Florida! Known for its sun-kissed beaches, vibrant cities, and the magic of Disney. But as a native Floridian and an avid hiker, I’ve always been drawn to its lesser-known treasures – the highest points in the Sunshine State.
While we might not have towering peaks like the Rockies, our state boasts a unique blend of hills that offer their own kind of magic. Let’s embark on a journey through the t highest points in Florida.
|Max Elevation 🏔️
|Falling Waters Hill
|Camp South Lake
|Jacks Lake Peak (Unnamed)
|Crooked Lake Sand Hill
10. Orange Hill – The Citrus Legacy
Situated in the heart of Washington County, Orange Hill, with its elevation slightly above 300 feet, is a gentle reminder of Florida’s citrus-rich legacy.
Contrary to its name, you won’t find orange groves here. Instead, the name is a nod to the aromatic orange blossoms that once perfumed the air, captivating early settlers.
As you hike the trails, the soft rustling of the leaves combined with the chirping of local birds creates a symphony. And if you close your eyes, the lingering essence of orange blossoms might just take you on a nostalgic journey.
Pro tip: The best time to visit is during dawn when the hill is bathed in a soft, golden hue.
9. Crooked Lake Sand Hill – Nature’s Sandbox
Crooked Lake Sand Hill, part of the ancient Lake Wales Ridge in Polk County, is more than just a hill. With an elevation just over 300 feet, it’s like nature’s sandbox.
The terrain here is a curious mix – sandy trails reminiscent of beach dunes, interspersed with patches of green. As you ascend, the view of the shimmering Crooked Lake in the distance is a sight to behold. The hill, with its undulating sand dunes, is a testament to Florida’s geological past, shaped by the ebb and flow of ancient seas.
Fun fact: Some of the plant species here are so ancient, they date back to prehistoric times!
8. Danley Hill – The Highland’s Whisper
Nestled in Walton County, Danley Hill stands at an elevation of 305 feet. This part of the Northern Florida Highlands is a serene escape from the bustling urban life. As you ascend the hill, the whispering winds carry tales of ancient Native American tribes that once called this land home.
The dense canopy overhead provides a cool shade, making the hike pleasant even on a sunny day. The hilltop offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape, with the distant horizon teasing glimpses of the Gulf of Mexico.
Fun fact: Local legends speak of hidden treasures buried deep within the hill by pirates who once roamed Florida’s coasts.
7. Jacks Lake Peak (Unnamed) – The Mysterious Elevations
With an elevation of 307 feet, this unnamed peak east of Jacks Lake in Lake County is a true enigma. Part of the Lake Wales Ridge, the area is characterized by its unique flora and fauna.
The trails here are less trodden, giving it an untouched, wild feel. The silence is occasionally broken by the distant call of a hawk or the rustling of a small critter in the underbrush. The peak itself offers a breathtaking view of Jacks Lake, shimmering under the sun.
Pro tip: The area is known for its vibrant wildflower blooms in spring, making it a photographer’s paradise.
6. Camp South Lake – The Lake’s Guardian
Camp South Lake, standing tall at 310 feet, is another gem from the Lake Wales Ridge in Lake County. The hill is like a guardian, watching over the tranquil waters of South Lake. The ascent is moderately challenging, but every bead of sweat is worth the view from the top.
The lake, with its azure waters, looks like a piece of the sky has descended to the earth. The gentle breeze at the summit carries with it the fresh scent of the lake, rejuvenating tired souls.
Fun fact: On clear nights, the hilltop becomes an ideal spot for stargazing, with minimal light pollution.
5. Sugarloaf Mountain – The Sweet Summit
Sugarloaf Mountain, the highest point in peninsular Florida, rises to 312 feet. Located in Lake County, this part of the Lake Wales Ridge is not just about its elevation. The name ‘Sugarloaf’ is believed to be inspired by the hill’s conical shape, reminiscent of the traditional sugarloaf molds.
The pathways here are lined with a mix of pine and oak trees, their branches often forming a natural archway. As you reach the summit, the world below seems to spread out in a vast expanse, with the city of Orlando visible in the distance. The setting sun paints the sky in hues of orange and pink, making the mountain live up to its sweet name.
