June 1 is the day to get outside and celebrate National Trails Day with outdoor enthusiasts across the nation.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has lots of places where people can do this, from forest trails to rivers for paddling to sites for birding and wildlife watching.
Folks can visit hundreds of forested trails on the FWC’s wildlife management areas (WMA), including the Florida National Scenic Trail, which passes through several WMAs.
The FWC manages the WMA system to sustain the widest possible range of native wildlife in their natural habitats. These lands are more rugged than parks, with fewer developed amenities, but rich in wildlife viewing and picturesque scenes.
To find out more about these natural areas, go to MyFWC.com/Viewing and select “Wildlife Management Areas” then “Explore by Location.”
If paddling is your pleasure, the FWC can guide you in that direction too. Florida is blessed with an abundance of waterways and paddling opportunities for everyone, regardless of experience. A quiet, observant paddler can enjoy excellent wildlife viewing from an on-the-water perspective. For links to some of these opportunities, go to MyFWC.com/Viewing and select “Paddling Trails.” Don’t forget to refresh your memory about safe boating tips at MyFWC.com/Boating.
For those who prefer studying wildlife – with binoculars and/or a camera – the FWC has a program for that, known as the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. At its core is a network of 514 sites throughout Florida selected for their excellent birdwatching, wildlife viewing or educational opportunities. This 2,000-mile, self-guided highway trail is designed to conserve and enhance Florida’s wildlife habitats by promoting birding and wildlife viewing activities, conservation education and economic opportunity.
Go to FloridaBirdingTrail.com for details about where you can find these locations marked with special signs.
Lastly, check local media for National Trails Day events in your community.
Then get out there and enjoy. This is the American Hiking Society’s 21st National Trails Day®. Attendees will be hiking, pedaling, horseback riding and paddling through some of America’s most beautiful areas as part of the celebration. National Trails Day is devoted to appreciating America’s trails and the hard-working individuals who build and maintain them. To find an event near you, you can also go to the American Hiking Society’s website: AmericanHiking.org.
Logo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission