Myakka River State Park is one of the largest state parks in Florida. Protecting a large section of the Myakka River watershed, including two lakes, this massive park has all kinds of outdoor recreational opportunities. Most importantly for us hikers is a 39-mile hiking only loop trail that is located in the center of the park. The park also has many miles of dirt roads suitable for both hiking and biking, and even a few nature trails, like this one. This hike occurred on July 19th, 2015. My plan was to hike the short nature trail clockwise. I would then move on to hiking half of the park's main hiking loop, although that hike will be described in a separate post.
Close to the large Tampa metro area, this hike along the Little Manatee River showcases the beauty of Florida's rivers. Despite how short this hike is, you'll get to see a variety of ecosystems, including miniature palmetto prairies, swamps, and a river habitat. If you're lucky, you may spot an alligator in or near the river - although maybe that's not something you exactly want to wish for. This hike occurred on Wednesday, July 15th, 2015. My plan was to hike the main hiking loop in Little Manatee River State Park counter-clockwise. Along the way, I would also take the short spur trail to the primitive campsite.
One of the larger lakes in the vicinity of the small town of Lake Placid, Lake June-in-Winter is home to a relatively new state park. Located on the western shore of the lake, the small park has several short trails that showcase the beauty of Lake Wales Ridge, although the condition of the park leaves something to be desired. Lake Wales Ridge is a low ridge that stretches through central Florida. This hike occurred on Sunday, July 12th, 2015. My plan was to hike the main loop in the park that consists of the Bobcat Trail, Deer Trail, and Eagle Trail, and then, time-permitting, to hike the short Tomoka Run Nature Trail.
The Kissimmee River is one of the largest rivers in Florida. In its large floodplain lies the route of the Florida Trail. The section of the Florida Trail that continues southeast from US Route 98 is known as the Chandler Slough section. The piece that I did on this day was overgrown and sometimes underwater. I eventually had to revise my plans, as this is one of those Florida hikes that is best done during winter. This hike occurred on Sunday, July 12th, 2015. My plan was to hike the Florida Trail from the Micco Landing Trailhead on US 98 to the Chandler Slough West Trailhead that is also on US 98. Unfortunately, I only did a short part of my plan due to the poor conditions of the trail.
The Ocala National Forest is home to the endangered sand scrub pine habitat. In the Ocala is the largest unbroken tract of this habitat in the world. This long but beautiful hike on the Florida Trail showcases the beauty of the sand scrub pine habitat and the vast prairies that surround it. On this excursion, you will also see Hidden Pond, a small pond in the middle of the prairie land, and you will see the Long Cemetery, a small, old cemetery located on the historic Yearling Trail. This hike occurred on Sunday, July 5th, 2015. My plan was to hike the Florida Trail from the trailhead on Florida State Route 40 to the junction with the Yearling Trail 10 miles later. From there, I would take the Yearling Trail to the Long Cemetery. I would return the same way.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 468.7 Miles