Hiking the Florida National Scenic Trail

The Florida National Scenic Trail is a national treasure of 1,300 miles of federally designated recreation trail that meanders across Florida right near the St. Johns River. Even better? This year marks the 50th anniversary of this beautiful scenic trail. To celebrate, we have the tips you need to enjoy the peaceful and scenic Florida National Scenic Trail.

hiking the Florida National Scenic Trail
The Florida National Scenic Trail is approximately 1,300 miles long and marks its 50th anniversary this week.

Plot the Distance of Your Hike

In total, the Florida National Scenic Trail is approximately 1,300 miles long, with most hikers starting in the southern tip of the state and working their way north to Pensacola. That entire hike requires two to three months of hiking.

We suggest tackling the central portion of the trail near Astor, FL and the St. Johns River, where you can search for birds, Florida black bears and enjoy the serenity of the river and other wildlife in the Ocala National Forest.

Here is a map of the Florida National Scenic Trail that allows you to plot and print the portion of the trail you want to hike.

The Florida National Scenic Trail is Different

Is this your first time hiking in Florida? Hiking in the Sunshine State is different than anywhere else. There may not be a lot of elevation, but there are other obstacles hikers must overcome. Follow these Florida hiking tips:

  • It’s hot in the summer so plan your hiking trips in the early morning hours before noon.
  • Carry enough water to stay hydrated.
  • Carry a GPS or compass to stay on track.
  • Take a cell phone.
  • Wear light and breathable clothing.
hiking the Florida National Scenic Trail
Hiking in the Sunshine State is different than anywhere else. Follow our hiking tips.

Backpack Checklist

What does a hiker need for a hiking trip on the Florida National Scenic Trail? Here’s your Florida backpack packing checklist:

  • Rain poncho
  • Hat
  • Bandanas
  • Sunglasses
  • Bug spray
  • A first aid kit

Are you seeking to camp overnight? Use this list of designated campsites and trailhead locations.

Wear Boots

We know it’s Florida and you feel like you should wear sandals everywhere. But stick to sandals on the beach and hiking boots on the trails. Florida is damp and it’s easy to get your feet wet. A good pair of hiking boots will keep your feet dry. Take a couple extra pairs of socks just in case

Visit the Ocala National Forest

The Ocala National Forest is a must stop when hiking the central portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail. It’s 607 square miles of preserved nationally protected forest full of 600 lakes, natural springs and rivers. There are also parks to enjoy freshwater clear springs, campgrounds and canoeing opportunities.

Read our blog on watching wildlife in the Ocala National Forest for great wildlife viewing opportunities.

hiking the trail
Enjoy the scenery and the St. Johns River on your next Florida hike.

Be Cautious Around Wildlife

Florida black bears, snakes and alligators are common sights along the Florida National Scenic Trail. Enjoy the wildlife on your hike but stay away from these creatures when hiking the trail. Check out this guide to identify Florida poisonous snakes.

Enjoy the St. Johns River

The St. Johns River alone is a fantastic reason to visit the Florida National Scenic Trail near Astor. It’s a great place to rent a boat and enjoy fishing and boating at Castaways on the River. We also offer cottages and motel rooms near a marina on the St. Johns River. Call Castaways on the River at (9352) 759-3442 to plan your summer hiking and river trip today!

Castaways Rent a Boat pin