I recently returned from the Citrus Trail in Withlacoochee State Forest, Central Florida. It's the state's longest loop trail at 46 miles. I did it in three days, at around 15 miles a day, with some off-trail diversions.
This was my first hike in Central Florida. As expected of the state, It's fairly flat, no vistas or anything of epic scale, but It was unexpectedly beautiful. The details were captivating.
The trail is a mix of palms, pines, cacti, and oak. The terrain was dry scrub to jungly. I also encountered mysterious caves and limestone sinkholes.
My company were lizards, turtle, deer, wild turkey, large raptors. Pulled off a few ticks, pestered by some biting flys, and very few mosquitos, which is a luxury in Florida
The climate was Super dry, Super hot, highs of 92F. The nights were surprisingly cool. Down to 58. Was not prepared for how cold that would feel in a hammock. I've only used my hammock in the humid tropics (borneo and south florida).
The trail was nearly completely devoid of any water. I have never done a dry trail before, and it was somewhat stressful. I do not think I will do that again. I did Cache water at trail and forest road intersections, but it was not enough. Partly I just didn't want to carry more than 3 litres at a time, and partly the heat dehydrating me faster than expected. I also expected to find at least some ponds or marshes. Ended up having to drink from scummy pond, puddle, and horse cistern. Aggressively filtered.
There were some great things about the dryness: no tarp needed, slept in the hammock under the stars. And very few mosquitos and other insects.
Some gear highlights:
Shelter: Hennessy ultralite backpacker. Great for anywhere in FL, though a tent would have worked on account of the dryness. During the cool nights i lay on a torso length ridgrest with a crappy little blanket on top
Pack: HMG Windrider. Having to carry so much water was a bit uncomfortable in this pack.
Clothing: Wore running shorts and a merino tshirt almost the entire time
Footwear: New balance MT10's were perfect
Gaiters were a necessity!
My food was mainly snack based, with one hot meal in the eve. Primarily fueled by coconut products*, like coco butter and cacao bliss (both from Artisana, recommended) , coconut bars (Oskri), some dark chocolate, and Stoats oat bars (also highly recommended, very calorically dense)). Dinners were instant mashed potatoes with dehydrated veg and a bouillon cube or miso. Also had quinoa which was delicious.
*I find coconut is an excellent fuel that doesn't cause a blood sugar roller coaster. The fatty acids are immediately usable as energy. It's also super-calorically dense.
In the end, I highly recommend this loop for anyone in the state. Just figure out the water situation.
Full gallery here: