By Holly V. Kapherr

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Winding through kilometers of Florida’s most beautiful preserves, parks and wildlife areas, the hiking and biking trails of Hernando County are tops for birding, running and cycling. No matter which trail you follow, you’re guaranteed gorgeous vistas of sawgrass meadows, swaying Spanish moss-draped live oak trees or dense pine forest. So, don a helmet or straighten your laces for some of the best hiking and biking trails on what's known as Florida’s Adventure Coast, Brooksville-Weeki Wachee.
   

The Suncoast Trail

Bike TrailAlice Herden Green-Fly Media / Kim Poppke

Stretching 66 kilometres through three Florida counties, including Hernando, the Suncoast Trail is one of the longest paved paths in the state. It connects public lands, regional parkland, wide pastures and woodlands filled with wildlife. The scenic, award-winning trail attracts hikers, walkers and cyclists, as well as equestrian riders. Eventually, the Suncoast Trail will connect to Brooksville’s Good Neighbor Trail, giving recreation enthusiasts access to historic downtown Brooksville.

Florida Cracker KitchenKimberly H. Poppke

While in Brooksville, dine in at Florida Cracker Kitchen for Southern favorites like shrimp and grits and fried green tomatoes, or enjoy a local craft beer from Coppertail Brewing Company in the taproom.

The Good Neighbor Trail’s 16-kilometer greenway links the town with the Withlacoochee State Trail, a 74-kilometer trail that passes through six distinct wildlife habitats. Hikers and bikers will likely spot white-tailed deer, gopher tortoises, indigo snakes and a variety of birds depending on the season, so bring your guidebook along. 
  

Weekiwachee Preserve

Weekiwachee PreserveWeekiwachee Preserve  | Florida's Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau

After visiting the mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, hit the trail at Weekiwachee Preserve, a nine-hectare parcel with something for every type of adventurer, including hiking, biking, paddling and birdwatching. Visitors can enjoy pathways that trace the Mud and Weeki Wachee Rivers, while admiring native flora like cabbage palms, slash pine forests and rows of saw palmettos. The preserve has been recognized as one of the best birding areas by the National Audubon Society which listed it as an “Important Bird Area.”
  

Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail

burrowing owl

With 510 stops and eight different locations in Hernando County, the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail is the perfect spot for animal- and bird-lovers alike. More than 500 species of birds live in the state of Florida, thanks mostly to the temperate year-round weather. Visitors can spot many of those birds throughout the trail, like the Florida scrub-jay, cardinals and tufted titmice. For a local birder’s guide, contact Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau.
  

Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly, Chinsegut Conservation CenterChinsegut Conservation Center | Florida's Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau

Florida’s pine forests are some of the most unique habitats in the state, where some of the trees grow as tall as 30 metres and live more than 300 years. The Big Pine Tract in the Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area is one of the best places to see these monster trees with extra-large pinecones. At the trailhead, pick up a guide to get a better understanding of the forest's history, the park's cultural significance and to view a listing of wildlife you're likely to see wandering among the pines. Along the way, keep an ear out for pine woods tree frogs which make a morse-code-like tapping noise in the canopy above. 
    

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