Just so you know, I've been saving this post for when things got a little cooler outside. Last night the weather was absolutely wonderful, and this morning I've seen more people moving about on the local trails here in Inverness than I've seen in a good while. Officially, it's been fall for a couple of weeks, but finally it feels like it.
Outdoorsy folks in Florida kind of go into a "hibernation" phase in the summer, with most days spent bobbing around neck-deep in a spring. Well, that's my routine, anyway. My kayak trips have mostly consisted short runs out to Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River. I'm not dissing Florida summers – they're terrific, of course – but I'm ready to put in some serious trail time.
October is one of the best months of the year to be outside in Florida. During the mornings and early evenings things are nice and cool, with warm temperatures during the day. This makes for great trips to trails, while still being plenty warm enough for a few hours at the beach. Oh, and the humidity level goes way down, too – and all of us love when that happens, right?
For bonus points, October is also Greenways and Trails Month. Count on there to be lots and lots of events, activities and festivals all over the state. Here's a PDF calendar of things arranged by date and region, and you can find more cool stuff at www.floridastateparks.org.
Let's get to the good part, shall we? Here are some activities and places to add to your Florida fall bucket list:
Go hiking. Yep, we've got great hiking trails. Go ahead and forget about all of Florida being flat, too – you'll find several awesome loop trails that will work those quads. Spend a few days exploring the Citrus Hiking Trail (40-plus miles in stacked loops), the Florida National Scenic Trail along the Suwannee River, or take the Torreya Challenge at Torreya State Park in Bristol.
Watch wildlife. Florida is one of the top places in the country to watch wildlife. Here's an example – Florida Keys Hawkwatch volunteers just counted 658 Peregrine falcons at Curry Hammock State Park. That's possibly the highest number of that species counted in a single day anywhere in the world. All over the state folks are having incredible wildlife days. I'd recommend taking a look at the Great Florida Birding Trail website and finding a location near you. Unplug the Xbox and get those kids outside, too.
Take a spin. I love paved bike trails, and Florida has some of the best ones found anywhere, with easy access from a lot of towns. Take a spin on the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, the Legacy Trail, or a section of the East Coast Greenway. Those are just a few of my favorites; find a trail near you by visiting the trails section of VISITFLORIDA.com.
Set up camp. Ahh, camping. For me, any form of camping that gets me close to the action is great. Tents, tarps, hammocks, and RVs are all fine by me. In fact, my wife and I are currently in the process of selling almost everything we have and hitting the road full time in our RV. From private campgrounds to spots in Florida state parks, we'll be doing it all. I'm especially fond of Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area in Flagler Beach, so that might be one of our first stops as we make our way around the state.
Dip a paddle. Kayaking is great any time of the year in Florida. I'd recommend a trip on the Peace River, the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, the south Withlacoochee River, or a paddle on Florida's Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. If you don't want to go at it alone or prefer paddling with a group, take a look at the lineup of trips with Paddle Florida. Good stuff.
What are some of your favorite places or activities for the fall? Stop by the VISIT FLORIDA Outdoors and Nature Facebook page and let me know. See you out there!