How Do You Hike in Florida?

How Do You Hike in Florida?

My husband Bob and I took a road trip through Washington and Oregon in August 2021 and spent a lot of time hiking.

At one of our stops, I asked the hotel manager, “Can you recommend a nice hike for us? We’re from Florida, so it needs to be one we can handle.”

The manager looked confused. “You hike in Florida?”

“Yeah, I do a good bit of it.”

“But how do you hike in Florida?”

Now, I felt confused and found his question odd. “Well, I take a step with one foot and then the next foot and the next.”

“That’s not hiking.”

Oh, contraire. Just because we must find an overpass or bridge to experience an incline in Central Florida doesn’t mean we don’t hike.

Mr. Webster agrees and defines a hike as “a long walk especially for pleasure or exercise.”

Yesterday, I spent four delightful hours hiking in the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary in Titusville, a few miles west of the Kennedy Space Center.

We may not have elevation in Central Florida, but that doesn’t mean hiking here is without its challenges. First, we have roots from ancient oaks and massive pine trees. Remembering to scan the trail ahead and pick up my feet is a must.

Then, the trails have saw palmettos. One brush against them can draw blood.

Banana spiders the size of my hand love to weave significant webs across trails. Tip: if hiking with a group, don’t be the first one in line.

Mosquitos, ticks, and chiggers love to come home with you, so bug spray is a must.

Some hikes feature snakes of many varieties, wild hogs, and alligators sunning themselves near the water’s edge. They don’t usually bother us if we don’t bother them.

Then, sugar sand is everywhere in Florida, and when it’s deep, it makes progress slow. Plus, it ends up everywhere—in my shoes and socks, ears and mouth on a windy day.

Bike Week presents a challenge in getting home from a hike. The first week of March each year, some 300,000 to 400,000 bikers from across the country and their usually loud motorcycles descend on the coast. Last year, I came to a dead stop during Bike Week and asked the guy directing traffic what was going on. He told me the Cabbage Patch bar was having women’s coleslaw wrestling matches. Really?

So why, you ask, would someone ever want to hike in Central Florida?

Take yesterday as an example. It was in the upper seventies with a mixture of sun and clouds. I loved the soft feel of sand, soil, and leaves beneath my feet. I felt swaddled in silence. Sky blue lupines grew along the path into the woods.

I hiked under a thick canopy of oaks and pines, the air laced with the sweet smell of Confederate jasmine. Resurrection fern sprang to life after the previous night’s rain. A Southern black snake sunned himself nearby, and a large gopher tortoise came out of his underground burrow to say good morning.

I walked out of the woods spent, sweaty, and seeking a bottle of Advil. I had a marvelous day, and yes, you most definitely can hike in Central Florida.

Are you now, or have you been a hiker? If so, what do you like about hiking? What have been some of the joys and challenges on your hikes? If you’re not a hiker, why not? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Until next time, happy writing!

Note: All photos were taken by Patricia on Florida hikes, most of them on Sunday.

Also, if you know someone expecting a new bundle of joy, check out Baby’s Five-Year Journal, which we just received. With a beautiful cover of baby animals and fourteen pages explaining five-year journaling and how to do it successfully, Baby’s Five-Year Journal is the perfect gift for new moms and dads.

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Idalia
4 months ago

Oh! Loved your hike pictures. Patricia.

Idalia
4 months ago

Love your hiking VLOG, Patricia. Yes. Florida offers many hiking opportunities many Floridians have not explored. Our own grandson selected several primitive hiking places in Florida to train several years for his final goal of surviving the hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro which was accomplished January 2024. My husband and I have walked several small trails in Florida in our almost eight year exploration of the state. Thanks for highlighting that Florida has its gems for hiking for the outsiders. Hiking is an exercise in itself needed for body strengthening wherever you may be. And coming close to natural and wildlife… Read more »

Nancy
Nancy
4 months ago

I’ve hiked for over 20 years, and it is good therapy for me because I forget about all of my problems as I’m walking down the trail, smelling the pine and oak trees, looking out for wildlife and birds and enjoying conversations with my fellow hikers.

Darlene Lamb
Darlene Lamb
4 months ago

What a descriptive hike you took me on Patricia. Most of those critters would make this hike kind of scary for me. I don’t hike anymore so going on this (safe) hike with you was a pleasure. I saw, smelled and touched everything. Thank you

Jack
Jack
4 months ago

The Enchanted Forest IS a good place to hike in Central Florida. If the weather conditions are just right – hot, humid, miserable – it is also a great place to spot many kinds of fungi that pop out under those conditions. Not bad for bird watching, either.

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