Do you love exploring the diverse, unique natural beauty that you can only find in Florida? This is the perfect time of year to plan your next hiking trip on the Florida Trail, which stretches for more than 1,500 miles from the Gulf Islands National Seashore to the Big Cypress National Preserve. The Northern Region of the trail is the perfect place to start your next adventure. We've got all the exciting details on what you'll find on the Northern Region of the Florida Trail.
Northern Region Overview
The Northern Region of the Florida Trail features something for every interest, from sprawling, gorgeous natural forests to trails that will take you through the sites of historic battlefields. Before you head out on your trip, be sure to check out the Trail Safety guide, which provides plenty of helpful tips that will help you enjoy your experience and practice good safety habits while you explore the Florida Trail.
Lake Butler Forest
Take a trip southwest from Jacksonville to link up with the Lake Butler Forest portion of the Florida Trail, which runs for 23 miles from the City of Lake Butler to the historic Olustee Battlefield. The forests here feature a mix of old hardwood and planted pines, with beautiful natural vistas throughout.
Just a short drive from Gainesville, you will find the Camp Blanding section of the trail, which features some of the most diverse terrain that the Florida Trail has to offer. This part of the trail stretches for nearly 36 miles, featuring sandy hills, forests, lakes, and even desert-like terrain. Take a break along the beautiful waterfront areas, navigate your way through dense forests, and spot various local wildlife throughout your exploration. If you're hungry for more hiking, this trail also connects with the Palatka Lake Butler State Trail.
Osceola National Forest
On the northernmost section of the Florida Trail's Northern Region, you will find the Osceola National Forest trail, which runs for 24.2 miles through old-growth forests before wrapping up along quiet country back roads. If you love hiking through thick, beautiful, ancient forests, then this part of the trail should be near the top of your destination list. After you exit the forest, you will travel toward the scenic Suwanee River before heading into the town of White Springs, where you can enjoy a rest and resupply.
Rice Creek/Etoniah/Gold Head
The Rice Creek/Etoniah/Gold Head portion of the trail, just north of Ocala, will take you on a journey that lasts just over 34 miles and features more elevation than other parts of the Florida Trail. There are multiple bluffs that provide incredible views of the floodplains, forests, creeks, and swamps below. This part of the trail features ancient cypress trees, along with a variety of Appalachian trees that you won't find in other parts of Florida. Stop for a picnic in the designated picnic areas along Little Lake Johnson, then keep traveling through Gold Head Branch State Park, which features its own scenic, three-mile-long trail.
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