Backpacking Opportunities in Florida
By Steve Gillman
Let me start by saying that I have not yet been backpacking
here in Florida. A few years back my wife and I did camp in our
van for eight days in the northern parts of the state, and we
saw dolphins while at the beach and alligators when camping at
Lake Talquin (free camping with showers, by the way). But we
did not try backpacking.
Having just moved to southern Florida from Colorado, I guess
it is time to check into what's available for hiking and backpacking.
I can see that around this part of the state, it will all be
easy level hiking or bushwhacking through wetlands with snakes
and gators all around. To be honest, neither really thrills me.
It is a good bird watching area, but I don't need to hike far
or stay out in the bugs overnight to do that.
So at the moment my thought is that I may do some beach camping.
There are uninhabited islands around here (we are in Naples,
on the Gulf side). There area even tour companies that will drop
you on them in the morning and pick you up later in the day.
I'll have to check into whether we can stay overnight. I will
report on that when I know more.
Meanwhile, I might have to drive a bit to try any more-rugged
backpacking in Florida. I was just checking out the possibilities
to the north, and this is perhaps the best of what I found...
River Bluff Trail
Near Tallahassee, this is one of the few hikes in Florida
with some elevation. The trail is a little over 6 miles long,
and goes along the Apalachicola River at two points. There are
views of the river from atop large bluffs (there is some disagreement
over the exact height, but they appear to be more than a hundred
feet above the water).
The Weeping Ridge Waterfall can be reached by a short side
trip. Watch for the turn at about 1.6 miles. There are some rocky
ravines along one part of the trip, and sandy campsites along
the riverbanks. Here are the directions to the trailhead, from
Take I-10 W to exit 166 (Chattahoochee). Merge onto CR
270A and in 0.4 mile, turn left on CR 269. In 4 miles, make a
right onto CR 270. Go 5 miles and bear right onto CR 270A. In
0.6 mile, turn right onto CR 271. Continue 3.9 miles to trailhead
parking at the Gregory House.
As mentioned, I will report back on the pages of this site
when I have tried this or other hiking and backpacking in Florida.