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Florida Trails

Take a Load Off in Little Big Econ State Forest, Florida

You deserve this: Find a private slice of paradise in this hammock-camping hotspot.

Make the most of your winter on the Econlockhatchee River outside of Orlando. There’s no wrong way to stage a trip in this flatwater paradise, but we recommend paddlers put in at the launch on CR 419 and float up to 20 miles east to the St. Johns River. Stop over in the East Camp Area, about 10 to 11 miles from the starting point, to sling a hammock among the waterside oaks and palms or find a patch of dry land for tenting. Not the seafaring sort? That’s OK: Take off on foot from the Barr Street trailhead, following the Florida Trail east along the blackwater river. You’ll pass through the West Camp Area in the first 2 miles—your best bet is to claim a campsite or hammock-friendly pair of trees beside the tannic water, then keep going on the 1.5-mile Kolokee Loop. It follows the Econlockhatchee before doglegging north through pine woods and circling back to the West Camp Area. With January highs in the 70s and few bugs, this is the perfect spot to get your year started on the right foot—or paddle. Permit Required for overnighting ($10); call the state forest (407-971-3500) to reserve.