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Helping Floridians get active, author Sandra Friend launches new hike planning website

Dec 12, 2011   //   by Sandra Friend   //   Blog, News  //  3 Comments

Florida Hikes!An enthusiastic and comprehensive look at hiking trails throughout the Sunshine State, Florida Hikes! offers its visitors more than 1,200 pages of content to guide them to a breath of fresh air in the great outdoors.

“Six years ago, I started sharing my knowledge of Florida’s outdoors online,” said Friend, “creating a blog that documented places I was hiking for guidebook research. Since then, finding, exploring, and sharing new hiking trails has become an integral part of my life.”

Friend launched the new on November 30. Visual and map-based navigation make it easy to find trails that fit your personal interest. Extensive details – including step-by-step narratives, special instructions for hikers, maps, and mileage charts – are a key part of the website.

“The Florida Hikes website keeps getting better and better!,” said Kevin Mims, VISIT FLORIDA Outdoors & Nature Insider. “You won’t find a more comprehensive place for Florida hiking information, and I love how easy it is to find trails of every type.”

Visitors to the website can subscribe to the Hike-A-Week, a weekly column providing a detailed hike writeup via email, and the Florida Hikes eNews, a Friday recap of content additions to the site and trail-related events around Florida.

“I want to give everyone in Florida the tools to live a healthier life by just stepping outdoors and taking a hike,” said Friend. “Especially in our current economy, hiking is the least expensive way to bond with your family, clear your head, and keep yourself heart-healthy.”

The award-winning author of 25 books – including ten books on hiking in Florida, with another one on the way from Menasha Ridge Press – Friend is the chair of the Society of American Travel Writers Freelance Council, a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, and sits on the Board of Directors of Friends of Florida State Parks. She lives in Sanford.

For more information, visit

Now on Kindle

Sep 12, 2011   //   by Sandra Friend   //   Books, News, Products  //  2 Comments

I’m delighted to announce that 50 Hikes in Central Florida is available for download from Kindle. It’s the first of my books to be distributed electronically, and as many of you have asked about electronic editions over the years, it’s finally come to pass.  Download one today!

Springtime and new beginnings

Apr 21, 2011   //   by Sandra Friend   //   Commentary, News  //  1 Comment

Springtime is a joyous time, especially when you spend it chasing blooms across the Southeast. I’m working on a new project that had me on the road for nearly a month with my Mom, our stops covered in pillowy mounds of colorful azaleas, bright bursts of redbuds, smiling nods of camellias, and hundreds of other flowers best described by sharing as photos.

Hugh MacRae County Park

Blooms at Hugh MacRae County Park, Wilmington NC

Springtime is a time of new beginnings, too. Easter reminds us of sacrifice, renewal, and rebirth. Birds rush about with nesting material – I watched a cardinal carrying pine needles to create a nest in an azalea bush , and have seen other songbirds making off with bits and pieces of the Spanish moss around my house.

I’m on track for another new beginning here in my own virtual house: a fresh paint of coat on this blog, the rediscovery of a backup drive with nearly two years of missing blog posts – mostly about my travels – patiently waiting to be reloaded onto my website, and a new set of goals for 2011.

One of my goals is to share with you my journey as a freelancer so I can help you with the nuts and bolts of how to live your dreams. I get a lot of amusing comments on Facebook to the tune of “you’re so lucky!” or “I wish I could do that!” when I share where I am and what I’m doing. Luck has little to do with it, and yes, you can do it too.  There are no big secrets here, just a willingness to “hike your own hike,” as my friends say, and blaze your own trails.

Watch for more frequent commentary from me. And thanks for following along.

Books in the Woods

Feb 18, 2010   //   by Sandra Friend   //   News  //  No Comments

What a delight to discover the new Forest Library open today when I stopped in Forest Corners! It’s a gem of a building, quite fitting for being in a community surrounded by the Ocala National Forest. With big windows overlooking the woods and a flatwoods pond outside, a big shaded porch where you can bring a camp chair and settle in with a good book while listening for sandhill cranes, and a community meeting room where free movies are offered on Wednesdays, it’s a delight all around. I spoke with them about giving a talk in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, if you’re cruising through the forest, stop in and visit! They’re just a little south of SR 40 along CR 314a in Forest Corners, immediately past the old library entrance.

Now Available: Exploring Florida’s Botanical Wonders

Sep 27, 2009   //   by Sandra Friend   //   Books, News  //  No Comments

BWMy newest book, now available from University Press of Florida!

It’s a travel guide for flower lovers, an inspiration for you to get out and see the beauty that natural Florida provides year-round. Learn where to find the biggest cypresses, the oldest oaks, the prairies full of pitcher plants, the sweet spots for wildflower walks, and the best public gardens that Florida has to offer. From tropical forests to cultivated formal rose gardens, my latest book helps you awaken your senses while you explore Florida.

To learn more, and obtain a special offer from University Press of Florida…

It’s here! The latest book

May 8, 2007   //   by Sandra Friend   //   Books, News  //  No Comments

Hiking TrailsJust arrived at our doorstep today: my latest book and the first to come out in nearly a year. I spoke with Johnny just a couple of days ago as he was wrapping up “50 Hikes in the Ozarks” (the hiking part, that is) and he was quite happy to see this out on the market. We wrapped up the manuscript nearly a year ago.

Now you know your part … we hiked it, we wrote it … you get out there and order it!

See for direct-from-the-publisher orders. It’s already on as well.

Double dose of Blountstown

May 1, 2007   //   by Sandra Friend   //   News, Travels  //  No Comments

New Blountstown GreenwayDoing the usual bounces across the state, I’ve been to the friendly rural berg of Blountstown twice in the past week. For those of you not in the know, it’s the seat of Calhoun County and perched above the Apalachicola River right where SR 20 crosses over into Central Time from Bristol.

The first visit was to join in the Blountstown Chamber of Commerce 60th Annual Dinner, where Rob drew and I, along with fellow FTA staff, helped to answer questions about the Trail. Mike DeWitt drove up from Tampa to see Willard & Linda Smith receive the Citizen of the Year Award for their hard work on the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement and to generally be there for the community – and he was quoted more than once by the Chamber president! (Thanks to Mike for the photo of us).

L&N in BlountstownThe second trip was this past weekend for the grand opening of the Blountstown Greenway. This new paved trail from Sam Atkins Park to the Landing brought out hundreds of community members to walk, bike, skate, and ride in wagons to test out their trail. Festooned with balloons, the Old Depot on Pear Street was party central and our Florida Trail booth was right in the center of it all. It was great to see folks look at our map and connect their new trail as a part of the whole Florida Trail.

Joe and Ron from the Panhandle Chapter showed up and helped with the booth, and I managed a hike down to the landing with Janette from Suncoast and Marti Vickers, Chamber of Commerce go-getter who got the media in for some great TV coverage. It was a very long and tiring day but did everything we all hoped would happen: connect the community with the trail.  A job well done to the many, many folks who worked on this for nearly a decade to help it become reality! For more details about the day, read Joe’s great writeup on the FTA Panhandle Chapter website.