Nov 22, 2022 - Things to Do

The best winter hikes in Florida

Hikers cross a boardwalk through the Green Swamp.

Hikers cross a boardwalk in the Green Swamp. Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

The weather has finally turned, and while the rest of the country is stocking provisions and prepping for winter hibernation, we Floridians can finally go outside.

  • That means it's time to hike.

Why it matters: Our best weather is from now through March, and the benefits of hiking are enormous, so we're here to encourage you to plan your next trip.

The big picture: Florida has more than 1,300 recreational trails across the state for hiking, biking, riding horses, paddling or off-roading.

Plus: Here's a handy guide to some of our favorite Florida trails around Tampa Bay.

Ben here. I recommend a hike in the Green Swamp, which I did for the first time back in February, and is, as I've written, a 560,000-acre world of wonder in our backyard.

Details: If you're up for an overnighter, take the 22-mile hike along the Florida Trail through the Western Tract of the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve.

If you go: Drive two cars and park one at the small wilderness preserve lot off Highway 471, just north of the Withlacoochee River. Drive the other to the Richloam fire tower on Clay Sink Road.

  • From there, follow the orange blazes south through a mosaic of astonishing protected wetlands environments.
  • The trail is mostly dry, but there is one spot where you must wade across a wet slough.
  • Primitive campsites are available to hikers.

Bonus: We asked celebrated writer Jeff Klinkenberg, who has covered Florida for nearly 50 years, for his favorite hikes:

Of note: Hurricane Ian affected several land and water trails. Check with local trail managers before embarking.

  • For state park closures, check the Storm Updates page. For closures along the Florida National Scenic Trail, check here.

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