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

    - Contributed Photo

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

    - Fun2Travel33

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