Ocean to Lake Trail
|Ocean to Lake Trail|
|Length||101 km (63 mi)|
|Trailheads||LOST/NENA Trailhead |
Hobe Sound Beach
|Months||Jan - Dec|
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The Ocean to Lake Trail is a 101 km (63 mi) long trail in the US state of Florida. It runs between the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. It is a spur trail of the Florida National Scenic Trail.
Length: 101 km (63 mi)
Standard Direction(s) of Travel:
Season: Year Round, ideal season November through April
Trail Association: Florida Trail Association - Loxahatchee Chapter
- 1 Sections
- 2 Water
- 3 Resupply
- 4 Weather and Seasonality
- 5 Noteworthy Section Hikes
- 6 Permits and Regulations
- 7 Maps
- 8 Information Resources
- 9 Getting To and From the Trail
- 10 Geographic Features
- 11 Administrative Territories
- 12 Online Communities
- 13 References
- 14 External Links
The Florida Trail Association's data sheet for the Ocean to Lake Trail contains several waypoints which mark the clearest and most recognizable points along the trail. While the trail between these waypoints do not constitute true sections, the division in the data sheet into east and west form the more meaningful sections of the trail.
The western half, running for 31 miles from Lake Okeechobee to the Corbett WMA entrance on Pratt Whitney Road traverses mesic and hydric flatwoods of pine, oak, and palm trees with a significant amount of cypress dome swamps and strand swamps. The western portion of this section follows an unpaved road and canal grade for 3.5 miles before entering DuPuis WEA. The trail through DuPuis consists primarily of mesic flatwoods with a ground cover of scrub palms, with on-trail water levels increasing to the east. After passing Powerline Camp the trail enters Corbett WMA, which contains a significant number of wet prairies, dome swamps, and strand swamps. On-trail water levels are generally higher in Corbett than DuPuis, though water levels vary greatly depending on rain patterns. There are no major road crossings anywhere along the western section of the trail.
The eastern half of the trail passes through Hungryland Slough, Loxahatchee Slough, Riverbend Park, and Jonathan Dickinson State Park. The landscape of the Hungryland and Loxahatchee Sloughs are similar to the western half of the trail, passing through flatwoods, hammocks, wet prairies, and marshes. A 1.5 mile grade walk along the C-18 canal leads the trail into the popular Riverbend park on an easy, graded walking trail.  After passing under Indiantown Road, the trail moves through various public lands along the Loxahatchee River before entering Jonathan Dickinson State Park. This portion of trail passes through river swamps and large pine flatwoods, as well as sand pine scrubs as the coastline grows nearer. While portions of this section experience significant on-trail water (especially in the Hungryland and Loxahatchee Sloughs), water levels are generally less than on the western half of the trail. The eastern half is also distinct from the western half in its greater geological diversity and its larger number of road crossings.
There are nine reliable water sources on trail in the form of either canals or pitcher pumps, marked as PP, PW, or W on the data sheet.  Because on-trail water levels can range from ankle- to knee-deep for much of the trail, water is generally plentiful except in particularly dry seasons, and the water one walks through is often favorable compared to the canal or pitcher pump water. In the unusual case of exceedingly dry conditions, the longest sections between reliable sources are about ten miles. Note that the pitcher pumps are not always functional.
Resupply options are scarce. There is one easy on-trail resupply point at Indiantown Road north of Riverbend park (eastbound mile 46.5/westbound mile 15) with a gas station and a few restaurants. 1.3 miles west on Indiantown Road from this same point, there is a full-service grocery store and more restaurant options.
There is the possibility for resupply at Pratt Whitney Road (roughly mile 31 from either terminus), though these grocery and restaurant options are five miles off trail and hitchhiking may be difficult.
There are no resupply options at the western terminus. The eastern terminus offers a Winn-Dixie grocery store and several restaurant options 0.5 miles off trail by following Bridge Road west from the intersection with A1A (1 mile from the eastern terminus).
