by Morgan Jenkins | January 9, 2018

Trail Mix: Hike, Paddle & Tee-Off Across FLA

The best way to see the state is along one of these vista-rich byways.

Path among palm trees and Saw Palmetto. Highlands Hammock, Florida State Parks

Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail

Florida is home to some of the most diverse fauna in the world, including more than 300 bird species and 200 butterfly species, which make their home along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. With 510 viewing sites throughout the state, it’s a great way to see mallards, American flamingos and red-tailed hawks in their natural habitats. Serious butterfly enthusiast and bird-watchers can earn beautiful certificates through the Wings Over Florida program, which officially recognizes sightings of native species.

Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail

Any coastal Floridian knows that the best way to see the state is by water. Known as Florida’s longest and most ambitious sea kayaking course, the paddling trail runs along 1,515 miles of coastline, tracing the entire state. Explore untouched barrier islands, weave through mangroves and soak in the shore from a canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Beginning at Pensacola’s Big Lagoon State Park, the trail is made up of 26 segments and winds all the way around the southern tip of the peninsula andn back up the east coast to Amelia Island.

Florida Historic Golf Trail

If baseball is America’s favorite pastime, then golf is certainly Florida’s. Some of the nation’s oldest courses were designed by architects like Donald Ross and Seth Raynor and built alongside Florida’s historic railroads and hotels. Many of these old-school courses, located across the state from the Keys to Tampa Bay and up to Pensacola, are still open to the public. While some of the courses have been revamped through the years, others have retained their original splendor. For golf lovers, this collection of trails simply cannot be missed.

Native American Heritage Trail

Most Floridians associate Native American culture with college football teams or hard-to-pronounce names, such as Withlacoochee, Micanopy and Thonotosassa, on signs along the highways. Few recognize the role that these tribes played in the cultural development of our Sunshine State. Seventy historical and archaeological sites on the trail, including caverns, burial mounds and museums, show how tribes like the Apalachee and Calusa lived, hunted and thrived in pre-colonial Florida, shaping the state we love today.

Florida National Scenic Trail

The Florida National Scenic Trail, commonly called the Florida Trail, is revered as one of the most environ-mentally diverse hiking trails in the state. Spanning across 1,300 miles, it crawls from the pristine white sand beaches of the Florida Panhandle all the way to the estuaries of the Everglades and hits most major natural landmarks—including Lake Okeechobee—in between. Its sheer scale makes it only about an hour’s drive from most major Florida cities. It’s ideal for people of all experience levels, from families to the most seasoned hikers.