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.
Bike & Hike
Lake Wales Ridge State Forest is for explorers – folks who like to find places that aren’t in the guidebooks. Here you can hike for miles in the woods, hear only nature and have a chance to spot wildlife, including bear, bald eagles and endangered scrub jays.
This state park has superior cabins and is a great base for kayaking the Suwannee and hiking. It’s also home to an oddly dated museum on Stephen Foster. (We considered it a funky Florida find.)
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park — the biggest state park in Florida — is a vast, wild place near Everglades City. Year after year, we drove right past, but there are three great reasons to spend time here. We’re glad we did.
This state park holds a special place in my heart. In urban South Florida, it preserves a sliver of the natural splendor once all around. There’s a lot to do here: beach, biking, shaded picnics, Intracoastal views. When visiting, a perfect day includes a stop to nearby Bonnet House.
When driving I-95, you can travel five minutes off the highway and find romantic ruins, have a picnic and a walk through the woods in this Flagler County state park. In minutes, you feel like you’re in another world.
Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach is a rare South Florida spot to hike or bike for miles in a wild area. It also offers a great family-friendly boardwalk through a lovely cypress swamp.
Next time you travel Florida’s west coast on I-75, take a five minutes detour in Fort Myers to discover a magnificent slice of old Florida – a 1.2 mile boardwalk through an unspoiled cypress swamp called Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve.
The 22-mile-long West Orange Trail stands out as an appealing bike trail, as it winds along Lake Apopka west of Orlando. This smooth paved trail gets it right, with scenery and excellent amenities.
Honeymoon Island is an unusual combo: It’s accessible, with first-rate concessions, and yet it’s a big, natural beach where you can get away from people and see wildlife. And you have to love how it got its name.