As an acknowledged national expert on the Florida Trail, our 1,400-mile National Scenic Trail in Florida, Sandra started writing books about the trail in 2003. Since 2012, we’ve collaborated on a very detailed and popular guidebook to the trail, The Florida Trail Guide, which is also available as a map-based interactive app from Guthook Guides. We’ve also produced a comprehensive photo-rich history of the first 50 years of the Florida Trail as a full-color coffee table book.

Florida Trail history book

John’s first hike on the Florida Trail was when it was shiny and new, just a few years after the first section was blazed through the Ocala National Forest in 1966. As a Boy Scout, he earned his 50-mile backpacking merit badge with a hike north from Camp La No Che to Hopkins Prairie. Around the same time, Sandra was roaming Florida with her parents, who took her on hikes at Juniper Springs and White Springs. She didn’t know she was on the Florida Trail, but those were her first footsteps into Florida’s wilds.

Keatley Friend Big Cypress Florida Trail
Sandra completes her 1,100-mile hike of the Florida Trail
Sandra’s section hiking of the Florida Trail started in 1999, when she took to the woods after the loss of her younger sister to cancer. In January 2019, she took her last big hike to connect all of those footsteps end-to-end across Florida, from the edge of the Everglades to the Alabama border. Meanwhile, John has also put in serious miles towards a section hike.

While our website contains the most comprehensive amount of information about the Florida Trail you’ll find online, we wanted to also share some of our more favorite personal accounts of hiking the Florida Trail with you here.


Florida Trail Big CypressCrossing Big Cypress – It’s Florida’s roughest, wettest, weirdest backpacking trip, best tackled with friends. Along this 30 mile stretch of the Florida Trail in the heart of Big Cypress National Preserve, immersing in the swamp is the point of the hike.
John Keatley backpacking Big CypressCrossing the Big Cypress – John’s account of the toughest hike in Florida, the three day journey across the wilds of the Big Cypress Swamp on the southernmost portion of the Florida Trail.
Starvation Slough Florida TrailBackpacking Starvation Slough – Immersing in Starvation Slough might mean wet feet at first, but the beauty you find the deeper in you hike is well worth getting across that first stream!
Prairie Lakes signCircling Central Florida on the Florida Trail – East vs. West: which is best? Here’s a rundown of how the two corridors of the Florida Trail compare through Central Florida – and a little trail history.
Juniper Creek Blackwater River State ForestFollowing Juniper Creek – On the third day of the 2013 Panhandle Trace Hike, we followed the Juniper Creek section of the Florida Trail away from the wildfires that burned to the north, experiencing beauty and absurdity along the way.
Hiker TrashHiker Trash – When the title “Hiker Trash” gets bestowed on you by friends, it’s an honor – if you love to hike. When it shows up next to your face at random on the Internet, it’s kind of funny.
Cross Seminole Trail Oviedo
Hiking the Cross Seminole Trail – A hike along the Cross Seminole Trail, which the Florida Trail follows through Oviedo and Winter Springs, means an introduction to suburbia in the Orlando metro.
Bike ped bridge over Interstate 4 Orlando Hiking the urban not-so-wilds of Central Florida – What it’s like to hike the Florida Trail through the Orlando metro, following paved bike trails past McDonalds, over Interstate 4, and yes, even past deer.
Marsh Point Florida TrailHiking to Marsh Point – At St. Marks NWR, Marsh Point captures the essence of Florida’s Gulf coastline. But most hikers are missing out on it because the bridges are out.
Grassy waters Lake OkeechobeeOkeechobee Wind – Atop the Herbert Hoover Dike, looming nearly forty feet above Lake Okeechobee, you expect wind as you hike the Florida Trail. A shallow basin of 730 square miles, the lake plays with the weather.
Nobles Road Florida TrailOn the Reservation – Hiking the Florida Trail from Big Cypress Swamp into the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation means walking the roads of this sovereign land within Florida’s borders.
Military Road at Kissimmee PrairiePrairie Reflections – Walking the wilds of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park means hours spent in blazing sun and a landscape that makes you feel inconsequential on this earth.
Sunrise over Lake OkeechobeeSaga of the Big O Hike – Nine days of walking around Lake Okeechobee is a unique experience that can change your life. Learn what it feels like to join the Big O Hike in this day-by-day journey.
Calf along the Florida TrailStill Life, with Cows – Walking the whole Florida Trail means miles on pavement where the trail follows roads. On this lonely dead-end road in Basinger, your companions are cows.
Farles Prairie The other side of Farles Prairie – What’s it like to do trail research? Here’s a typical day out on the trail for us when we’re tracking down relocations of the Florida Trail or finding new trails to add to this website.
Rainbow Swamp in Osceola National Forest The Rainbow Swamp – A perfect combination of cold weather, blue skies, and winter in a North Florida cypress swamp let us happen upon two instances of rainbow swamps on a hike in the Osecola Experimental Forest. Does that make a double rainbow?
Ancient oaks near the Econ The Spirit of Place – Walking through the most ancient of Florida’s forests, the feeling that landscape has a spirit persists, especially when contrasted with places where habitat has been permanently destroyed.
Hiking Yellow River RavinesTwo sides of the Yellow River – Hiking through the Yellow River Ravines section on the Panhandle Trace Hike was a new experience for us all, as it’s a newly opened segment of trail near Milton.


Our full collection of videos of hikes on the Florida Trail.

Learn More about the Florida Trail