Parks & Forests

Top hiking trails near Orlando: Little Big Econ State Forest

Top hiking trails near Orlando: Little Big Econ State Forest

Some of the best hiking near Orlando can be found at the Little Big Econ State Forest, where bluffs along a scenic river add interest. The forest is 5,000 acres preserved in a suburban area in the middle of the triangle formed by Orlando, Cocoa and Daytona Beach.

The water in the Juniper Spring run is so clear it looks like you're floating on air. (Photo: U.S. Forest Service.)

Juniper Springs in Ocala Forest: Fab kayaking at pristine spring run

Juniper just might be the most pristine spring-fed river in Florida. It’s also stunningly beautiful and easy to kayak. On a hot day, the 72-degree water and shaded run help keep you comfortable.

Pitch your tent in the sand.

Best beach camping in Florida’s Panhandle

Falling asleep to the soothing rhythm of waves lapping on your own beach is every camper’s dream, so we pick the best beach campgrounds on Florida’s Panhandle.

Spring Boil at Fanning Springs

Get your feet wet in these 19 cool Florida springs

Florida Springs where you can swim, snorkel and dive.

Sea oats line 5 miles of wild beach at Hobe Sound NWR.

Discover Hobe Sound’s ‘secret’ wild beach and wildlife refuge

Secret beaches are the stuff of vacation dreams. But I found one — more than 5 miles of wild, broad unspoiled sandy shore, lined with thick native vegetation and without a condo or T-shirt shop in sight.

Anhinga

Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge: Window to the Everglades

BOYNTON BEACH — About 260 species of birds and waterfowl find their way here throughout the year, and you can find them by hiking, biking or paddling the canoe trail.

Rosalie Creek, one of the most scenic sections of the Buster Island Loop Paddling Trail.

Buster Island Loop: Challenging kayak trail circles Lake Kissimmee State Park

It’s rare in Florida to find a loop trail for kayaks and this one, with three lakes, two creeks and a canal, is a challenge. The 11-mile trail circles the state park.

Family tent campground

Dupuis Wildlife Management Area: Free camping, amazing trails, superior birding

A prime destination for camping, hiking, off-road bicycling, fishing and limited canoeing, this vast 22,000-acre wildlife refuge is a classic South Florida wilderness with wet prairies and marshes, cypress domes, oakwood hammocks, pine flatlands and abundant wildlife.

A gator seemed to protect the entrance to the mud flats that attracted roseate spoonbills, stilts and storks, among other birds. This is along the river in Myakka Lake State Park.

Myakka River State Park: Expansive, abundant, Sarasota home to wildlife & nature

Myakka is one of the oldest and biggest state parks, a great place for seeing wildlife, from huge gators to flocks of birds in winter. Go here for its log cabins, appealing camp sites, excellent kayaking, extensive hiking and good bike trails. It’s also a good spot for nature neophytes, who enjoy the airboat ride and canopy walk.

The spring at Fanning Springs State Park on the Suwanee River. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Fanning & Manatee Springs: Hidden treasures for cabins, camping

Fanning Springs and Manatee Springs state parks offer beautiful springs, cabins, camping, kayaking & biking in Northwest Florida. Where is this Florida wonderland? Far off the beaten path.