Nov 17, 2021 - Things to Do
The best hikes around Tampa Bay
The Florida Trail near the Suwannee River. Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

Wednesday is National Hiking Day! To celebrate, we’ve pulled together a shortlist of hikes to stoke your passion for the outdoors.

Florida has thousands of miles of hiking trails, and the weather is finally cool, so use this as a starting point and get out there.

Easy

Weedon Island Preserve

  • 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg
  • Open daily, Weedon Island offers six trails along aquatic and upland ecosystems, through a 3,190-acre preserve that was occupied for thousands of years by Indigenous people. Free admission, donations accepted.

Lettuce Lake Conservation Park

  • 6920 East Fletcher Avenue, Tampa
  • Spot native plants, wading birds and alligators in the hardwood swamp forest along the paved and boardwalk trail system in north Tampa. One of the area’s most popular parks. Entry: $2 per vehicle.

Rothenbach Park Loop

  • 8650 Bee Ridge Rd, Sarasota
  • A 3.7 mile, lightly-trafficked loop trail, paved and partly shaded, near Sarasota that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. Free.
Challenging

Big Cypress Swamp

Ocala National Forest

  • There’s an abundance of trails through the 673-square-mile forest, including a 66-mile stretch of the Florida Trail with access points in the Salt Springs Recreation Area and the Juniper Springs Recreation Area.

Florida Trail at the Suwannee River

  • Big Shoals State Park to Winquepin St.
  • Florida is flat, right? You’ll change your tune hiking this 71-mile stretch of rugged, hilly terrain that follows the storied Suwannee River west tout of Big Shoals, past white lilies, wild azalea, sparkleberries, dogwood, redbud and those giant tupelo trees.

😲 Did you know? The Florida National Scenic Trail runs 1,500 miles, from the Big Cypress Swamp in South Florida to the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the Panhandle.

Go deeper: Check out "The Florida Trail," by our friend Sandra Fried, for more information on hiking the FT.

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