4. Falling Waters Hill – The Cascading Marvel
Located in Washington County, Falling Waters Hill boasts an elevation of 318 feet. As you approach this hill, you’re greeted by the sound of cascading waters, a rarity in Florida. The hill is home to the state’s highest waterfall, which plunges into a 100-foot deep, 20-foot wide cylindrical sinkhole.
The surrounding area is adorned with tall pines and wildflowers, creating a picturesque backdrop for the waterfall. As you hike up, the trail offers various vantage points to admire this natural wonder. The summit, apart from offering a bird’s eye view of the waterfall, provides a sweeping view of the surrounding landscape.
Pro tip: Visit after a heavy rain to see the waterfall in its full glory.
3. High Hill – The Verdant Vista
High Hill, with an elevation of 323 feet, is another gem from the Northern Florida Highlands in Washington County. The ascent is a delightful journey through dense forests, with the occasional clearing offering glimpses of the world below.
The hill is named aptly, as it offers one of the highest natural vantage points in the state. From the summit, one can see a patchwork of forests, fields, and water bodies stretching out to the horizon. The air here is noticeably fresher, with the scent of pine and earth mingling together.
Fun fact: Local birdwatchers often frequent High Hill, as it’s a hotspot for spotting rare migratory birds.
2. Oak Hill – The Guardian of the North
Standing tall at 331 feet, Oak Hill is situated in Washington County and is part of the Northern Florida Highlands. The hill is characterized by its dense oak forests, which have stood the test of time and witnessed the changing landscapes of Florida.
The trails here are a mix of soft earth and roots, making the hike a bit challenging but immensely rewarding. As you reach the top, the canopy opens up to reveal a panoramic view of Northern Florida. The dense forests, interspersed with meadows and streams, paint a picture of tranquility.
Pro tip: The base of Oak Hill has several picnic spots, making it an ideal location for a day trip with family or friends.
1. Britton Hill – The Pinnacle of Florida
At 345 feet, Britton Hill stands as the tallest natural point in Florida. Located in Walton County, this hill is not just the highest in the state but also the lowest high point of any U.S. state.
But don’t let that fact diminish its charm. Britton Hill offers a serene environment, surrounded by lush greenery and a well-maintained park. The gentle slopes are perfect for a leisurely stroll, and the park’s amenities make it a favorite spot for family picnics. The view from the top, while not mountainous, is a beautiful panorama of Florida’s unique landscape.
Fun fact: While it might not rival the Rockies, Britton Hill holds its own title as the highest point in the U.S. south of the 31st parallel.
Why are these high points in Florida significant for hikers?
While Florida is primarily known for its beaches and flat terrains, these high points offer a unique hiking experience. They provide a change of scenery, allowing hikers to explore diverse landscapes, from sandy oases to rustic retreats. Each high point has its own distinct charm, making them a must-visit for both novice and seasoned hikers.
Are there any specific times of the year best suited to visit these high points?
Florida’s high points can be visited year-round. However, the cooler months from November to March are ideal as the weather is pleasant, making the hiking experience more comfortable. Additionally, this period sees less rainfall, ensuring the trails are not too muddy or slippery.
Are there any facilities or amenities available at these high points?
Some of the high points, like Britton Hill, offer amenities such as picnic areas, restrooms, and parking. However, it’s always a good idea to check in advance, especially if you’re planning a longer visit. Remember to carry essentials like water, snacks, and a first-aid kit, especially for locations with limited facilities.
Is there an entrance fee to access any of these high points?
Most of these high points are free to access. However, some might be part of state parks or protected areas that may charge a nominal entrance fee. It’s recommended to check the specific location’s website or contact local authorities for up-to-date information.
Florida, often celebrated for its stunning beaches and vibrant cities, has a lesser-known side waiting to be explored. Its highlands, though modest in elevation, offer a unique hiking experience, each with its own story and charm.
From the cascading waters of Falling Waters Hill to the panoramic views from Britton Hill, these elevations provide a refreshing change of scenery in the otherwise flat state. As a Floridian hiker, I’ve come to appreciate these gems not for their height but for the tranquility and beauty they offer.
So, the next time you’re in the Sunshine State, consider taking the road less traveled and explore these magnificent high points. You might just discover a side of Florida you never knew existed. Safe hiking!