The Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) is a congressionally-designated, long-distance hiking trail that weaves its way across Florida from Big Cypress National Preserve in the south to Gulf Islands National Seashore in the western end of Florida’s panhandle.
The FNST is a national treasure, being 1 of only 11 National Scenic Trails in the country, and 1 of 3 contained entirely within a single state. The National Scenic Trails System was created to preserve the country’s scenic, historic, cultural, and natural wonders, and the Florida National Scenic Trail provides the opportunity to see unique features in each of these categories.
The Trail is currently about 1,000 miles long, with 1,300 total miles planned. The Forest Service has divided the Trail into four main geographic regions: the Southern region, the Central region, the Northern region, and the Panhandle region.
The USDA Forest Service is the official administrator of the Trail, though the FNST is managed and maintained by 27 different land managers and many dedicated volunteers, including those from the Florida Trail Association.
In the 1960s, the Florida National Scenic Trail was just a dream. The Trail’s founder, Jim Kern, saw a need for long-distance hiking opportunities in the state
of Florida, and so he founded the Florida Trail Association to gather like-minded individuals to help him satisfy this need. The first blaze of the Florida National Scenic Trail was marked in the Ocala National Forest in October of 1966, but the Trail was not officially designated as a National Scenic Trail until 1983.
For more information on how to find and use the trail, see: