2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – December 2001

Hike Florida's Prairie On The Myakka Trail

Hike the Myakka Trail for a glimpse of the Sunshine State's wild and grassy past.

by: Johnny Molloy

PAGE 1 2

Close your eyes and imagine yourself backpacking in Florida. If your image includes slogging down a waterlogged trail and dodging alligators, you're in for a pleasant surprise. I had the good fortune to go backpacking in Myakka River State Park last winter, and now my vision of Florida hiking includes a vast dry prairie and far-reaching views.

The 28,875-acre park in central Florida protects one of the largest remaining tracts of Florida's dry grass prairie, an ecosystem that once covered parts of the state from coast to coast. Add the Wild and Scenic Myakka River, 12 miles of which flow through the park, as well as 7,500 acres of wilderness around Lower Myakka Lake, and you have the makings of a great hike.

The 39-mile, hikers-only Myakka Trail loops through a diverse array of grass/palmetto prairies, dense palm islands, and shady oak hammocks. The park is home to an odd crew of wildlife, including burrowing owls, bald eagles, grasshopper sparrows, ospreys, sandhill cranes, and Eastern box turtles. There's also a good chance of seeing alligators (this is still Florida, after all). Distinctive local plants include the endangered wild pineapple and resurrection ferns, which become brown and shriveled until infrequent winter rains bring them back to life.

The day I set out on the trail, the rich green hues of new growth peeked through the blackened soil of a recent fire. After crossing a sunny, open flat, the sandy, narrow footpath entered a dark palm grove. An armadillo skittered through palm fronds. Willows grew thick alongside an intermittent streambed. That night, I camped at Bee Island, one of the park's six backcountry campsites (well water must be treated, and wells sometimes dry up, so check ahead). As I pitched my tent in a longleaf pine stand overlooking the vast prairie, fog rolled across the landscape and an owl broke the silence of the cool evening.

PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Jun 22, 2011

Have hiked portion of Myakka trail. Highly recommend it, it does represent the true Florida. Enjoy!


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Health and Fitness
2014 fitness updates
Posted On: Jul 23, 2014
Submitted By: ol-zeke
Trailhead Register
The "Good Morning" thread: part 2
Posted On: Jul 23, 2014
Submitted By: ol-zeke
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions