Thing to Do

Florida National Scenic Trail

A backpacker crosses over a bridge with poles in hand.
Backpacker on the Florida Trail.

NPS Photo/Kiss

The Florida National Scenic Trail stretches about 1,400 miles from Gulf Islands National Seashore to Big Cypress National Preserve. The southernmost section of the trail is within the National Preserve. The southern terminus of the trail begins at the Oasis Visitor Center and stretches northward for approximately 36 miles to the Preserve's northern border. The northernmost section of the trail is within Gulf Islands National Seashore. It begins at Fort Pickens and runs parallel to the coastline for 7 miles before exiting the park, then reentering in the Santa Rosa area of the National Seashore for another 7 miles.

The trail passes through a variety of habitat types including beaches, hardwood hammocks, pinelands, prairies and cypress. Beyond the National Preserve boundary the trail is limited to a small number of hikers who are members of the Florida Trail Association per month traveling through the Seminole Reservation.

There are several backcountry campsites located along the trail. Backcountry permits are required to camp at these sites.

During the dry season (November-April), there may be very little to no water along the trail. Hikers need to pack in their own water.

This trail is moderately strenuous. Footing can be difficult and during the rainy season, the trail can be heavily vegetated and overgrown. Portions of the trail can be under water at certain times of year. Water can be as deep as 3 to 4 feet.

Several portions of the trail require hiking along the highway, up to 40 miles or more depending on the route chosen by the traveler. There are two sections where hikers may take an east or west route depending on personal preference and hiking ability. Be prepared with permits and clothing for drastic changes in temperature and weather pattern.
To complete the entire section of the Florida National Scenic Trail within Big Cypress National Preserve takes several days. Day-hikers and visitors not looking to complete the entire section of trail, can turn it into an out and back hike. There is also a loop (marked with blue trailblazers) that can be completed. The loop is approximately 12 miles round trip.

Completing the section of the trail within Gulf Islands National Seashore will take a minimum of several hours if not multiple days, but may also be turned into an out and back hike with several parking lots and other stops along the way. The only campground available within the seashore is located at Fort Pickens, about 1 mile into the hike.
Front-Country Hiking
This is a moderately strenuous hike across difficult terrain. At certain times of year, portions of the trail may be under 3 to 4 feet of water. Hikers should be in good health and experienced in wilderness hiking. 
Pets Allowed
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
The southern terminus of the Florida National Scenic Trail is located in front of the Oasis Visitor Center. Hikers should walk down the grassy area immediately in front of the Visitor Center to the end of the fence line, turn right, and then continue straight down the fenceline. Hikers can also access the trail from Interstate 75.

The northern terminus of the Florida National Scenic Trail is located to directly adjacent to Fort Pickens. Hikers should park in front of the fort and walk to the left past a grassy area, where a large wayside marks the trail origin. 
Year Round
Time of Day
Day, Dawn, Dusk
Accessibility Information
This is a moderately strenuous hike. Hikers should be in good health and experienced in hiking in southern and northern Florida. Do not attempt if you have any underlying health conditions or limited mobility. 

Big Cypress National Preserve, Gulf Islands National Seashore

Last updated: March 24, 2022