Given the ongoing closures of certain segments of the Florida Trail while the Army Corps of Engineers strengthens and rebuilds portions of the levee, our hike schedule will be different than in prior years. Presently, 35.5 miles of the Florida Trail is closed to public access on the Herbert Hoover Dike, which is why this year's Big O Hike will be "9 days of hiking around Lake Okeechobee" and not a "109 mile walk around the lake."
Our philosophy is not to lead the group on roadwalks. Most of the roadwalks paralleling the dike in this region are inherently dangerous due to high speed traffic and large trucks. Instead, we'll change up the trailheads we use (which will shorten our hike on some days) and provide days where we hike on other nearby parts of the Florida Trail system. We'll also provide information on where else you can hike after the daily group hike, if you want to explore more of the area.
We may or may not have access to the Belle Glade to Port Mayaca section, which is why we've opted to start this year's hike at Port Mayaca Recreation Area. If that 21 mile section opens in time for us to hike it, our overall hiking schedule will change. You can keep up with details on closures on the Army Corps of Engineers website.
Those participants who complete all nine days of hiking during the event, or finish up a prior's years hike this year by filling in their missing segments, will receive a completion certificate. If you're a first-timer completing the Big O Hike, you'll also receive a Big O Hike patch.
MORE TO COME
As more updates are available, we'll share them through these bulletins and on the Florida Hikes Big O Hike page.
Many thanks to the many volunteers who are joining us to put on this annual event. It's the longest running group hike in Florida, so it's quite a legacy to keep rolling, especially with the challenge of the dike closures along the route. Hope to see you in November at Lake Okeechobee!
Cheers, Sandy & John
(aka Sandra Friend and John Keatley)
(aka JK & Navigator)