Guided Hiking and Backpacking

Guided Hiking and Backpacking in Florida

Why Hike or Backpack in Florida?

Many people, especially those who do not get out of doors much, don’t know where to start. There are so many varieties of hiking styles and equipment can be overwhelming. For newcomers it’s a good idea to accompany an experienced friend or a club leader on a short day hike, and then go all-day hikes before trying an over-nighter.

The best part about hiking is” it’s a walk on the wild side”, a stroll if you wish. You reach the next turn in the trail you never know what you will see. You control the pace and take time to soak in the sights and sounds of nature all around you as you please. Maybe even take home a few photos to remember your personal time on the trail. Hiking is a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a great way to reduce stress to! The various styles of hiking can suit nearly anyone.

Our prime backpacking season is December to March in Florida. Picture yourself overlooking the Great Alachua Savannah or catching a glimpse of a Florida panther, or just enjoying the local plants and critters. If you are looking to take in some of what Florida really has to offer call to reserve your single or multi-day trip today 813-789-0904
Not a Clue Adventure offers group and private Day Hiking, photo and Eco-tours

Want to get out on your own? For Great Hikes in Florida Click Here!

Things to remember

Hiking has a greater risk of injury than walking because of uneven footing. You must wear good well fitted shoes and socks!

You also risk insect bites, ticks, cuts, bruises and other “natural disasters.” Think of these as honor wounds or adventure trophies. You will most likely come out of the woods with at least one reminder that you were in there. Just remember no matter how “lite” the bugs seem to be on the trail, they will be “thicker” in the forest. Do not forget your bug protection!

You might have to travel some distance to find a suitable hiking trail. We are very lucky here in the Tampa Bay area having so many locations to choose from all so close with many varying ecosystems to enjoy!

Hiking – Tips to Consider

Note: Carry a map, flashlight, water and a snack even if you think you’re going for only a short hike, just in case.

  • Beginners should embark on a regular walking program for a few weeks or longer before attempting a hike more challenging than a flat, basic trail. KNOW YOUR LIMITS!
  •  Start with shorter hikes that last only an hour or two, and then gradually build up to longer full-day and multi-day hikes if you want.
  •  Always bring a map, you should not hike alone, it’s the best thing you can do is always leave your itinerary with someone. If hiking at a State Park, let the ranger at the gate know where you will be hiking, where you will park your vehicle and what time you expect to leave and what trails you are taking as an extra precaution.
  •  Make sure you have plenty of water – it’s worth its weight in gold on a long hike! A basic a first-aid kit is also essential. Snacks are great to have along; you will burn more calories that you may think! On longer hikes many people find hip backs more comfortable than backpacks for day hikes, but backpacks are necessary for multi-day hikes.
  •  No Flip-flops! Wear hiking boots or trail shoes, which are more substantial and have deeper grooves in the soles than walking shoes. Dew covered leaves on a morning trail can be like ice, you don’t want to be left on the trail with a bad sprain while your walking buddy walks back out to get you help. Most of us could not carry another person out of the woods….If possible, get fitted by a boot expert at a hiking outfitter.
  •  It is most important not to drink from streams or lakes, no matter how refreshing and clear they look, unless you want to risk a visit from nasty intestinal parasites. Treat such water by using a good filter or boiling it.

On a final note for hiking – Snack foods should also be in your pack. Children will need snacks often along the way and should also have enough to drink. Don’t overeat before you begin to prevent cramping up or become ill on the hike. Food items should be able to withstand heat and be compact. Peanut butter sandwiches are great for the energy. Granola Bars and Trail mix are also good.


Backpacking Florida

Hiking the Citrus Loop Trail

Not a Clue hikes Citrus Loop Trail yearly in the spring and fall months when it is cooler. We are planning  to hike A, B, C and D Loops again in 2015, so everyone can prepare. If you are interested please contact Jeanene as we are keeping the group under 7 persons.

backpacking florida  Time for a rest

The Citrus Tract, Withlacoochee State Forest is southwest of Inverness and immediately south of SR 44 The Citrus Tract has a dry, all-weather trail on alternately flat and hilly terrain. You may plan day hikes on loop trails and overnight hikes of up to 43.3 miles on the perimeter trail. Trail mileage totals 46.8.

Things to consider before packing for your trip:

Weather: High and low temps – chance of precipitation for our trip this weekend 20-30% chance of rain

Length of trip: 2 days – 1 night

Terrain: Flat – unimproved trail, possibly mud in places

Hydration: will there be water source available – no

Now for the list – don’t over pack – it will just make trip more challenging…

Make a list to include everything that you will possibly need on your trip. Don’t leave things out and think you will remember what you needed. Include everything that you will need, as well as what you might need.

*****Follow the rule for backpacking, which is if you cannot decide if you need it, you probably will not need it. Instead of bringing an extra heavy duty flashlight, bring a second set of batteries for the one you have.*****

Backpack –  Whether you buy one or borrow one, adjust it for your body. Fully loaded, nearly all of the weight should be on your hips and sacrum – this really makes a big difference. The shoulder straps are mostly there to keep the pack vertical and close to you. Extra weight on your shoulders will cause lower back pain later in the day

Reduce food weight and volume – By packing primarily dehydrated meals. Avoid raw meats – tuna and chicken are available in precooked single serving portions and are a nice protein option. Pack calorie dense food, but try to eat from a variety of food groups. Eat a lot of carbohydrates and protein. Since you’ll sweat a lot, make sure you get sufficient salt. Most food packaging is bulkier than necessary and less waterproof than you’ll prefer. Before you go, divide up your food and repackage it into zip-top bags. Easy to eat snacks are great for while hiking. Some Ideas: instant oatmeal, Pop-Tarts, granola bars, nuts, and dried fruit for breakfast; bagels, hard cheese, crackers, peanut butter, summer sausage, raisins, nuts, and apples for lunch; and pasta, macaroni and cheese, couscous, instant black beans and rice, instant soup, Ramen. Don’t forget dessert—pudding, cookies and dehydrated ice-cream are a nice end to the day.

