Whether you are a first-timer or a hardcore outdoor enthusiast, group hikes are a great way to explore the Sunshine State. Have you ever hiked solo on a linear trail section and wished there was a vehicle waiting at the end? In a group hike, that's not a problem. Vehicle shuttles and being around like-minded people are just a couple of reasons why to take part in a group hike - but how do you find the hikes?
I recently got a question on the Outdoors and Nature Facebook page about finding group hikes in Florida, so I thought I'd list a few hiking resources that I use often. Florida has a very active online hiking community - use these sites to find group events all around the state.
Meetup.com - tons and tons of hiking groups are on Meetup. Visit hiking.meetup.com, key in your zip code and radius to find hiking, backpacking, and camping groups in your area. Meetup is terrific for finding all kinds of outdoor groups - use it for biking, geocaching, and paddling as well.
MyFloridaHikes - Florida author and hiking guru Sandra Friend operates www.myfloridahikes.com, a great resource for hikers of all skill levels. MyFloridaHikes is a very active site, filled with trail reports, photos, videos, tips and tricks - if it has to do with Florida hiking, you'll find it here.
Florida Trail Association Website - Look at the bottom of the main page of the official page for the Florida National Scenic Trail, you'll see a list of upcoming events. Also, use the navigation menu at the top to find local Florida Trail Association chapters - group hikes can also be listed on the individual chapter pages, and some chapters use meetup.com to schedule hikes and other activities. Use www.floridatrail.org for your resource for information (closures, reroutes, etc.) when it comes to FTA managed trails.
Florida State Parks Website - Under the "Things to do" menu at the top, click on "events" - you'll get a list of everything that's going on in state parks. There are plenty of parks that put on regular hikes (the Full Moon Hikes at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park are awesome, by the way) with most of them being led by a ranger. Visit www.floridastateparks.org and find a group hike near you.
Well, that should keep everyone busy for a while! If you have a favorite resource, feel free to share it in the comments here or over on the Outdoor and Nature Facebook page. See you on the trail!