Orlando, FL: Lake Kissimmee State Park

Go wildlife-spotting along the edges of Central Florida's prairie.
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Go wildlife-spotting along the edges of Central Florida's prairie.

At Lake Kissimmee State Park, two easy loop trails provide a weekend’s worth of backpacking in the vast prairies between Lake Kissimmee and Lake Rosalie. Kick off the trip on the first night by hiking clockwise on the 8.9-mile North Loop, where the first campsite is 1.9 miles in. Continue on through flatwood ponds, open scrub, and pine forests (take the spur along sandy Gobbler Ridge to dip a toe in Lake Kissimmee on the way), watching for white-tailed deer, sandhill cranes, and Mexican eagles as you go. Next, strike out counterclockwise on the 6.9-mile Buster Island Loop, where white-and-purple butterfly orchids dangle from the live oak canopy. Pitch a tent at the campsite at mile 4. The next morning, hike through oaks to the scrub, where endangered Florida scrub jays and gopher tortoises make their homes. Info: 50 Hikes in Central Florida, by Sandra Friend. Registration at ranger station required. (863) 696-1112; floridastateparks.org/lakekissimmee

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Location: 27.9413204193115, -81.3545150756836