Florida Trail Tips and Safety

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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.


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