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HomeUncategorizedOctober celebrates 50 years of the National Trails System Act

October celebrates 50 years of the National Trails System Act

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In February 1965, President Lyndon Johnson’s speech to Congress on “Conservation and Preservation of Natural Beauty” was more than about clean water and parks.  He also spoke about trails.

The forgotten outdoorsmen of today are those who like to walk, hike, ride horseback, or bicycle. For them we must have trails as well as highways…Old and young alike can participate. Our doctors recommend and encourage such activity for fitness and fun.”

He requested that the Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, work with federal government officials along with state and local leaders to introduce a cooperative program, a national system of trails that would lead through many of national forests and parks in the United States of America.  The effort culminated in a 1966 report called Trails for America.  Legislation (National Trails System Act of 1968) was passed based on suggestions in the report establishing three different trail systems; National Scenic Trails, National Recreation Trails, and Connecting and Side Trails.  In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed into law a bill that created an additional category of trails: National Historic Trails.

The National Scenic Trail has 11 designated trails within the National Trails System and one of those is the Florida National Scenic Trail, with over a thousand miles- one stretch of which takes hikers through Hernando County.

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Those that love a little outdoor adventure can experience over 20 miles of some of the best scenic hiking in Hernando County. Hikers can enjoy the diversity of habitats from swamp domes to sandhill scrub within the Withlacoochee Forest and may even see some of Florida’s amazing wildlife and wildflowers.

Not enough time to experience the full 20 miles?  Here are three sections of the FNST in Hernando County for starting a simple outdoor adventure.

-Cypress Lake Preserve: the trail enters/exits on Ridge Manor Blvd with 1.62 miles of scrub and sandhill habitats as well as dome swamps and enters/exits on Paul R. Steckle Lane

-Perry Oldenburg: enters/exits at Willow Street with 1.54 miles of mostly sandhill habitat and follows Deer Run Road for 1.02 miles to connect to Colonel Robins Tract Trail a .74 mile section of the Withlacoochee State Forest that enters/exits US 41 (across the street of the Chinsegut Conservation Trail)

-Chinsegut Conservation Trail: enters/exits at US 41 and Snow Memorial HWY is 2.04 miles of upland pine and the trail leads you to the Cypress Boardwalk overlooking Mays Prairie. The trail exits/enters at CR 481 (Snow Memorial HWY near Lake Lindsey Road)


Suggested tips before you hike:

  • -Call ahead for trail conditions

  • -Plan the Day

    • Get your backpack organized

    • Cell phone charged

    • Contacts

    • First Aid/Medical needs

    • How long will you be gone and how many miles are you hiking

  • -Familiarize the Trail

    • Location Website

    • Trail Maps

    • https://www.floridatrail.org/

  • -Hunting Dates

    • FWC posts hunting dates (http://myfwc.com/hunting/)

    • Wear bright colored shirts

  • -Dress for Hiking

    • Hiking attire

    • Walking Stick

  • -Water & Snacks

    • Plan enough for the distance you are hiking

  • -Bug Spray

    • Best way to deter yourself from ticks and mosquitoes

  • Don’t stray

    • Stay on the trails

  • Wildlife

    • Understand that all species of wildlife roams, crawls and flies freely

  • Leave No Trace

    • Take trash with you, don’t leave it behind


Check out https://www.floridatrail.org/florida-national-scenic-trail/fnst/ for more helpful information.

Learn more about the National Trails System https://www.trails50.org/


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Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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