*All the photos are authorized by Jon Birkmire. Many thanks to @Sunshine State Adventure Co. for sharing such great content with us!
Today, we had the great pleasure and honor to have an in-depth interview with Jon Birkmire, the creator and artist behind the Florida Adventure Trail(F.A.T), who had spent tons of time exploring Florida back roads and forests growing up and now has created The Florida Adventure Trail with the help of a few awesome folks that helped scout along the way to piece together over 1200 miles of backwoods adventuring and hundreds of waypoints.
Now, let's welcome and follow Jon to explore The Florida Adventure Trail!🥳🥳🥳
Lasfit: Hi, Jon, introduce a bit more about yourself first?
Jon: I'm an adventurer from Florida who has a deep passion for Overlanding and adventure motorcycles and helping others get outside and experience adventure.
Lasfit: What keeps you overlanding and off-roading?
Jon: The need for more adventure and more time in the wilderness with my friends.
Lasfit: Could you tell us more about the F.A.T?
Jon: The F.A.T is a 1200-mile Overland and Adventure Bike route through the best parts of Florida. The route is 60ish % unpaved roads with scenic paved roads connecting them together. The F.A.T file includes hundreds of waypoints for campsites, gas stations, food, and points of interest as well as the routes themselves. Difficult trails are clearly marked on the route. It's important to remember that Florida gets TONS of water in different seasons. The F.A.T will take on average 5-6 full days to complete. We had a great trip. The only issues we had were the temps because of how hot it was. Overall all the rigs did great on the trail.
Lasfit: Sounds great! How did you first come up with the idea of opening a route like this in Florida?
Jon: One of the parts that made me want to do this project is I realized that every other state in the southeast has an adventure trail and I've realized that Florida didn't have one now the south, the southeast adventure trail does kind of dip into Florida but it sure doesn't go very far so I decided to make one of my own so that's what the Florida Adventure Trail.
Lasfit: It definitely takes much determination and perseverance to start this project! So, when did you start planning your first steps?
Jon: The Florida Adventure Trail(F.A.T) is a project I've been working on for the better part of six years and it started in my mind about 10 years ago as I have spent a ton of time all over the state adventuring and checking out back roads and different campsites and really beginning to realize that with a lot of work more work than I thought. I could connect some of the best parts of Florida together using different dirt roads and some paved roads to create over 700 miles of off-road adventuring for overland vehicles and for adventure bikes and dual sports.
Lasfit: What made you so consistent for 10 years to open Florida Adventure Trail? I was so impressed by the time and effort you put in.
Jon: I love the state of Florida and have spent most of my life exploring it. I felt like more people needed to see how beautiful Florida was and how incredible the trails and campsites we have are for overlanding. It's different than overlanding out west. Florida has its own flavor and style. But it's an epic adventure non less. I guess I spent all that time building the route because I think life is better when you don't miss out on exploring your own state.
Lasfit: Perfect! Have you encountered any difficulties during the time?
Jon: Closed roads and trails. New housing developments closing roads and trails. With too much rain some of the areas were impassable. The hardest part was making it all flow in a way that makes sense and goes in the right direction instead of zigging and zagging across the state. I also had to scout over 100 campsites and points of interest along the route. It was very time consuming and I spent a TON of money on fuel, lol.
Lasfit: Fortunately, you finally overcame all the difficulties and persevered to create what we now call...the Florida Adventure Trail. In your opinion, what makes this a difficult or easy trail?
Jon: Its difficult in the fact that it's 1200 miles long and Florida is very unpredictable with water levels and stuff like that. There are some really technical trails (from Florida standards) but all of it has a bypass if you don't want to do it.
Lasfit: So would you recommend this trail to anyone or more experienced folks?
Jon: All of the above. Anyone can do it. I designed it to be a point A to point B trip so you can either start somewhere in the panhandle or somewhere towards the middle of the state.
I'm going to be releasing the Florida Adventure Trail at the end of November we're going to create a website where you can go get all the information that you need download the gpx file so that you can use it and you can enjoy the Florida adventure trail the way.
50% of every sale of the GPX file will go to support The Wounded Warrior Project and the trail clean-ups along the route with our F.A.T Friends group. We can be FOR adventure and FOR our community.
Lasfit: This is awesome! I have no doubt that this GPX file will pave the way for more people, both off-road newbies, and those experienced folks. Thank you for the time and dedication this type of work takes.
Jon: Thanks for the compliments, it's my pleasure!
Lasfit: In your opinion, are there any modifications or accessories that everyone has to have?
Jon: To do this trail? I think AT tires are the minimum requirement. However, I think everyone should have a winch... always be prepared to self-rescue.
Lasfit: How important is proper lighting strategy for the trail? Can you list from the most important to the least to us and explain why?
Jon: It's SUPER helpful. This is why I'm so grateful for my Lasfit lights. There are parts of Florida that are pitched black and having those lights can make all the difference on those trails. And ambers are a huge plus!
Lasfit: Well, Jon, our interview is almost over, thank you very much for taking the time today to answer my questions.
Jon: Absolutely, I'm quite happy to do that.
Name of the trail:
The Florida Adventure Trail
Best time of year to go:
Full exploration of Florida
Phone Numbers for local help:
Start: 30.62143, -83.09802. End: 30.99638, -86.75062
Tire Pressure Advice:
Up and down throughout
Rig requirements (Example, must be 4x4 with lift kit, or standard 4x4):
Standard 4x4 is fine if you plan to take all the bypasses. AT tires at a minimum.
Click here to purchase the Trail GPX files.
Check out more detailed information about F.A.T on the @Sunshine State Adventure Co. channel if you're interested.👇
*The FAT offers videos on its YouTube channel and connects with adventurers on its Facebook and Instagram and on its website, floridaadventuretrail.com.
Questions or Comments? Leave them below!