Long Distance Hiking FAQs
Q: If I am thru-hiking the trail, do I have to hike the roadwalks?
A: In order to qualify for the Florida Trail Association End-to-End certificate and patch you must walk the entire trail as it exists at the time of your hike. This includes all roadwalks, if that is where the trail is routed at the time. Most of the roadwalks are blazed but a few are not. The Florida Trail Association trail maps detail the roadwalks as well as trail in the woods. You will need these maps, especially in the Florida Panhandle region and on the Western route around Orlando.
Q: Are shelters available alon
g the Trail?
A: There are currently only seven hiker shelters along the Florida Trail. It is therefore necessary for you to provide your own tent for your hike. We recommend tents, bivys or hammocks with no-see-um netting.
Q: How do I decide which alternate route to take?
A: Currently there are several routing options available the thru-hiker. The two biggest decisions are around Lake Okeechobee and the Orlando area.
The FT circles Lake Okeechobee from Clewiston on the south to Okeetantee in the north. The thru-hiker may select which side of the lake they wish to walk. They are not required to completely circle the lake.
Around Orlando there are also two routes. The Eastern Corridor runs from the Kissimmee River through Tosohatchee, Oviedo, Longwood, Seminole State Forest and up into the Ocala National Forest. The Western Corridor runs from the Kissimmee River through St Cloud, Green Swamp, Withlacoochee State Forest, Cross Florida Greenway and then into the Ocala National Forest. Again, the thru-hiker may elect one or the other of these routes; they are not required to hike both.
For Eastern Continental Trail hikers an alternate route is available in the Panhandle. Instead of keeping on a westerly route to the FT terminus at Gulf Island National Seashore, ECT hikers can receive their End-to-End certification by taking a northerly spur trail through Blackwater River State Forest connecting to Conecuh National Forest in Alabama.
North-South or South-North?
Q: If attempting a thru hike, which way is more practical or preferred by other thru hikers, north to south,or south to north?
A: South to North. 95% of thruhikers starting Jan 1 follow this pattern, mainly because it’s cooler in South Florida in winter, and you move north with seasonal changes, and the hunting seasons (where certain campsites are closed) also move south to north over the same time frame.
Q: If one is doing a thru hike, what is the longest distance between resupply (towns)?
A: There is an 83-mile stretch in the Apalachicola National Forest with no resupply options. There are a couple other long stretches (such as White Springs to Aucilla), where resupply is possible only if you can catch a ride to a town 8-12 miles from the trail.
How may days does it take to Thru-hike
Q: What is the average time to accomplish a thru hike in either direction?
A: Depends on your hiking speed and number of zero days. Either way, you’re walking about 1,100 miles for a thru hike, so plan on two to three months. Most thru hikers start Jan 1.
Q: What is my daily mileage likely to be?
A: Some long-distance hikers from other trails look down on the Florida Trail because of its lack of mountains and high altitudes. Florida does however offer its own set of challenges that can affect daily mileage. In high water years portions of the trail may have to be waded, cutting your mileage in half. In low water years, water sources may be few and far between making for high mileage days between campsites.
Q: When is hiking season?
A: The hiking season in Florida runs basically from late October through April. Because of unpredictable weather and hunting seasons in the fall, we recommend thru-hikes start in the south in early January and end in the north by April. This schedule will avoid almost all general gun hunting restrictions and place your hike during the winter “dry” season.