I was not at all happy that this alligator blocked the way. Swamp left of us, swamp right.
There was no other way back to the starting point of the hike. And you absolutely do not want to get within twenty feet of an alligator.
We tried to hit our trekking poles on the ground, which usually works. It hoisted. We screamed and trampled our feet.
We threw sticks at her. Finally, he rose again and dived into the water, and we passed quickly.
If you are exploring nature anywhere on this planet, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. In Florida, you don’t let your guard down.
Florida is different
Of course, everyone asks about our alligators. Since we have seen alligators in all states from South Texas to North Carolina, this is not what distinguishes Outdoor recreation here from anywhere else.
Where else can you hike in America where it never snows? Okay, it could swim in the Panhandle in Winter, but it doesn’t stick.
Our hiking season is shifted from the Rest of the country, with peak periods from October to April and the best hike from January to February.
Florida is flattering, wetter and more sandy than most states. But don’t assume that it means that hiking here is easier than anywhere else you’ve been.
Climate And Weather
Seasonality is a big Problem if you plan to go to Florida. Florida has different seasons than the Rest of the United States.
It is not somewhere that you are planning a hike during your summer holidays. In two words: the heat index.
Winter is the perfect time for all kinds of outdoor recreation in Florida. You can paddle and cycle all year round, but it’s miserable when you slow down or stop to take a break. See: Insects.
Except in one year El Niño, our winters are usually sunny, dry and cool. When El Niño knocks, it is covered and insolent, miserable, damp. Otherwise, expect a clear sky and sun.
The first Frost-and yes, it freezes in Florida, so pack this sleeping bag at 20 degrees-usually occurs in late November, knocking down most insect populations.
If we are lucky, mosquitoes, ticks and chiggers will not return until April. But everything depends on the weather.
The fact that Florida is “Hurricane Alley” means that we keep our watch during the hurricane season from June to the end of October.
Most of the worst storms occurred in September and October.
Fortunately, while the hurricane season and hiking season are mostly postponed, backpackers in Florida can apply their” package life ” skills to power outages that often follow a hurricane’s visit.
However, the hiking and hunting seasons are tightly synchronized. That’s why you see many hikers in Florida with orange as the primary color in our closets.
Autumn and the beginning of winter are when deer hunters flood in the forest. In spring you will meet turkey hunters. Plan your hike so everyone can enjoy the same public Land. Here’s how.
Florida has the lowest highest point in the United States. But that does not mean that our paths are boring. Far away from her.
We have an incredible variety of habitats in Florida, more than 80 different ecosystems, despite only a few hundred feet of elevation gain throughout the state. Some trails have a dozen or more ecosystems within a mile or two.
A few centimeters of elevation change is enough to change the habitat around you. Nationally, botanical diversity is more complex than most states and many countries.
In the Florida Keys, there are dense tropical forests of Caribbean plants at sea level, some of which are poisonous.
In northwestern Florida – the Florida Panhandle-abrupt changes in elevation mean Appalachian-style ridges, cliffs and mountain laurel ravines exist just a few miles from ancient cypress marshes.
Some habitats in Florida are dry perennial, such as scrub. It’s Florida’s own version of a desert, on the dazzling white sand of the ancient sea dunes.
A few habitats – including grasslands, flat pine woods, and hydric hammocks-hold water for some time after a rain as it slowly seeps back into the ground.
Other Habitats are always or often wet. Such as forests and bayheads, the Wadden Sea, coastal and river estuaries. Florida has a rich variety and complexity of swamps, including the world’s only Everglades.
Water defines our state. We have over 12,000 miles of rivers, which means a lot of great paddle. We have over 600 named sources and thousands more that remain unnamed.
Florida is also home to one of America’s largest lakes, Lake Okeechobee. While it’s not a great paddle destination due to its size and alligator population, you can hike 119 Miles on a trail or ride a bike.
If you really want to get into the wild places of Florida, expect your feet to get wet from time to time. Especially along the Florida Trail, one of eleven National Scenic Trails in America.
The wildest part of the Florida Trail, unlike any other hike in the world, is the 30-mile trail at the southernmost point that runs through the heart of the Big Cypress Swamp.
As a Florida hiker, you need to be aware of what’s going on with water throughout the state. Did a hurricane drop a lot of water this fall? Is it uncomfortable this wet winter instead of dry?
Play safely and check the water level before heading to a specific location for hiking. When our rivers flood, many trails can be inaccessible or dangerous to wander.
When rivers flood, while outdoor temperatures decrease, this is a recipe for hypothermia.
Before you go outside to Florida, you need to understand our wildlife.
It was troubling that the large enough alligator we described at the top of this page was not afraid of humans. And that was the problem. Usually alligators do not sit there and whistle. They’re afraid of us.
We are much bigger. We look threatening. They quickly slide into the water when they hear them approaching, just as most snakes move away before they even see them.
But when someone feeds an alligator, his nut-sized brain connects people with food, and he can’t talk about a burger bun. Game over.
We were not the only ones along this threshold, and after we left, the alligator took over this position and blocked all other hikers and cyclists in the way.
He could have been fed. It could have been extremely territorial. But the likelihood that someone would get hurt if they got too close was very high.
When we got back to the car, I called 866-FWC-GATOR to inform Florida Fish & Wildlife that there was an aggressive alligator on a busy trail.
It is rare for an alligator to hold its ground. But recently we migrated to a wetland in the Orlando area when a very large alligator approached us from a sharp turn.
We stopped. He looked at us, lay down and fell silent. This is normal behavior for alligators who have encountered humans but want nothing from them. He just wanted to use the path.
As the option was there for us to trace, we did. Once we were out of his field of vision, he walked away and climbed the path to his destination. We heard the big splash as it dived into the pond.
Should you be afraid of alligators? No. But you have to respect them and give them a good distance – at least 20 feet – while exploring the nature of Florida.
Also, these are additional safety considerations to consider if you are new to Florida or new to hiking.
Plan a hike in Florida
These are additional bases for hiking planning, which are very specific to Florida. We recommend that you read all these articles before going out, especially if you are new to our state and are planning to backpack.