CF alum Sandra Friend brings Florida Hikes to the Ocala Campus


Award-winning author and CF alum Sandra Friend sitting at a table in the newly renovated CF Ocala campus library.

Taylor Roberts


The week of April 7 – April 13, is National Library Week. The newly renovated library on the Ocala campus hosted a talk and presentation by travel writer Sandra Friend on Wednesday, April 10.

Sandra Friend, a CF alum, is an award-winning author of over 40 books, travel writer, and photographer. She is known for writing books about hiking in Florida. Since 2002, Friend has written seven guidebooks for hiking the Florida Trail, which began in the Ocala National Forest in 1966.

Her talk included a video presentation of 50 hikes in Central Florida. These 50 hikes are all in her newest book ‘50 Hikes in Central Florida (Third Edition)’ which was published in 2018. The video was about 15 minutes long and showed pictures taken by Friend and her husband John Keatley of the trail’s scenery.

“50 Hikes in Central Florida is about all different kinds of places to hike in Florida,” Friend said. “From Crystal River over to Ormond Beach down to Melbourne and across to St. Petersburg area. All within an easy drive of Ocala.”

Friend graduated from CF in 1984, which at the time was still a community college. After graduating from CF, she went to the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania to finish her studies.

She lived in Pittsburgh for 13 years, where she got involved in hiking and backpacking, before moving back to Florida.

“At the time nobody was really writing hiking books to Florida and I saw this big open field. So, I sold a story to ‘Backpacker Magazine’ about one of my hikes,” Friend said. “That opened doors for me to be asked to write the first 50 hikes book for Central Florida.”

Teresa Faust, the library director for the Ocala campus, chose to have Friend come talk because she is an author with local ties. Faust is also a hiker and is familiar with Friend’s work.

“My favorite part of the event was that so many people showed up. We bring speakers to events and we don’t know how many people will show up,” Faust said. “We stage an event and we just hope people show up. To have so many people actually show up is the best part.”

Those who attended the event were given raffle tickets and were entered for a chance to win giveaways in honor of National Library Week. Only those who were present at the time of the drawing were eligible to win.

The library was giving away five copies of Friend’s book ‘50 Hikes in Central Florida’ and five copies of her book ‘Five-Star Trails: Ocala and Gainesville: Your Guide to the Area’s Most Beautiful Hikes.’ The grand prize was a drawstring bag, a Guy Harvey Tervis cup, and a $100 gift certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods.  

“My personal mission with writing about hiking has always been, when people go outdoors and see just how beautiful it is they’re going to want to protect it,” Friend said.

For more information about Friend and hikes in Florida visit her website,


Story and photos by: Taylor Roberts