Your dream is to hike the Appalachian Trail. But sadly, you don’t have the income or time to accomplish the 5-month journey. You probably think that as a Florida resident, your backpacking opportunities are limited. Fear not, as our state has over 1000 miles of trail — known as the Florida Trail.
However, even this trail can take around 2 to 3 months to hike. If you only have a week to hike, you may be out of luck.
For those with limited time, another great, and shorter, hike exists that gives you a complete sampling of exactly what central Florida has to offer. I’m talking about the Ocean-Lake Trail – a 63 mile trail that stretches from the shallows of Lake Okeechobee to the beaches of the Atlantic.
The trail is well -marked, and maintained in part by the Loxahatchee chapter of the Florida Trail Association. And, of course, there are two ways to tackle it, either starting directly from the lake near the “LOST” trailhead or by the beach at Hobe’s Sound. Nevertheless, you need to find some way to get back to your car, as this trail is not a loop.
The trail starts through the Dupris Wildlife Management Area, which is a relatively dry pine forest. After about 20 miles, you’ll be in the Corbett Area, which is home to vast fields, massive lakes, and even an enigmatic cypress called the “Hole in Wall.” As you continue, you’ll enter the Kitching Creek area, which hosts tropical hammocks, palmetto savannahs, and some of Florida’s only sand dunes. After finally exiting through a few miles of tropical tunnels, you will exit at Hobe’s sound, and then be face to face with the Atlantic Ocean.
The Ocean-Lake Trail may not be as prestigious as the Appalachian, but it is a hidden gem that shows the real beauty of Old Florida.
Photographs by Diego Rodriguez