Following the Kissimmee River north, the Florida Trail heads into the heart of Florida’s cattle country. Okeechobee is well known for its ranches, which the trail crosses and skirts along public lands in the river floodplain.
From its once sinuous path, the Kissimmee River was straightened into a ditch more than a half-century ago by the Army Corps of Engineers, causing much harm to Lake Okeechobee. It’s been more than a decade since river restoration work started, breaking down dikes and dams to restore portions of the old floodplain channel, and it is slow work. It’s been a lot of work for trail maintainers, too. As the waters rise, the trail gets rerouted. It’s important to keep alert to blazes and signs through this section.
OKEE-TANTIE RECREATION AREA [27.150115,-80.868025]: Campground, marina, and restrooms are closed. Restrooms, parking, and potable water are available at the Scott Driver Recreation Area on the north side of SR 78.
PLATTS BLUFF COUNTY PARK [27.297382,-80.994014]: At the end of a dead-end road and roadwalk, this is a park with no facilities except space to park, the shade of live oaks, and a tire swing tempting you to drop into the cool water of the Kissimmee River.
YATES MARSH TRAILHEAD [27.316511,-81.021699]: Small parking area with no facilities. Be alert for hunting season use.
CHANDLER SLOUGH EAST TRAILHEAD [27.355671,-81.013244]: Grassy parking area with no facilities.
MICCO LANDING TRAILHEAD [27.383017,-81.041720]: Grassy parking area on north side of US 98, with blue-blazed trail leading 1/4 mile to primitive camping (cattle, including bulls, can wander into camp and a free permit is required to camp).
CHANDLER SLOUGH NORTH TRAILHEAD [27.37323,-81.044743]: Grassy parking area, no facilities, popularly used during hunting season.
FORT BASINGER TRAILHEAD [27.362978,-81.058034]: Grassy parking area along US 98, no facilities.
4Es TRAILHEAD [27.378699,-81.097159]: Grassy parking area, beauty spot with canoe launch and river access, no facilities.
HICKORY HAMMOCK TRAILHEAD AT ISTOKPOGA PARK [27.400728,-81.163709]: New trailhead for the Florida Trail. Composting toilets, picnic area, boat ramp. Primitive camping with free permit.
HICKORY HAMMOCK TRAILHEAD [27.402641,-81.168589]: The original Hickory Hammock Trailhead for the Florida Trail, 0.4 mile blue blaze connector, no facilities.
HICKORY HAMMOCK EQUESTRIAN CAMPSITE [27.447229,-81.175320]: Camping allowed with permit. Road access. Maildrops accepted. Restrooms.
BLUFF HAMMOCK TRAILHEAD [27.499379,-81.211809]: End of Bluff Hammock Road. Parking, no facilities. Southern public access point for lengthy section through Avon Park / Kicco.
SOUTH TRAIL PARKING [27.543933,-81.220683]: Hunter’s parking area inside Avon Park Air Force Range, accessible by vehicle only with special permission.
NORTH TRAIL PARKING [27.642897,-81.151708]: Hunter’s parking area inside Avon Park Air Force Range, accessible by vehicle only with special permission.
KICCO TRAILHEAD [27.760615,-81.191869]: Parking and kiosk, no facilities. Northern public access point for lengthy section through Avon Park / Kicco.
RIVER RANCH [27.769732,-81.197915]: Parking on site with permission, usually in the lot near the airfield / golf course.
OSCEOLA FISH MANAGEMENT AREA [27.804853,-81.201354]: Parking area by Kissimmee River bridge along SR 60. No facilities.
THREE LAKES WMA CHECK STATION [27.805296,-81.127420]: Access point for hunters off SR 60. Limited parking.
ROAD 16 PARKING AREA [27.890175,-81.152297]: Hunters’ parking area inside WMA.
LAKE JACKSON CAMPGROUND [27.910198,-81.149685]: Primarily for hunters and anglers, permit required for camping, parking for campground.
PARKER HAMMOCK [27.906912,-81.133413]: Hunters’ parking area inside WMA. Near primitive campsite.
THREE LAKES TRAILHEAD [27.927687,-81.124887]: Main parking area for hiking access, at north end of loops and exit to Canoe Creek Road.
Located at the southern end of the section, OKEECHOBEE is a full service city and the only one of any significance along this section of the Florida Trail. Resupply is possible at a small camp store 1.8 miles east of the trail on SR 70 and in LORIDA, nearly 9 miles west of Hickory Hammock along US 98. By RIVER RANCH, a commercial dude ranch a short walk off the trail north of Kicco Trailhead, you’ll want to resupply. KENANSVILLE is 10 miles south of the northern end of this section.