|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – January 2014
Going by foot is only one way to see what’s best in the South. Bring your climbing gear, fins, or mountain bike to find the rest.
Bahia Honda State Park, FL
Sea, sun, and sand: Find perfect proportions of each at this island park. Start by reserving your spot on a snorkeling tour to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary ($30/adults; departs daily at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.), then head out on foot while you wait. “The hikes are short, but what they lack in distance they make up for in views,” says Jessica Eilerman. The .8-mile round-trip (from the parking lot) links the butterfly garden (look for nickel-size Miami blue butterflies) and the remains of the old Flagler’s Railroad Bridge. It culminates with a wide-angle view over azure waters and mangrove-fringed islands. Return to the dock and the charter to Looe Key, where schools of angelfish, barracudas, and sharks glide through the reefy underwater wilderness.
Trailhead 24.655501, -81.278980; 127 miles southwest of Miami on Old Bahia Honda Bridge info (305) 872-2353; Website