What is the FNST?
The Florida National Scenic Trail is a 1,300 mile, non-motorized trail that starts in the panhandle of Florida at the Gulf Islands National Seashore and stretches across and down the state to the Big Cypress National Park.
Thru hikers have quite the adventure ahead of them along this trail. Florida has some very diverse ecosystems. It goes from beaches and dunes to upland pines, swamps, river bottoms, flatwoods and hardwood hammocks to name a few. The trail goes through federal forests, state forests, federal parks, state parks, water management lands, county and city properties as well as other landowners.
The very cool part of the FNST is that it is maintained by volunteers. The Florida Trail is a volunteer based organization that maintains the FNST. They are well organized and have some seriously committed volunteers that do amazing work on the trail!
Our favorite use of the trail, is section hiking it.
5 reasons we like to section hike the FNST are:
- We get to pick the area of the state we know the ecosystems and enjoy how the trail traverses those areas.
- We can avoid the sections that are along county roads. Unfortunately, the portions of the trail are not in ideal hiking areas and where they traverse the county right-of-ways we prefer to not to hike.
- We can spend a weekend on the trail and enjoy the adventure of being out there without having to quit our job to do the whole shebang.
- As North Florida residents, there are creatures in the southern area of the state that we prefer to never encounter. Call it wimpy, but panthers and pythons aren’t on our top 10 things to see in the wild.
- Seasonally, we can connect our sections hiked until the main portion of the trail that we wish to hike is completed.
Do we have a favorite section of the FNST?
Of course! The Ellaville section is our most hiked section followed by the Suwannee River section. We have also hiked portions of the Blackwater North, Blackwater South, Pine Log and Seashore sections.
Although we have done it, we don’t recommend backpacking it in July! Chalk it up as a lesson learned the hard way. Live vicariously through our misadventure and don’t do it personally. We did a short stunt desperate for a nature break. Afternoon lightning storms, heat, humidity and lack of accessible water sources along the trail all led to a close call with dehydration. Next time we are that desperate for a nature break in July, we will head north or maybe west to lollygag!
Have you hiked the FNST or sections of it? What is your favorite section?
Are you a section hiker on another trail? Why do you like section hiking?