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Florida Trail

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Florida Trail Overview

The Florida National Scenic Trail offers hikers a chance to discover the natural beauty linking Florida's wild and rural areas. Added to the National Trails System in 1983, the Florida Trail will one day extend 1,300 miles from Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida's western panhandle to Big Cypress National Preserve in south Florida.

More than 700 miles of certified Florida National Scenic Trail stretch across some of the state's most picturesque areas: Apalachicola, Ocala, and Osceola National Forests; St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge; Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail; South Florida Water Management District lands, including Kicco, Bluff Hammock, and lower Kissimmee sections; Avon Park Bombing and Gunnery Range; and Big Cypress National Preserve.

James Kern, a wildlife photographer and real estate broker, envisioned the Florida Trail in 1964 while hiking the Appalachian Trail. To generate support for the project, Kern created the Florida Trail Association. The Association is a nonprofit group of trail enthusiasts who have dedicated themselves to building a trail stretching the length of the state. This Association helped construct more than 1,000 miles of trail, including the main Florida Trail and numerous side and loop trails.

On weekends, Florida Trail Association members fan out to maintain trails. They routinely wade through swamps to build bridges, cut back thick, subtropical vegetation, and paint trail blazes. Blazes are patches painted on trees or other landmarks to help hikers find their way. Maintaining specific sections of the trail is the responsibility of section leaders. The Florida Trail Association and the USDA Forest Service develop and maintain this trail through cooperative agreements with various public and private authorities.

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