With the start of the new fall season, comes crisper weather and bluer skies in Florida. Although the leaves won’t change as drastically as those northern states (and by northern, we Floridians mean Georgia and above), this time of year is reminiscent of Thanksgiving, pumpkins, cider and, of course, the great outdoors.
One great way to get in touch with a nature-loving, tree-hugging, leaf-crunching side is taking advantage of the hiking trails that vein out throughout the Florida landscape.
Below I describe four different trails from 4 different regions in the state below. These areas include Northwest, Northeast, Central and South Florida, so your neck of the woods won’t be left un-explored!
Northwest: Enjoy a serene hike through a swampland on higher ground where one doesn’t need to worry about getting their boots wet and soggy. Apalachicola National Forest is just a short drive from the capitol in Tallahassee and entrance into this park is free! The 1.2 mile loop is known as the Camel Lake Loop despite the “Camel Lake” being more a pond.
Northeast: Grab your furry friend and hit the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail in Sweetwater Preserve because this hiking adventure permits dogs! Just on the northern edge of Payne’s Prairie, a location of historic cattle drives across Florida, this trail is 2 miles long and is also great for novice to intermediate mountain bikers. Check out this trail map for more info!
Central: If you ever find yourself in Seminole County packing a pair of hiking boots, be sure to stop by Big Tree Park. The area is iconic to a 129 foot cypress tree dubbed fondly as, “The Senator,” which is among one of the oldest in the U.S. Unfortunately, the natural giant was cut short during a 1925 hurricane but the park has been reopened and another tree planted in memory of this beautiful giant’s stature. Although this trail is short at .3 miles, it is an emerald example of Central Florida’s natural beauty.
South: If you are ever down in Key Biscayne with a passion for salty sea air and a brisk hike with a lighthouse view, check out Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. The 1.5 mile hiking trail offers a unique view of the funky, above-water shack of Stiltsville. On the way to the Cape Florida Lighthouse and the marina, several nature areas bisect the trail.
As you enjoy hot apple pies with melting vanilla ice cream, football rivalries, warm hues of orange and gold, remember a great way to stay active during this beautiful season is to enjoy some swamp-side, beachside and naturally Florida trails.