Tent – Shop for a tent that suits your needs. Avoid excess, it will add weight. A two person tent is sufficient for two people; do not be tempted to buy a larger one. Bring a sleeping bag or proper cover (poncho and poncho liner is a good lightweight replacement for a sleeping bag and can be purchased at most Army Navy surplus stores) and a ground cushion to insulate you from the ground to keep you warm( I never go without my Thermarest!). If you don’t want to bring a pillow, stuff a sack with spare clothing at night!  Borrow a tent if you can if you are not sure this activity is not for you. Make sure it has a rain fly and a ground cloth is always suggested. Something small and lightweight is preferable. You don’t need more floor space than your bodies will take up for sleeping since you’ll keep your pack outside. If you are going somewhere rocky, bring a tent that stands up on its own, un-staked. It can be hard to find good places to put stakes in some locations. If you do not have a tent Not a Clue has a couple available for loan – though they are not very light-weight – about 4-6 lbs.

Map – Map will be supplied for this trip – there are no water sources on this trail. If you were on your own the following information applies: Check your map to determine how far apart water stops are, then determine how much water you will need between the two points. 64oz (~2 L) might be sufficient for a cool day, but more, up to 200oz (~7 L), might be required in arid regions. Water should be available at your campsite or from natural sources such as streams and lakes. Use water purification tablets or filters in natural water, no matter how clear it looks. Make sure water sources are reliable. Some may be dry during droughts or in summer months. Call the park rangers for the area to ask if you are in doubt.

Water – On this trip you will want to bring no less than 2-3 bottles of water for hiking each day as well as what you will need for cooking in the evening and in the morning. If hydration is a concern carry a bit more – but remember- water is the heaviest item you will be packing!

Clothing – Wear whatever you find comfortable; there is no hiking dress code. Bring rain gear for rainy days (a poncho is ok for this trip but typically it just doesn’t cut it for backpacking; invest in a rain suit consisting of a jacket and pants). Hiking boots protect your feet and provide ankle support. Buy heavy wool or synthetic socks to wear with them, and consider sock liners (thin socks underneath the wool socks made of polypropylene or nylon) to prevent 99% of blisters; no cotton! In cool or rainy regions, cotton kills! It wicks moisture, is slow to dry, and provides little insulation. Polar fleece, polypropylene, olefin, Thermax, and CoolMax are among the suitable materials for outdoor wear.

Cooking –  If this is your first backpacking trip we understand if you do not have your own stove and cookware. We will be happy to share and assist in educating you on your options. We do however require you bring your own dish and eating utensil. You can pick up a self enclosed mess kit at many Walmart or Sporting goods stores for around $7. When you are ready to make your purchase buy a titanium or aluminum pot with a Teflon non-stick surface. Make sure they have handles, preferably plasticized to prevent burning your hands or invest in a pan gripper. Ensure the pot is large enough for one-pot cooking . There are many options available not only for cookware but also for stoves and fuel.

Lighting – Bring a hand-held flashlight or a headlamp, for hands-free use.

Fire making – We will bring tinder for this trip to start our main fire. If you were on your own you would want to bring tinder to start a fire. An excellent tinder is dryer lint. Cotton balls and newspapers work, but the ultimate is dryer lint rubbed with Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly. These will start easily and burn very intensely. Take fire-starters that create sparks and fire without a match and a large supply of waterproof matches. To make waterproof matches, dip strike-anywhere matches in melted candle wax. Disposable cigarette lighters are also OK.

Packing your pack – When packing your backpack, place heavy items, such as water, camp stove and fuel, tent poles and stakes, and food near the top of your pack and close to your back. Place the lightest items, such as fleece, sleeping pad, and rain/wind gear at the bottom, away from your back. Place your bulky sleeping bag at the bottom of your pack, close to your back as well. Some backpacks are made with a special pocket for your sleeping bag. Beware that these can allow water to enter through the zip so ensure your bag in well protected from getting wet if there is a possibility of this. Medium-weight items, such as utensils, clothing, lighter foods, and your tent body and fly can either go near the top away from your back, or near the bottom close to your back. In the outside pockets, place miscellaneous items that you might need to access quickly: map, compass, knife, flashlight, fire starters/matches, etc. Make sure you pack a trash bag or two for garbage at your campsites and wet clothing.

Pack clothing inside a garbage bag with the top folded over. Put the heaviest items closer to the small of your back and near the top. Keep your rain gear, snacks, and whistle easily available. Use zip-top bags and stuff sacks liberally. Keep all of your smell-able items in one or two places so that you don’t forget any when you need to place them in the bear keg/bag.

If you are hiking with Not a Clue Adventures we will be checking your packs before heading out on the trail for weight , weight distribution and fit. We want you all to have a comfortable trip!



  1. Glyn Richards says:

    Hi ,We would be interested in guided hikes in February . Although experienced hikers in the U.K my wife is fearful of the wildlife that we might encounter .

    • Jeanene says:

      What time in Feb will you be in Florida and where are you planning to be in Florida. One last question – how many days/nights/distance you wish to travel? Or are you just interested in a day hike? Please email me at [email protected]

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