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Hiking through Florida is a perfect way to discover the unique terrain the state has to offer. Better yet, scientists have proven that nature does a body good, so why not grab a pair of sturdy boots and explore some new trails? Hit the reset button and be one with nature at one of these beautifully underrated hiking spots you’ll only find in the Sunshine State.
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Adventure-seekers, this tough trail is for you. Black Bear Wilderness Loop Trail in Sanford offers 7.1 miles through a series of historic levees out to the St. Johns River. As you explore, you will be perched up above the marshes, canals, and forests, and then taken down steep grades right down at their level. The narrow footpath trails are perfect for spotting wildlife, most commonly as you may have guessed, Florida black bears.
With an impressive 360,000 acres of hiking, the Ocala National Forest is considered one of the best hiking spots in Florida. The area is littered with pine forests, gum swamps, and cypress. Hikers will find plenty of opportunities to explore over 100 miles of natural habitats through the world’s largest scrub forest. Perfect for beginners and experts alike, a highlight of the Ocala National Forest is the crystal blue Juniper and Alexander Springs.
The Little Manatee River State Park is a diverse and scenic hike close to Tampa, running along five miles of The Little Manatee River, a designated “Outstanding Florida Water” region. The park is blessed with rare ecosystems including oak scrub, oxbow wetlands, and sand pine, a perfect getaway for nature lovers.
Considered a jewel of the rural area of Geneva, this area boasts scenic prairie ponds, pine Flatwoods, and two main trails for hikers. A great hike for beginners, this short 1.8-mile hike offers a lot for its small size. Hikers can soak in the beauty of Florida’s nature and enjoy a half-day of leisurely winding through a variety of forests and wetland habitats on gentle paths, perfect for a day out with the kids.
Featuring the largest whitewater rapids in Florida, Big Shoals State Park boasts unique 80-foot limestone bluffs over the Suwannee River. With 28 miles of wooded trails to explore, you can cross the river to find gorgeous views upon perches atop the bluffs. Here you can either appreciate the raging, Class III foamy waters from above or kayak down them if you’re looking to add more thrill to your hiking experience.
Truly a hiking area like no other, you can explore a group of interconnected trails surrounding an air-filled show cave in Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna. The trails system includes 7 trails that are surrounded by limestone bluffs above the Chipola River, wrapping around dynamic and colorful landscapes that will take your breath away. Come here to experience the only place in Florida where you can hike through a trail that intentionally goes through a Tunnel Cave.
A rugged trail skirting the banks of the Econlockhatchee River, a journey through the Little Big Econ Forest trail will test your running shoes with 10 miles of wilderness through more than 5,000 acres of cypress swamps. Fortunately, it’s a scenic trail with impressive views of tall bluffs, freshwater streams, and a variety of wildlife along the way to keep your attention.
Located on a barrier island on the Atlantic Coast, this Northeast Florida spot is a unique natural preserve great for hiking. Attracting beachgoers from nearby Jacksonville, this island offers two trails, one long and one short, perfect for any skill level to explore the gorgeous coastal habitats. Absorb the picturesque surroundings of the island as you stroll past salt-washed live oaks, ancient dunes, cedar trees, and exotic birds.
Perfect for hikers looking for a challenge, Rock Springs Run Hiking Trail in Sorrento is a 12.3-mile trail through 14,000 acres along the Wekiva River basin. The area feels so remote that most experts recommend bringing a compass. Your hard work comes with rewards, as you will be able to access an impressive panoramic landscape of pine flatwoods and scrub forest. Explore one of the two-loop trails and enjoy the feeling of peace and quiet as you cross marshy areas, makeshift bridges, and calming streams.
Lake Mills Park may be one of the shortest hikes on the list, but don’t dismiss it just yet. It is also one of the prettiest, with 0.8 miles of towering cypresses, palmetto and oaks, and an inviting campground with a pleasant lakefront backdrop. Bring the dogs to this family-friendly nature area for a day exploring the hardwood swamps on a series of charming boardwalks through this picturesque park.