By Alli Hill
Despite the countless beach resorts and upscale hotels in Florida, camping throughout the state is still a favorite among locals and travelers alike. Even better? You don’t need much equipment to have an epic camping experience here. There are a multitude of primitive camping opportunities that take you far away from the city noise, showing you nature’s most amazing, untouched landscapes. Go see for yourself at these five beautiful backpack camping spots in Florida, and experience the outdoors just like nature intended.
This new 7.1-mile loop is filled with a picturesque Florida you never knew existed. From dirt to boardwalks, you’ll wind your way through scenic wilderness chock full of wildlife, including cottonmouths and pygmy rattlers, and of course its namesake bears. There’s a modest, no-frills campsite along the trail enclosed in a palm hammock for an overnight stay. It’s a fairly moderate hike during dry weather, but backpacking ups the difficulty a bit. Make sure you don’t visit when the St. John’s River is flooded.
A favorite among backpackers in Central Florida, this lovely 6.9-mile loop in Lake Kissimmee State Park takes you through live oak hammocks and prairie land. There’s a campsite situated about four miles in right under the giant live oaks, giving a pleasant backdrop to an already enjoyable experience. The campsite is complete with picnic tables and fire rings, but make sure you bring enough water to extinguish a fire as there is none available at the site.
Ideal for long-distance backpackers, this 43-mile trail is the second-longest backpacking trail in Florida. The trail itself is wrought with terrain changes, from sandy hills to sinkholes to rocky paths and raised tree roots. There are several campsites along the main outer loop, which is also broken into shorter loops if you prefer less than a four-day trip. There are designated campsites, but you can also camp in areas marked with white bands, as there aren’t many designated sites.
This 8.4-mile section of the Florida Trail is also one of the most unique. You’ll arrive at Hidden Pond, an oasis in the middle of the Juniper Prairie Wilderness. Aside from this pond, the trail is mostly dry, so make sure you bring a hefty water supply. It’s at Hidden Pond where you’ll make camp. Coincidentally, it’s also one of the most beautiful spots along the entire Florida Trail. Throughout your trip, you’ll have a good chance of spotting white-tailed deer and other wildlife.
This 4.3-mile trail used to be part of the Florida Trail, but now exists as its own destination. Beautiful cabbage palms and hickory trees fill the area, along with a riverside campsite to make the trip even more appealing. Luckily, the trail is mostly a moderate trek, especially given the weight and bulk of your backpack. Camping along the trail is free, however, you will need to obtain a permit in advance. Throughout your journey, you’ll travel through wetlands and oak hammocks before you reach the campsite after 2.3 miles. If you want to travel further, there’s additional camping at the equestrian site at 4.3 miles from the trailhead.