Florida’s Nature Coast, in and around Hernando County, boasts several hiking trails that will help natives reconnect with the land, or newcomers learn that Florida topography reaches even beyond our famous sandy beaches and theme parks.
11019 Centralia Road, Weeki Wachee, Florida
After parking just off Centralia Road, right next to the trail entrance, hikers share wide, easy-to-manage dirt trails with equestrians around 2200 acres of northwest Hernando County land maintained by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Local hikers who don’t mind the over-abundance of bugs along the trail appreciate the land’s importance to the Florida aquifer system, as well as its close proximity to black bear habitat. The horses will be fine along the trail, but there are no restrooms for the humans.
Crews Lake Park
16739 Crews Lake Drive, Spring Hill, Florida
$2 (automated payment available)
Across town and just into northern Pasco County is a lovely place for a family hike, bike, or picnic, or even an overnight primitive camping adventure! Leashed dogs are welcome. Parking is abundant and convenient to the trail either at the shelter area or near the restrooms and boat ramp. A favorite here is the Gallery of Trees at the start of your hike. You’ll find this trail flat, easy to navigate, and child-friendly. The three-mile loop offers plenty of benches, resting places, and wildlife observation areas, lending a serene, peaceful atmosphere to the trail, ripe for reconnection, reflection, and meditation.
Hog Island Nature Trail
CR 635, Nobleton, Florida
Hikers who wish to spend time in a place that links them with the many unknown footsteps that have fallen before theirs, connecting them to a place so much greater than themselves while being reminiscent of an enchanted forest, must visit Hog Island at Withlacoochee State Forest. The terrain is more difficult to manage than the previously mentioned trails. At times it is narrow, muddy, and nettled with tree roots, but these very attributes allow hikers to feel as though they are on an authentic hike, traipsing through the woods like they were children again. The sinkholes, dense flora, and astounding cypresses are loves of hikers and the bugs alike. Restrooms are available, as are camping and several picnic areas. Parking for the 1.6-mile hiking loop is at the boat ramp.