Switchback Expeditions: Best of the Florida Trail Part One

The Ocala National Forest

Quick Facts: 55 miles, 8 days (March 2-9), $700-975, Ages 18+

Excited for spring break? Experience a different kind of spring spring break gone wild on the beautiful Florida Trail. Settle in to a new routine in the Ocala National Forest where our guides cannot wait to show you a more remote side to Florida, as well as all of the skills you’ll need to see it for days on end. Come explore its open prairies, wander through scrub forests, and swim in warm springs that you can only get to with your own two feet.

Register for this trip, or register for more information here.

After flying into Orlando, FL our crew will stay at a campground for a night to get familiar with the plan and gear. For the following 5 days, everything you need will be in your backpack as you live and adventure in the wilderness. As a group we will disconnect from our busy lives, learn about ourselves while conquering challenges, experience times of solitude and companionship, and ultimately find a sense of awe as we explore our awesome planet.

After our hike we will spend time relaxing in a rental house, lounging on the beach, and eating all of the food you will earn after 5 days on the trail. Get the best of two kinds of spring break and let us worry about the details, you just worry about which swimsuit (and hiking shoes) to pack.


Trip price includes all gear, transportation, lodging, and food. Trips can either be purchased with or without your flight ticket. If you’d like us to buy your flight your cost will be $975. If you would like to purchase your own flight let us know, your cost will be $700. The latest we can buy your flight for you is January 12th. Plan on being at Orlando Airport by the afternoon of Saturday, March 2nd.


Some small changes may occur due to weather or trail conditions

  • March 2nd: Fly from Grand Rapids to Orlando, Florida. Guides will pick everyone up from the airport and take the crew to the campground for the night.
    • If you are buying your own flight ticket, guides will be available to pick you up at 1pm and 5pm. If you’d like to travel outside of these time windows, or through another airport, just be sure you can meet the group at Juniper Spring Recreation area (https://camprrm.com/parks/juniper-springs-recreation-area/) by 7 pm.
  • March 3rd: The crew will hit the trail near Clearwater lake and hike about 8 miles.
  • March 4th-6th: days will consist of between 8 and 12 miles of hiking with stops at swimming holes and other beautiful spots. For a better view of the area checkout this link: https://floridatrailhikes.com/ocala/
  • March 7th: Final day of hiking
  • March 8th: Day of relaxation near Orlando including food, a trip to the beach, and time at our vacation rental.
  • March 9th: The crew will get dropped off at the airport to fly back home to Grand Rapids. Our house is located approximately 30 minutes from the airport.  

Common Questions:

  1. How difficult will this be?
    1. Can you run a 5k with some preparation? If so you can do this. Our team will walk between 8 and 12 miles a day with some rolling hills. The trail is relatively smooth and soft. Expect to be on your feet for about 5-8 hours a day, carrying a backpack with approximately 30 pounds of gear.
  1. What do I need to bring?
    1. Our package includes almost everything you will need. However, you are responsible for your clothing, footwear, toiletries, and some other optional equipment. Light hiking shoes, running shoes, or boots will all work. Just be sure you know that they are comfortable to walk in for a whole day!
  1. If I have never been backpacking, can I do this trip?
    1. Absolutely! In fact, we highly encourage first time backpackers to join us. Our guides are ready to show you everything you need to know. All we require is that you come ready to learn and ready to have fun.
  1. Ok, I want to come. What are my next steps?
    1. Follow the link on this page to pre-register. We will contact you to get things set up! Feel free to follow this link even if you just need more information before making your choice. In the meantime, pick some comfortable shoes and start going for walks!

Photo source: https://floridatrailhikes.com/ocala/