Live Wildly’s Favorite Hiking Trails
Hikes for every type of “wild”
From dark caves to rolling rapids, there’s no shortage of landscapes to explore throughout the Florida Wildlife Corridor. What better way to see and experience Florida’s diversity up-close than by walking on your own two feet?
We rounded up some of our favorite hiking trails for every “wild” Floridian — whether you’re looking for a peaceful oasis, a leisurely stroll through the woods, a family-fun activity or a magical, new adventure that tests your wild side!
1. Timucuan Trail, Ocala National Forest
Get a glimpse of the lush Ocala National Forest in this less than one-mile loop trail through Alexander Springs. A kid-friendly boardwalk meanders through a jungle-like forest, filled with hydric hammock, cabbage palms, cinnamon ferns, magnolia and more. Interpretive signs along the trail tell the stories of the people who used to live there. About halfway through, you’ll reach an observation deck with a view of Alexander Run, before the hike ends along the spring’s shoreline.
Live Wildly Tip: Looking to extend your wild times? You can swim, scuba dive or rent kayaks or canoes at the crystal-clear spring.
2. Dames Caves and Lizzie Heart Sink Loop Trail, Withlacoochee State Forest
Level: Moderate to difficult
Did you know there are caves in Florida? Shaded by towering pine, oak and cypress trees, this 4-mile loop trail takes you to several natural caves—some of the oldest geological formations in the state. This trail is also unique for Florida hiking due to its varying elevation, climbing over 250 feet. The hikes’ swamps, native flowers and sinkholes display the diversity of Florida’s landscape.
3. Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park
Wildlife lovers — this trail is for you! One of the most popular hikes in the swampy Everglades, this 0.8-mile trail often passes by alligators, turtles, fish and several different bird species. The paved boardwalk is wheelchair- and kid-friendly, but not shaded, so it’s best to visit early in the morning or during winter months.
4. Longleaf Pine Trail, Etoniah Creek State Forest
For a peaceful escape that’s a little less well-known, check out the 4.1-mile Longleaf Pine Trail. While you may not see another hiker on the trail, you will see a mix of habitats and wildlife. As you travel through prairies, swamps and shaded forests, look out for white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and gopher tortoises. At the end of the hike look out for the elusive Etoniah rosemary, an endangered plant only found in Florida.
5. Bolens Bluff Trail, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Cue up your “Sound of Music” soundtrack for this hike. The 2.7-mile loop trail travels through ancient oak trees toward a vast view of the prairie covered in purple pickerelweed. During dry seasons, you can walk into the middle of the expanse, and may see bison, wild horses and alligators—but no matter how wild you are, make sure to stay at least 20 feet away!
6. Juniper Creek, Blackwater River State Forest
This otherworldly hike passes below sixty-five-foot orange clay bluffs that eclipse the trail along the creek. The 7.3-mile journey takes you through a longleaf pine forest, titi swamps and, in March and April, bursting wildflowers. Plus, feel free to bring your pup along as the trail welcomes dogs.
Live Wildly Tip: Down-and-back, the hike extends more than 13 miles. Plan to take several hours to complete your adventure and bring lots of water, snacks, and bug spray!
7. Florida Trail, Rice Creek Trail
Level: Easy to moderate
An easy hike with lots of scenery = the perfect day hike. The 2-hour hike takes you through cypress forests, wetlands and creeks, with possible visits from deer, alligators and birds. This 5-mile loop trail is also home to the seventh largest cypress tree in the state.
Live Wildly Fact: Did you know Live Wildly partners with the Florida Trail Association to help raise awareness of the Trail’s expansive trails, views and wildlife? Check them out here!
8. Big Shoals Trail, Big Shoals State Park
Level: Easy to moderate
For the adventurous hiker, this 2.2-mile trail takes you to the only Class III rapids in Florida. The trail starts near the Suwannee River, leading you through hickories, laurel oaks and saw palmettos to the historic remains of Godwin Bridge. Toward the end of the hike, an overlook gives you a vast view of the rumbling rapids.
9. Shark Valley Tram Trail, Everglades National Park
Despite its name, don’t expect to see sharks on this trail—although, you may see some gators! The 15-mile paved loop trail is perfect for bikers, runners or ambitious walkers who want to experience the Everglades’ freshwater marshes and wildlife up-close. The trail takes you to a 45-foot observation tower with panoramic views of the scenic park.
Live Wildly Tip: Try to visit during the winter months and early in the day as there is no shade along the trail. Wear a hat and lots of sunscreen, too!
10. Florida Trail, Sopchoppy River, Apalachicola National Forest
Level: Moderate to difficult
Known as one of the most scenic hikes on the Florida Trail, the 4.1-mile out-and-back route gives you the best walking views of the Sopchoppy River. You’ll see cypress and pine flatwoods, plus colorful azaleas in the springtime. Prepare for challenging climbs and varying elevation throughout the hike. You won’t likely see many others on this trail, so bring your dog along if you like having company!
Live Wildly Tip: This trail can be muddy and buggy — bring lots of bug spray, wear long pants and avoid the hike after rain or storms.
Did you hike any of these trails, or have a favorite trail we didn’t include? Let us know on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @LiveWildlyFL!