Florida is known for being unbearably hot a third of the year, but as Summer winds down and land activities become more bearable, North Central Florida offers some of the most unique trails. While most locally know the usuals: San Felasco Hammock Preserve and Devils Millhopper.
But an hour northeast in Green Cove Springs off of US-17 there is a trail called Black Creek Trail. This trail is near the mouth of the creek as it runs into the St. Johns. This trail offers a bunch of hiking, biking, and running trails. There are many side trails to get lost on. And this area is unique as its 10 minutes from the activity of Green Cove, but also 10 minutes away from the rural areas east of Starke.
An hour due north of Gainesville is the beautiful Osceola National Forest with plenty of trails. Two of my favorites are the Fanny Bay Boardwalk that ventures onto a dock in a swamp. Tons of signs with information on the area and very quiet and serene. Every time Mabel and I have done this trail, we have seen a deer. Additionally, the Ocean Pond offers both fishing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities including camping, birdwatching, and seasonal hunting in other areas of the forest.
Most locals have heard of Cedar Key southwest of Gainesville, but did you know the Cedar Key Scrub Preserve offers over 5 miles of trails only about 10-15m from the town of Cedar Key? While this tends to be sandier with less trees, in cooler seasons this offers a great opportunity to see everything from Eagles, Hawks, Bobcats, and Deer.
As always, make sure to pack some bug spray because it is Florida.