The Cracker Trail
Keeping History Alive
Towards the middle of February each year, members of the Florida Cracker Trail Association begin their annual cross-state trail ride, beginning on the state's east cost and ultimately ending on the west coast.
Today's participants are dedicated to preserving Florida's cattle and horse heritage by conducting this annual cross-state horseback ride. The riders are passionate with their endeavor in keeping history alive as they make the trip which spans over a six day period. These riders focus on commemorating, not only the Florida "Crackers", but also the country’s first cowboys. They became known as crackers for the whip cracking as they rounded up and drove cattle across the state, which ultimately concluded at markets in Cuba and elsewhere, via shipping ports throughout the state.
In the early 1800's, this route was used for both cattle and horses. Those Florida "Crackers", in the early stages of Florida's emergence as a major cattle producer, made this trip, not for pleasure, but for their sheer existence.
Today the Cracker Trail includes parts of State Road 66, State Road 64, and U.S. Highway 98. It runs from just east of Bradenton, and ends in Fort Pierce, a total distance of approximately 120 miles.
In 1987, a group of energetic and historic individuals came together to recreate a part of Florida's past that has become a traditional event.
Each day's ride is approximately 15 to 20 miles in length. As the riders move across the state, they stay at ranches along the way. Some riders say the nights on the ranches, sitting around campfires and sharing stories and hearing recollections of old-timers, are their favorite part of the experience. By the conclusion of the ride, as many as 250 riders may join in for at least a portion of the journey.
The trail ride attracts riders from all over the state who come for the challenge, the companionship and the love of horses.