Florida Trail Association
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The Florida Trail
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Highlanders Chapter

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Serving Lake and Sumter counties 
 

HighlandersSince 1997, the Highlanders Chapter of the Florida Trail Association has provided a gathering place for hikers in the heart of Central Florida.

The chapter regularly maintains 56 miles of the Florida Trail and offers educational seminars and recreational events throughout the region. They participate in the January Chili Party; Big O Hike; Winter Wednesday Hikes; Black Bear Festival in Umatilla, our Gateway Community; and July and August Picnics. Many hiking and kayaking events that are also planned by members and published in the Highlanders Newsletter.

The Highlanders chapter maintains the Florida Trail in the Ocala South Section in the National Forest, as well as the Cassia Section including the north part of Seminole State Forest, Royal Trails segment, and LaNoChe Boy Scout Camp segment. They are also responsible for the Croom Hiking Trail running from Hog Island to River Junction in Withlacoochee State Forest in south Sumter County. They also maintain one loop trail, the Daubenmire Trail in Flat Island Preserve, in Leesburg.

The Florida Trail through the southern Ocala National Forest was the first section of the Florida Trail blazed in October, 1966. Extending from Clearwater Lake north to SR 40, this segment is one of the most popular in the state for backpacking, with highlights including Farles Prairie and Alexander Springs.

Flat Island Preserve is an easy 3.5 mile loop on an island in the Okahumpa Marsh and features an incredible amount of botanical diversity for Central Florida. It’s a popular destination for beginner backpacking trips and is just off US 27 south of Leesburg.

In Seminole State Forest the Florida Trail meanders through dense cabbage palms stands and across broad palmetto prairies while leading hikers past unique sites like Shark Tooth Spring and Blackwater Creek.