MindFire Press

The Real Florida

Maine Hiker's Journal

Season 2 (2014) 

Chapter 9: The Real Florida


In the winter, I live for six months in St. Augustine, Florida. About a mile from my home on the San Sebastian River is Rabbit Hill, which at 32 feet above sea level is the highest point in the city (and probably for hundreds of miles around). Thus, trails in Florida, while scenic, are basically flat. With miles of white sandy beaches to walk on, most people (tourists and residents alike) probably don’t mind that there are no mountains to climb nearby. Hiking in northern Florida is about exploring the fascinating trails that wind in and out of the hammock, a term for stands of hardwood and coniferous trees that grow near water.

In my case, this means the hammock between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway that extends for 15 to 20 miles north from Vilano Beach to Ponte Vedra Beach. Due to its many miles of well-marked, well-maintained trails (which are bridle paths by Maine standards), the beauty of the hammock, the incredible variety of wildlife, and the proximity to my home, Guana Reserve (a pristine, highly biodiverse, 12,000 acre national reserve) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, has become the southern equivalent of Mt. Agamenticus to me, offering an opportunity to explore from the inside the hammock what is known locally as “the Real Florida.”

Because I spend so much time walking on the trails at Guana Reserve, I tend to take it for granted. However, assembling the gallery of photos of the trails and sights of this special place, reminded me of just how fortunate I am to have access to such a natural treasure (of which there are many in the state of Florida). [Check out the photos in the slideshow below of Guana Reserve and see for yourself why it has become one of my favorite places to hike when I am at home in the winter. To move from one slide to the next, just click the directional arrow on the side of the picture.]

Reliving over the long winter months my breakthrough hike on Cadillac Mountain in the previous (my first) season of hiking fueled my desire to return to Acadia as soon as possible in the new season. So, on a beautiful spring day in May, I found myself on the road to another adventure in my favorite national park to hike in, Acadia. Join me on that special hike in the next chapter of Maine Hiker’s Journal—Acadian Adventure #2.

Click Acadian Adventure #2 to read the next chapter.

Click Maine Hiker's Journal to return to the home page of the journal.

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