Weather and Seasonality
The trail is generally hiked in the winter in order to avoid high summer temperatures and the high water levels that come with Florida's rainy summers. The ideal season is December to January, with average high and low temperatures of roughly 75°F and 60°F. Even in the driest of winters, on-trail water will likely be experienced at some point along the trail, and in a normal year roughly half the mileage will involve walking through mud or water. Even though the winter is considered to be the dry season, rainstorms are possible and can last for short periods of an hour or less to much of the day. Because camping options are limited due to regulations or water levels, hikers should be prepared to hike in the rain. Cold snaps that can bring overnight lows into the 40s and occasionally the 30s during the winter do occur, though these are often easily predicted in weather forecasts. High humidity levels in the winter can make the experience of these temperatures seem much colder than they might in less humid climates.
Although the winter is the preferred hiking season for most, the local trail community organizes an annual ultramarathon race along the entire trail that typically takes place in June. In these conditions, some runners have reported the need to swim certain parts of the trail. 
Noteworthy Section Hikes
For a hiking experience through what inland south Florida once looked like, the 31 miles from Lake Okeechobee to Pratt Whitney Road offers a wilderness hiking experience through Florida's northern everglades, consisting of marsh, wet prairie, swamp, and tree hammocks.
Another section hike option is the unique Jonathan Dickinson State Park, which takes one through the drainage of the Loxahatchee River, slash pine flatwoods, and sand dunes. Considering access points, this section can begin in Riverbend Park or on Indiantown Road and run through JDSP to US Highway 1, or all the way to the beach at Hobe Sound, totaling about 15 miles.
Permits and Regulations
Camping is limited to eight designated campsites along the trail. Some of these do not require a permit, while others require you to contact land managers before you begin your hike. The Florida Trail Association provides a contact list and information about camping options in a data sheet that can be seen here
Online maps provided by the Florida Trail Association can be found here. While these maps provide a general view of the trail, the trail is well-blazed and the data sheet found on the same website is more than sufficient for trail navigation.
The Florida Trail Association provides printed maps for the entire Florida Trail and Ocean to Lake Trail that can be found here
- "Everything You Need to Know About the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail" on jupiterhikes.com.
- Florida Trail Association's Loxahatchee Chapter website
Getting To and From the Trail
There are several access points along the trail. These points include the parking lot at Hobe Sound Beach, Highway US 1 at NE corner of Jonathan Dickinson State Park, several points inside Jonathan Dickinson (these require hiking on other trails to connect with the OTLHT), the parking lot at River Bend Park, the crossing with Beeline highway near Palm Beach County airport (not Palm Beach International Airport, through which most hikers will arrive), the south entrance to Corbett Wildlife Management Area on Pratt Whitney Road, and the LOST trailhead at Lake Okeechobee. The Florida Trail Association recommends none of these access points for overnight parking, including the east and west termini.
For an eastbound thruhike beginning at Lake Okeechobee, The LOST/NENA Trailhead is on US 441/98 about 10 miles north of Pahokee, Florida and about 50 miles from downtown West Palm Beach. As overnight parking is not recommended and rideshare options are limited or impossible in rural western Palm Beach County, arranging for someone to drop hikers off is the easiest option.
For a westbound thruhike beginning at Hobe Sound Beach, the parking area is 1.5 miles east of Hobe Sound on Bridge Road and about 11 miles north of Jupiter, Florida. As overnight parking is not allowed in the beach parking lot, arranging for someone to drop hikers off is the easiest option. Rideshare services may viable for getting to or from this terminus.
DuPuis Wildlife and Environmental Area
J. W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area
Jonathan Dickinson State Park
The trail resides in Palm Beach and Martin Counties of Florida.
The Loxahatchee chapter of the Florida Trail Association regularly organizes thru- and day-hikes for the trail, as well as trail maintenance efforts. They run a Meetup page for events and also maintain a facebook group. Numerous trail videos are available on YouTube, including those made by Jupiter.