sunset over the water at desoto park a great place to explore Florida trails

Sunset over the water at Fort De Soto State Park near St. Petersburg, Florida. This park covers five island and 1136 acres on the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay.  ©Dawn Damico

Gear up! November 17 is National Take a Hike Day, and we can’t think of a better excuse to explore Florida trails and see the wild side of the peninsula! While scorching temperatures and high humidity may have encouraged you to stay indoors or lounge on the beach during the summer (not a bad option, we admit!), the fall and winter seasons in the Sunshine State open the door to an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination.

And speaking of dream destinations, join your fellow nature enthusiasts on November 17 by venturing outdoors to take a hike on your favorite trails. If you’re looking for a new favorite, the options are practically unlimited.

One great resource to explore Florida trails and the trails, activities, passes, tours, permits, and more for 14 Federal agencies in your state is Recreation.gov. It’s a treasure trove of inspiration for federally managed properties. 

Something Special in Martin County, Florida

walking path beneath the bridge in Stuart, Florida-ecofriendly place to explore Florida trails

Martin County is a refreshing change from the highrises and opulence that lies just a few miles south. Stuart, Florida and Hobe Sound are ripe with history and wild Florida places to explore.  ©Dawn Damico

If you’re in Martin County, Florida, they have a terrific program where they have teamed up with experts from Leave No Trace. Their Explore Natural Martin program brings ecotourism and wild Florida into the spotlight, encouraging you to experience Martin County in a new way. The program focuses on education, enjoyment, and stewardship, to enhance your beach and waterway experience. The more you know, the more you are inspired to walk lightly and fully embrace the natural wonderlands in Florida. To stay updated, follow their event page to reserve a spot for upcoming guided nature programs. 

Best Reasons to Explore Florida Trails

black lab dog on the beach at sunset-explore Florida trails with your dog

With dog-friendly beaches and paths, your four-legged family members will enjoy splashing and exploring Florida Trails with you on Take a Hike Day and every other day. Get outside and enjoy!  ©Dawn Damico

You really don’t need a special reason to take a hike in Florida or any place in the world, but it’s nice to have a “holiday” (even when some would call it a made-up holiday) to put into your calendar and make plans. Whether hiking solo, with friends or family, or with your four-legged companion, hiking has benefits beyond getting some exercise. There is no need for fancy gear to be considered “hiking.” Just get out there; Mother Nature will welcome you just as you are.

Discover a local park, a beachside trail, a path through public lands, or something a bit farther away. It’s all about what you make of it!

While we all have different hiking experiences, most agree that hiking has benefits.

Experience the stress-busting power of hiking.

Amid life’s pressures, we often forget the simple act of breathing. Hiking, at any pace, allows you to exert yourself, breathe deeply, and shift your surroundings, offering a change in your state of mind.

Unleash your creativity with hiking.

Have you ever been stumped as you stare at your computer screen or blank piece of paper? You may have a problem to figure out; no matter how much effort you put into it, you can’t find the solution. It’s frustrating, right? Especially when you have a deadline. Hiking can help. Stepping outside puts you into a new state of mind. Getting your body moving in new surroundings lets you take your mind off the problem. This opens the door to your subconscious. It’s as if nature gives your deepest genius permission to show off, allowing you to find solutions effortlessly. You know what I’m talking about if you’re nodding right now!

Hiking is great exercise.

Fast or slow, a body in motion stays in motion. I always love the feel of the burn in my glutes when climbing up an incline, but I also appreciate the exercise my heart is getting. It’s a full-body exercise that doesn’t always feel like exercise because you breathe fresh air, talk with your hiking companions, look at the scenery, and play!

Learn about life and survival, and build a new appreciation for our natural world.

We are all surrounded by our creature comforts and technology; however, it wasn’t that long ago that humanity lived in nature. They were educated and entertained by their natural surroundings. They survived only by understanding the world around them. I don’t know how quickly I would want to trade my freshly brewed coffee beans for roasted chicory or my cozy bed for an animal skin placed over pine needles, but it’s fun to think about what it was like. 

Think about it. When you visit historic spots in Florida and other states, there are often living history exhibits, interpretive trails, and artifacts where we learn about how life was in “the good ol’ days.” Imagine how the first settlers and indigenous populations lived and thrived in the great outdoors. It’s romantic to think about but not so romantic in real-time. Fun, for sure. Different, for sure. Hard, of course. Romantic, sometimes, for sure. Worth it? I think it was. But it wasn’t easy, especially in Florida. When you see how quickly and completely the state’s ideal growing conditions will allow the natural world to overtake our man-made world, you can appreciate its persistence, tenacity, and survival ability. There is something to learn from that.

Hiking is open for interpretation

While there are many ways to hike, what matters most is stepping outside and putting one foot in front of the other. You will meet people on the trail, whether a rugged mountain trail or a meandering paved walkway through a city park, who share your love of the outdoors. Of course, understand the basics of safety. Wear the right foot gear for the terrain. And learn about Leave No Trace. Beyond that, what your hiking day looks like is up to you.

You can pack a lunch with wine and cheese to sip at the top of an epic vista. Also, you can get up early and pack a French Press and hot water to greet the morning someplace beautiful. Or, play a game as you make your way through the trail, or practice skills like plant identification and map reading. You may have a journal where you write down your thoughts or sketch things you see. Snap photos, share, and tag to your heart’s delight. Or, join a guided trail walk. 

***

Mother Nature can’t wait to meet you on National Take a Hike Day and every day in between. Lace up your hiking boots or trail shoes, explore Florida trails, and let the adventure begin!