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.
R/T Length of Trail: 1.4 Miles
Duration of Hike: 1:00
Type of Hike: Out and back
Difficulty Rating: 3 out of 10
Total Elevation Gain: Minimal
Cons: Overgrown and wet trail
Points of Interest: None
Trail Blaze Color(s): Florida Trail - Orange
Best Season(s) to Hike: Winter
Beginning Point: Micco Landing Trailhead
Directions: From Basinger, FL: Follow US Route 98 West for about 2 miles. The parking area is on the right, accessed by a short dirt road. If you have reached a bridge across the Kissimmee River, you have driven too far.
Out of the hikes I did in Florida, this was probably the worst one. From the research I did, the Chandler Slough section of the Florida Trail sounded like a good hike through the the Kissimmee River floodplain with some interesting features. Apparently this hike is in better condition in winter, because the trail is maintained in winter and the floodplain is unlikely to be underwater. However, I doubt I will redo this one.
Even finding the start of this hike is a problem. The trail by the parking is NOT the trail described here. it is also the Florida Trail, but it is northbound, and it goes away from US 98. That section may be one I will do in the future, although I'm afraid it could very well be like the section south of US 98.To find the trail on the south side of the road, walk the dirt road you have just driven. Cross US 98, and then, pass around a metal gate almost directly across from the dirt road. Just past the dirt gate, there is a wooden post with a carved map of the Florida Trail north from US 98. There is also a post with orange Florida Trail blazes. The trail turns left, and right away, you are engulfed in knee-high or higher grass (at least in summer that's the case). It is not obvious that this is the trail- - watch for an orange blaze on a tree. Throughout this short hike, the trail generally stays in fields of tall grass. It occasionally dips into the forest along the edge of the fields. When the trail is in the fields, it is far from obvious, sometimes non-discernible. However, the posts with orange blazes are very frequent. They are a huge help in hiking this trail. 0.7 miles from the start, the trail makes a sharp left turn in the middle of a large field. Here, you enter a submerged area, or at least it was submerged when I was here. With the poor condition of the trail, I decided to not continue further. Instead, I decided to do a different nearby hike, so that the day wouldn't be completely wasted. Unfortunately, that hike turned out to be a disappointment, at least to some extent, too. You'll read more about it in the next blog post.
If you decide that you want to do the entire hike, it should be roughly 2.9 more miles to the Chandler Slough West Trailhead. However, I turned around and retraced my steps at the mentioned point, in order to make it in time to the hike I now planned to do.
Hike the whole Chandler Slough section of the Florida Trail - 7.4 Miles
0.0 - Micco Landing Trailhead
0.7 - Sharp left turn in trail, I turned around here due to poor condition of trail
1.4 - Micco Landing Trailhead
Late 2019/Early 2020
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Year 1: 540.0 Miles
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Year 3: 518.4 Miles
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Year 5: 250.2 Miles