If you think gorgeous sunsets and exquisite beaches are all Florida has to offer, you might want to think again. When it comes to outdoor activities to explore, there is no limit to what you can do and places you can visit in the beautiful Sunshine State. Of these many activities are two sought-after leisure options, which are overlanding and off-roading.
Florida offers some of the best road adventures you could ever ask for. Are you planning to explore the gorgeous landscapes and roads in Florida? Tighten up! Here are some of the best off-road and overlanding trails in Florida in all their splendor.
Going Overlanding & Off-Roading Florida-Style
With the Atlantic on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, Florida is blessed with miles and miles of beautiful beaches. However, warm weather, beautiful beaches, and a fun nightlife is not all Florida has to offer.
Florida is located in the Southeastern region of the United States of America. Georgia borders it to the north, the Straits of Florida & Cuba on the south, the Gulf of Mexico to the west, Alabama to the northwest, and the Bahamas & Atlantic Ocean to the east. In fact, Florida is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
Florida is world-renowned for being the Theme Park Capital of the world (more specifically, Orlando), the largest producer of orange juice and grapefruit in the United States, and having an average of 361 days of sun a year. However, it is also famous and highly sought-after for the tons of natural wonders scattered over all 65,758 square miles.
With its numerous natural attractions, Florida gets its fair share of outdoor life enthusiasts. From campers looking to have a taste of the outdoor world Florida-style to expedition lovers that simply want to see the state on wheels, Florida caters to all with its plenty of campsites and adventure trails.
So, If you find yourself constantly asking if visiting Florida for an off-roading or overlanding trip is worthwhile, the answer is YES!
But don't just pack up and travel to the Sunshine State blindly, especially if you are not familiar with its terrains. While Florida welcomes tourists and out-door enthusiasts with open arms, it is best to go prepared. This will enable you to have more fun and enjoy the attractions that Florida has to offer while remaining safe.
Some of the best overlanding trails to visit in Florida include:
1. Osceola National Forest
Located west of Jacksonville, and parts of other counties like Columbia, Baker, Bradford, and Hamilton, Osceola National Forest is a flatwood National Forest created by President Herbert Hoover. It was named after a notable Seminole Warrior named Osceola.
Osceola is made up of almost 200,000 acres of land. A collage of pine flatwoods, swampy areas, and cypress hardwoods, Osceola offers a variety of interesting attractions for outdoor enthusiasts who are looking to enjoy interesting outdoor experiences, including a chance to go overlanding and see the world on wheels.
On Osceola National Forest grounds, you can easily engage yourself with activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, wildlife-watching, and swimming. While some of these activities can be enjoyed without limitations, others may require permits before you can engage them.
Although Osceola National Forest boasts of vast land, overlanding and off-roading is only allowed on designated trails in the dense forest. These trails are numbered and marked, and can be easily found by talking to forest rangers.
When it comes to navigating the dense and mostly hidden (from unfamiliar eyes) trails, you will have no problem driving a sturdy 2WD. However, as you get off the main road, the trails get more challenging and especially slick when wet after a rainfall. These trails will require a 4WD with high clearance and excellent recovery equipment. The more challenging trails are any off-roader’s dream but may be difficult for novice overlanders.
2. Croom Trail
Croom trail is located near Brooksville. A loop that measures approximately 16.7 kilometers, Croom trail is considered a moderately challenging route that takes about four hours to be completed.
Like many other trails in Florida, Croom Trail is a hot spot for many other activities like horseback riding and mountain-climbing. It is famous among overlanders and off-roaders alike for the scenery and the beautiful and mostly peaceful experience that it offers.
Most of Croom Trail is a sandy road except for the southwest part of the trail. The road is lumpy and can be difficult to maneuvre without a 4WD. This explains why the area is mostly used by ATVs and dirt bikes.
However, don’t let this scare you off. If you fancy the satisfaction of beating challenging trails, you should check out the challenging parts of CRoom Trail. If you prefer the easier way of life, Croom Trail has some paths you can use.
Croom Trail is open all season and offers an interesting view of wildlife and flora. If you explore far enough, you will discover the nearby ghost town that Croom Trail git its name from.
Croom Trail also has hiking trails that you can use if you are interested in exploring the area on foot. Overall, Croom Trial offers an enjoyable overlanding and off-roading experience that you will never forget.
3. Hardrock Ocala OHV Trail
Hardrock Ocala OHV Trail is a rather short trail that cannot make the whole of an overlanding trip. However, you can pass through this trail on your way to visit other trails on your Florida Overlanding wishlist or simply enjoy it as part of a short off-roading experience.
Hardrock Ocala OHV Trail is a 3.2 kilometer loop trail near Ocala, Florida. Although short, it is considered a moderately challenging route and takes about an hour to complete. Hardrock Ocala OHV Trail is the definition of a hidden gem because although it is a top choice when it comes to overlanding in Florida, you are unlikely to encounter many off-roaders on the trail.
Hardrock Ocala OHV Trail is open year-round, however, we recommend checking with the rangers before heading out on your trip to double-check what time the trail will be open.
This trail has a rather high elevation so we recommend making the trip with a high-clearance vehicle. The elevation and decline (about 30 degrees) make the trip all more interesting. If you want a short trip that will get your heart pumping and body filled with adrenaline, Hardrock Ocala OHV Trail is a great trail to start with.
4. Lazy Springs Recreation Park
For an unforgettable overlanding trip with interesting scenery and fun activities, Lazy Springs Recreation Park is the place to visit. With more than 375 acres of land, Lazy Springs Recreation Park has more than enough space to accommodate many of the activities on any outdoor enthusiast’s wishlist, including off-roading and overlanding.
