveling faster than yourself, step aside and let them pass.
    • If you are in a group, do not block the trail to other users.
    • When approaching a horse from any direction, always stop and speak to the rider in a gentle voice (Horses have great peripheral vision, but they do not recognize people with packs as human. Speaking lets the horse know you are a human, and then they don’t get spooked as easily).

    For Equestrians...

    • Travel at a safe speed.  Approach each turn as if someone were around the turn.
    • Let users know when it is safe to pass your horse.
    • If a trail is muddy, the weight of a horse can damage it.  Attempt to use an alternate trail if one is available

    For Bicyclists/Mountain Bikers...

    • In Florida, bicyclists under age 16 must wear a helmet.
    • Yield right-of-way to both hikers and equestrians.
    • Be visible.
    • Follow the same traffic laws as drivers when on paved trails and when on the road. Stay to the right unless you are passing.
    • Give verbal warning and use caution when overtaking other trail users.
    • Travel at a safe speed. Approach each turn as if someone were around the turn.
    • When approaching a horse any direction, always stop and speak to the rider in a gentle voice. (Horses have great peripheral vision, but they don’t recognize people with packs and people on bikes as human. Speaking lets the horse know you are a human, and then they don’t get spooked as easily.)
    • When approaching an oncoming horse, stop and pull off to the downhill side of the trail to let the horse pass.

    For Paddlers...

    • Know water conditions. Be aware of water levels, tides and current.
    • Florida law requires a readily accessible and wearable Coast Guard approved personal flotation (PFD) device for each occupant. Children under age 6 must wear PFDs.
    • Florida law requires a sound-producing device, such as a whistle be aboard.
    • Place food and gear in watertight containers, and tie all loose items into the boat.
    • Watch for motorboats. Stay to the right and turn the bow into the wake.
    • Allow a minimum of 2 miles per hour paddling time under normal conditions.
       
    Take your bike on Florida's scenic paths that will take you to diverse environments around the state.

    Take your bike on Florida's scenic paths that will take you to diverse environments around the state.

    Contributed Photo

    The plant life in Florida is just as spectacular as the beaches and theme parks.

    The plant life in Florida is just as spectacular as the beaches and theme parks.

    Fun2Travel33

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