In the mid-2000s, prior to the 40th Anniversary of the Florida Trail, Sandra started taking notes and organizing images that told the story of the Florida Trail’s inception. One slide show and a handful of interviews happened during the historic 40th Anniversary gathering, when Sandra was honored to lead a hike with three of the first trailblazers of the Florida Trail, all of whom stood at that spot in 1966 and walked off into the Ocala National Forest, painting blazes as they went.
In 2010, Sandra started organizing information and photos in anticipation of creating a history of the Florida Trail. By 2013, knowing the 50th Anniversary would be an important milestone for the Florida Trail and the Florida Trail Association, we both started interviewing FTA members and past hikers in person and via email. We also started spending a lot of time hiking on the trail to update our own photo archives, which stretch back more than two decades, and to have new experiences to share. It’s amazing how much a trail as long as the Florida Trail can change in twenty years, let alone in three.
In 2015, FTA member Rick Lippert of E-Z Photo Scan worked with us to donate permanent digitization of the photo archives at the Florida Trail Association. We started showing key images to long-time FTA volunteers to help with identifying people in them. In addition to cooperation from the Florida Trail Association, some volunteers we interviewed allowed us to scan their own personal images and artifacts, and for that we are very grateful.
The result is a book that provides an inside look at both the Florida Trail’s growth over the past five decades, and at the Florida Trail Association’s history through the eyes of its members, weaving in some of our own memories about our personal involvement with the trail since the 1970s. Hundreds of people contributed to the making of this book, which celebrates the history and culture of Florida’s National Scenic Trail
Of course, there is much more material that could not fit in the book. In addition to the trail information that we’ve become well known for, this website will gradually showcase additional historical information drawn from our personal experiences on the trail and our other books in progress and in print. Explore and enjoy.