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Topic: Backpacking near Orlando?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 15 2013, 5:53 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I recently moved to Orlando from southern California. I'm an avid backpacker, there were tons of great options for that in SoCal. Any good backpacking options within driving distance of Orlando?
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 15 2013, 6:18 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I live here in Orlando. There are a few gems in the city limits, my favorite being The Little Big Econ State Forest, a great hike on the Florida Trail. If you don't know about the Florida Trail, I'd start there. Close by is also Wekiva State Park which has a network of loop trails. About an hour north is the Ocala National Forest, some of the best hiking in the state.

Here are some links to get you started, let me know if you have any questions.

http://www.floridatrail.org/

http://www.floridastateparks.org/

http://www.outintheboonies.com/    ( a great resource)!!!

http://www.floridahikes.com/   (Sandra has a ton of books out too).

A great local outdoor store is Travel Country Outdoors

http://www.travelcountry.com/


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 15 2013, 6:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ocala National Forest looks great!  Floridahikes.com is chalk full of good info too.  And TravelCountry is exactly what I was looking for; I searched for an REI store around here but there aren't any.  Thanks a lot Van.

Where would be the nearest place to backpack with some elevation gain i.e. mountains to go up and deep into, maybe some swimming/stream/river options, some views?  I'd imagine Great Smoky Mountain NP has that, but it looks like that is a 10 hour drive from Orlando :(.
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 15 2013, 7:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As another newcomer, I think the closest mountains are in Georgia.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 15 2013, 7:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes, think North GA. I grew up and went to sleep away camp in the area of Clayton, GA. It is about 8 hours from here. Check out the National forests and surrounding areas. The Chatahoochee, Pisgah, Nantahala, and Cohuttas will keep you busy for a long time before ever needing to set foot in GSMNP.

Hiking here in Florida is a change, but I promise the sandy trails, pine/palm forests, and great water sources (think natural springs) will win you over. And... you can always hop up I-75 or I-95 for the mountains.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 15 2013, 8:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yep, North Georgia: http://sherpaguides.com/

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 16 2013, 9:05 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(VAN @ Sep. 15 2013, 7:27 pm)
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Hiking here in Florida is a change, but I promise the sandy trails, pine/palm forests, and great water sources (think natural springs) will win you over.

Sounds good.  What would you recommend for my first FL backpack trip, ideally something <3 hours or so from Orlando... an overnighter, some decent distance i.e. moderately strenuous, relative seclusion, and good water source to drink (filtered of course) and swim?  Oh yes and minimal alligator danger ha
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 16 2013, 2:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

How is your heat/bug tolerance? If it's not good, it would be nice to wait until at least late October (or after the first cold snap) before attempting any backpacking around here. In the ONF, hunting season will be underway during that time and you will be required to stay at Fairies Prairie or Hopkins Prairie campgrounds. Otherwise, you will have to wait until February (not 100% on this one) before you can camp in the backcountry in the ONF. Oh, forget swimming unless it's at one of the springs (Silver Glen, Juniper Springs, Salt Springs) because there are gators all over the place in the ONF.
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 16 2013, 6:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You CAN camp in the backcountry if you are in Juniper Prairie Wilderness, there is no hunting there. We went the day after thanksgiving and started at Pat's Island Trailhead, walked to Hidden Pond campsite (5ish miles) and then on to Juniper Springs (another 5ish miles). Here is the FL Hikes page

http://www.floridahikes.com/florida-trail-hopkins-to-juniper


Seriously, check out the Little Big Econ Forest. But wait another month. It's a simple out and back 2 miles each way, and you camp right by the river. Sorry, we've got alligators everywhere, but you'll just get used to it. They actually growl when they get pissed off (I've heard it).

To get there, you want to park at the Barr St. Trailhead in Oviedo FL. Here is the info from the Florida Hikes website. It's $4 to stay over night. It's a great little hike.

http://www.floridahikes.com/florida-trail-little-big-econ-state-forest


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 17 2013, 7:12 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Another option:  You might try starting around SR-60/Kicco (pronounced Kiss-O) and heading South through Avon Air Force Base to Hickory Hammock.  Lots of cows in the North section of this hike.

We saw no other hikers in this entire section, although we did see people in a car at the Bluff Hammock TH. It was an extremely dry year and there wasn't much water although there was a pump on the Air Force Base.

And although they said they weren't bombing, they were.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 17 2013, 10:16 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Heat tolerance = high.  
Bug tolerance = low.  
Alligator tolerance = zero haha

The thought of alligators scares the bejeezus out of me.  On the west coast we take bear spray with us into the backcountry, is there an equivalent deterrent y'all use around here for alligators?
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 17 2013, 10:18 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(apachemd @ Sep. 17 2013, 10:16 am)
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Heat tolerance = high.  
Bug tolerance = low.  
Alligator tolerance = zero haha

The thought of alligators scares the bejeezus out of me.  On the west coast we take bear spray with us into the backcountry, is there an equivalent deterrent y'all use around here for alligators?

Small dogs, not one's you're sentimentally attached to, work well.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 17 2013, 1:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Van, right, I forgot about hidden pond and Juniper. In any case, wear orange if you are out there in hunting season because you never know.
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