Want to experience the splendor of greenways and trails?
Florida's your place. Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to step off of the beaten path and onto one of the Sunshine State's more than 8,000 miles of public land trails and 4,000 miles of paddling trails.
To highlight these recreational treasures, here's a bucket list of 10 trails Floridians and visitors alike must experience.
Crossing central Florida from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River, this 110-mile corridor offers a variety of trails and recreation areas. Home to the Florida Horse Park, one of the top equestrian destinations in the country, the Cross Florida Greenway offers an easily accessible and extraordinary opportunity to explore Florida's wild beauty on horseback.
Off-road biking enthusiasts can enjoy what the International Mountain Biking Association designated as an epic ride on the Greenway's Santos trail network.
Hikers can appreciate the gateway the Cross Florida Greenway offers to the Florida Trail, one of only eight congressionally designated National Scenic Trails in the United States.
The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is a developing, paved, multi-use trail that allows visitors to intimately experience the colorful Keys communities and take in views of shimmering Gulf and ocean waters.
The scenic corridor extending from Key Largo to Key West connects the islands, creating an alternative transportation route and recreational pathway for hiking, running, bicycling, in-line skating, sightseeing, fishing, and kayaking. Twenty-three historic Flagler Railroad bridges form a central component of this multi-use trail, which now features approximately 70 paved miles in segments along its 106-mile corridor.
The swift and twisting Loxahatchee River is worthy of its status as Florida’s first National Wild and Scenic River. Trapper Nelson’s cabin is a point of interest near the trail’s terminus in Jonathan Dickinson State Park near Stuart. The coffee-colored stream meanders through an unspoiled subtropical river swamp where bald cypress, pond apple orchids and ferns line the shores. The 8.5-mile paddling trail makes for an ideal day-long adventure for intermediate or experienced paddlers.
Adventure awaits visitors on this history-rich trail. Providing an excellent opportunity to ride off the beaten path, this 32-mile trail consists of two primary alignments built along former rail lines that meet at Wilcox Junction. A historic train trestle carries the trail across the Suwannee River near Old Town. Trail users can cool off in 72-degree water in nearby Fanning Springs State Park or watch for more wildlife at Andrews Wildlife Management Area.
The State's first rail-trail begins in Florida's capital city, running for 16 miles through part of the Apalachicola National Forest to reach the coastal community of St. Marks. Trail users can enjoy fresh Florida seafood and fishing in the city of St. Marks and learn about the history of the area at the San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park.
Beginning just north of Kelly Park in Apopka, Rock Springs Run winds its way swiftly downstream for several miles to join the spring run flowing out of Wekiwa Springs State Park. Traveling through sand pine, scrub pine, flatwoods, hammocks and swamps, paddlers can see a variety of wildlife, including river otters. Numerous islands, tributaries and lagoons provide opportunities for side trips and camping.
The 170-mile Suwannee Wilderness Trail provides a kaleidoscope of wilderness and historical opportunities. Visitors can travel outward from the river to recreational hubs, trails, parks, museums, cultural sites and other nature and heritage attractions in adjacent cities, towns and rural landscapes throughout north Florida's Suwannee River Valley. The river boasts more than 70 fresh water springs.
Running from Citrus Springs in Citrus County to Trilby in Pasco County, this trail is presently the longest paved rail-trail in Florida. The 46-mile trail corridor runs through small towns, ranches and the Withlacoochee State Forest, close to the Withlacoochee River. Springtime riders will enjoy an abundance of beautiful wildflowers. The trail will eventually join other trails in the region, becoming part of the Central Florida Loop. The trail's annual bike ride, the first Sunday of October, attracts 1 000-1 500 cyclists of all ages and skill level, making it one of the largest one-day bike rides in the Southeast.
Hikers, cyclists and equestrians who visit the state's westernmost rail-trail, originating in the quaint, historic town of Milton, can explore the beautiful countryside of Florida's panhandle with a trail that crosses several creeks and features an array of native wildflowers. Among swamps, towering pine trees and pastureland, this paved trail provides a serene tour through rural Florida. At its northern terminus, this 8-mile paved trail joins the 1.5-mile Military Heritage Trail, which is managed by the U.S. Navy.
This paved and off-road trail, located atop the Herbert Hoover Dike, circles Lake Okeechobee, the second largest freshwater lake in the United States. The trail takes users through agricultural communities while offering endless fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities including herons, egrets, and various wintering waterfowl. For nearly 20 years, this trail has been the site of a week-long 110-mile hike that takes place over Thanksgiving week and is hosted by the Florida Trail Association.
For more Florida outdoor fun and adventure, check out:
Tips for Biking the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
5 Florida Bike Trails You Should Try
Rails to Trails, for Smooth Florida Biking and Hiking
Punta Gorda Bike Trails: A Claim to Cycling Fame, updated
Accessible Travel: Experience Natural Florida on the Wekiva Trail
Bike the Foster's Hammock Loop in White Springs
Florida Bicycling Must-Sees
Florida's Eden: the Sante Fe, Ichetucknee and Suwanee River Region
On a Roll: Family Bike Trip in Daytona Beach Shores
Madison, Florida: A Stop on the Southern Tier Bike Route
Hidden Bike Trails in Florida
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