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The Florida Trail

Kissimmee River

Length: 33.2 miles (linear)

All along this segment, the trail parallels the Kissimmee River, which is undergoing restoration to its former meandering path. Extensive marshes and floodplain forests buffer the main flow of the river from the surrounding land. Levees enclosed the river’s flow when the Florida Trail was first constructed through this segment, so restoration efforts can and will affect the trail; in places it may vanish under the river’s widened channel when water levels are high.  Permits must be obtained from the South Florida Water Management District to walk through and/or camp in Chandler Slough, Boney Marsh & KICCO. Maximum camping group size of 12. South Florida Water Management District, PO Box 24680, West Palm Beach, FL 33416, (863) 462-5260, (800) 250-4200 (FL only). Thru-hikers are given a week’s window for camping.

Bluff Hammock Boardwalk (Bob Woods)North from Bluff Hammock, the trail continues along the fringe of the Kissimmee River’s vast floodplain to connect-the-dots between wooded hammocks that served as home to Florida’s frontier wave of settlers in the 1820s. You’ll see the remains of homesteads and towns that thrived up through the early 1900s, and then vanished as railroads took the place of steamboat traffic.
The trail passes through the River Ranch Resort and the Kicco (pronounced Kiss-O) Wildlife Management Area. It winds through oak hammocks, along areas of scrub, and across pine-palmetto flats at the edge of the river floodplain. Descriptive names evoke the sentiments of the settlers and the cattle drovers who once trod this corridor, from Tick Island Slough to Mosquito Hammock. A project is underway to restore the Kissimmee River which was channelized for flood control in the 1960s. At several points along the trail, hikers have the opportunity to view both the Kissimmee River Canal (C-38) and a few of the old river runs. Also, the trail passes several places of historic interest, including the site of the former Godwin homestead at the north end of Rattlesnake Hammock, the site of the old Kicco settlement, and the site of old Fort Kissimmee.Animal life abounds. You may see deer, alligators, and wild hogs as well as eagles, turkeys, hawks, wading birds, and sandhill cranes. Audubon’s caracara has been spotted in this area.