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Florida Trail / Ocala NF

Saturday, January 13, 2024 - Saturday, January 20, 2024 -- $1600 ★

The Ocala National Forest section of the 1400 mile long Florida National Scenic Trail was first secured in 1966 as the very first part of the trail to be protected and built. This is a wild section of Florida that features animals including deer, wild hogs, sandhill cranes, wild turkeys, bald eagles, alligators, great blue herons, turtles, egrets, ubiquitous cows, and even black bears which have made a resurgence of late. Follow through on your New Year's resolution to get fit and simultaneously escape your frigid climate. See a wild and seldom seen section of Florida, and lose fat (or more generally, improve body composition).

The Florida Trail is a surprising introduction to wild spaces that you wouldn’t expect to still exist in heavily populated Florida. As the trail is almost completely flat and mileage is low, this is a good trail for beginning backpackers.

Topographical Map of Proposed Route

See CalTopo map


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. Fortunately, January is a ideal time to hike in Florida. Days are temperate while nights are cool (and sometimes quite cold). Expect a few desultory insects, but nothing compared to swarms during other seasons in Florida. Please come prepared for rain, an occasional cold night and the possibility of blazing heat. Midday temperatures during the January 2007 trip reached the 90s for a few days, but this, like the freezing weather we experience in 2014 is atypical.

Probable Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Julie Quibodeaux
Any Other Guide(s) TBD

Also: Michael DeWitt - Prospective Guide


This part of the Florida trail is almost completely flat with a few short hills and is attainable by most people. Furthermore, daily mileage will be kept short or moderate so that this trip is an excellent choice for beginners. While we will need to carry a lot of water on day #3, expect the rest of the way to have sufficient surface water or water on tap every other day.


$1600 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Orlando, FL (MCO) as well as personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 3 frontcountry campground nights, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, permits, campground fees and awesome guides.

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.

Important Notes

This section has been known to have wildfires and in absence of those, scheduled burns. We will monitor this, but we expect to have alternatives in the remote event of a fire.

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Important Note
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Saturday, January 13, 2024

Fly or drive into Orlando, FL (MCO). The best time to arrive is between around 9AM-Noon. However, if you have had your virtual equipment shakedown and can save a substantial amount on your flight by arriving a few hours earlier or later, then do so. If you are driving, please let us know as soon as possible if you'd like us to make arrangements for your car.

Call for a free airport shuttle that will pick you up and take you to our local hotel TBD, which will be our base of operations.

We will assemble at: La Quinta Inn & Suites, Orlando Airport North, 7160 N Frontage Rd, Orlando, FL, 32812 / (407) 240-5000.

Although you have already had the online equipment shakedown. We will ask questions about your stuff and try to economize the weight while making sure you are outfitted properly and prepared for the elements.

Make Your Own Trail Mix Bar

"Before" body composition measurements taken

If necessary, go to REI Winter Park
430 Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789, (407) 647-0731 to buy last minute equipment you may have overlooked

We will place all your off-trail stuff in storage for the week. Please keep this to a small amount

At around 3PM, shuttle to campsite: TBD, To Be Determined Site(s) TBD

Guides prepare dinner in camp. On some trips with longer shuttle times, we may opt to go out for an opening dinner at a local restaurant. (Cost of restaurant dinner not included in trip price)

Camp at TBD, To Be Determined Site(s) TBD

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Break camp and pack up backpacks

We begin today with a half-day canoeing adventure down Juniper Springs Run, storing our backpacks at the canoe rental office.

Each canoe will have 2 or 3 people, preferably who do not already know each other but each canoe should have at least one person with canoeing experience.

At the end of the 4-5 hour run, we will be picked up and shuttled back to Juniper Springs

Have lunch and pick up backpacks

Hike 4.3 miles to Whiskey Creek

There is some (but not a lot of) running water at Whiskey Creek. There are tent sites just North of the creek

Camp at Whiskey Creek

Miles today: 4.3. Total Miles to date: 4.3

Possible bailout: Juniper Springs

Monday, January 15, 2024

Hike 6.7 miles on the Florida Trail to the Hopkins Prairie front country campground

There is generally reliable pumped water here, but we may cache some ahead of the trip

Camp at Hopkins Prairie Campsite, site(s) TBD

Miles today: 6.7. Total Miles to date: 11.0

Possible bailout: FR 50

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

There is no water today, so start out with 8 liters

Hike 7.7 miles on the Florida Trail

Find a flat area to dispersed camp. Note: Almost all areas are flat, but not all areas are clear of vegetation, although there are plenty around.

Camp at dispersed location practicing Leave No Trace guidelines

Miles today: 7.7. Total Miles to date: 18.7

Bailout: FR 54

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Hike 6.2 miles on the Florida Trail

Find a flat area to dispersed camp. Note: Almost all areas are flat, but not all areas are clear of vegetation, although there are plenty around.

We are now near the "legendary" 88 Store and Pub. At a minimum, we will get water here. In past years, they have had a (somewhat) working shower, happy hour and deep fried gator on a stick.

After filling water vessels return to camp

Camp at dispersed location practicing Leave No Trace guidelines

Miles today: 6.2. Total Miles to date: 24.9

Possible Bailout: 203rd Avenue

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Hike 6.5 miles on the Florida Trail to Lake Delancy frontcountry campground

The campground has an ATV section, but we will walk Eastward in order to access hiker / drive-in campsites where we can obtain from a pitcher pump

Camp at Lake Delancy, site(s) TBD

Miles today: 6.5. Total Miles to date: 31.4

Possible bailout: Lake Delancy

Friday, January 19, 2024

Hike 7.3 miles to Rodman Dam

End of hiking

Miles today: 7.3. Total Miles to date: 38.7

Shuttle back to Orlando and check into our local hotel

We will assemble at: La Quinta Inn & Suites, Orlando Airport North, 7160 N Frontage Rd, Orlando, FL, 32812 / (407) 240-5000.

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Take Free Shuttle to Airport or we will pay for a shared cab/Uber

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