It is not often that you come across family-friendly Jeep, UTV, ATV, MX, Wave Runner, and even Rock Crawler parks. However, Lazy Springs Recreation Park offers it all.
Lazy Springs Recreation Park has a mosaic of various terrains with different difficulty levels, from sandy 4x4 trails to mud bogs, motocross tracks, and hill climbs. Because of this, a wide range of vehicle types are welcome at the park.
Lazy Springs Recreation Park does nit require permits to be used. It is mostly open during the weekend and allows camping in some areas. If you plan to use Lazy Springs Recreation Park for a alone or family down-and -dirty fun, you will need to pay entry fees. However, these fees are a small sacrifice to make for the experience the park offers.
Lazy Springs Recreation Park can be accessed from Feld or Fort Myers. If you are coming in from Felda, the address is 9591 State Road 82. From Fort Myers, take the SR-82 east for about 20 more miles.
5. Loop Road Scenic Drive
Also known as Country Road 94, Loop Road Scenic Drive lives up to its name. It is a relatively easy loop trail located near Ochopee, and it is popularly used for outdoor activities such as overlanding, mountain-biking, and off-roading.
Loop Road Scenic Drive measures about 69.2 kilometers and takes about 15 hours to submit. The road is mostly rocky as it is made out of gravel, but it is paved in some areas. Although it is a relatively easy and moderately challenging trail, it is undoubtedly one of the best places to go overlanding or off-roading. On Loop Road Scenic Drive, you can feel free to make the trip with any type of vehicle, 2WD or 4WD.
Loop Road Scenic Drive is both scenic and mostly quiet. Although the area is pristine , it is surprising that you will mostly find a handful of motorists using the trail at the same time that you are.
This amazing trail is a part of the Big Cypress National Preserve, so you are bound to see interesting wildlife and flora. In fact, you will be treated to a front-seat view of gators and birds if you make the trip in the right season.
If you are looking for adrenaline-pumping, true off-road trails, you should keep Loop Road Scenic Drive off your list. Many off-roaders agree that Loop Road Scenic Drive is too easy to provide the satisfaction that comes with testing a vehicle’s strength and your will power on more challenging terrains.
6. Ladyslipper Trail
Located on the Myakkahatchee Creek Greenway near North Port, Florida, Ladyslipper Trail is an out-and-back trail that measures about 4.8 kilometers. It goes in bith directions, meaning you can enjoy the trip from either end. Although it is classified as a moderately challenging trail, Ladyslipper trail is quite short and takes less than an hour to be traveled from one end to the other.
Ladyslipper Trail might be a popular trail for activities like mountain biking, hiking, and bird-watching, however, you are unlikely to meet more than a handful of people on this trail. This is surprising because the trail is open year-round and offers pleasant scenery regardless of the time of the year. It is safe to say Ladyslipper trail is one of Florida’s best-hidden gems.
Ladyslipper Trail is a multi-use trail and allows ATV and truck riders to use its paths. Although the trail has little elevation, the roads are sandy and usually gets muddy when it rains, we recommend using hardy 4WD vehicles for the trip (check out our list of the best cheap overland vehicles).
Running along a peaceful creek, Ladysliper Trail is an easy trial with little to know distyrbances. Although the trail might be too short to offer the satisfaction of an overlandig trip, it offers a fun experience with nature.
Nestled along the southern part of the Big Bend Region located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge spans two counties. Unlike many other Wildlife refuges, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge does not protect wildlife. Instead, it was established to protect the quality of the water in the historic Suwannee river. Regardless, the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge offers one of the most impressive views in Florida’s overlanding and off-roading scenery.
The Suwannee River feeds the Gulf of Mexico, habitat for the Gulf sturgeon, residents, and, of course, animals. Seeing how important this refuge is, if you decide to go overlanding or off-roading there, it will be best to respect the area and stick to the essential instructions, such as the Leave No Trace Principles.
Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge offers all-season recreation opportunities for its visitors. With each changing season, you are privy to a variety of habitats, wildlife, and scenery.
8. Clear Creek OHV Park
Located near Milton, Clear Creek OHV Park is a 56 kilometer loop trail that is considered slightly challenging. However, this beautiful trail caters to all overlander and off-roader experience levels. Driving through Cedar Creek OHV Park takes about 15 hours from one end to the other. However, this is faster or slower depending on the length of your exploration.
Clear Creek OHV Trails travels through dense hardwood forests and ravines. It is mostly used as an ATV track and by dirt bikes, but is also an excellent trail for overlanders.
9. Turner River Unit: Monument Road, Little Deer, and Boot Hill West
The Turner River Unit trail is a 61.8-kilometer loop trail near Ochopee. A multi-terrain trail, Turner River Unit is considered a moderately challenging route.
The trail is made up of rock, coral, and dirt roads, making it the perfect blend of ease and challenge that any experienced overlander craves. Although it might be a relatively short trail, it takes about 15 hours to complete the loop successfully.
The trail is wooded in some areas and open in some, so you have diverse wildlife and flora to enjoy. The area is also peaceful, as you are unlikely to meet a lot of other people.
10. Sand Ridge Road
Sand Ridge Road might be an extremely short trail, but it undoubtedly belongs on our list. Measuring only 12 kilometers, Sand Ridge Road is a scenic route open in all seasons. Although it might not be long enough to offer a long overlanding trip, it is an excellent stop for longer trips.
Exploring The Sunshine State
Florida is home to some of the most gorgeous trails there are. From trails in the Osceola National Forest to those spread across the state, Florida undoubtedly offers some of the best adventures you will ever experience. Are you looking for more trails to explore? Explore the best overland routes & trails on the east coast!