Billy Goat Day is a Florida Trail hiker reunion and celebration all rolled into one. It dates back to 2010, when Maw-ee and Paw-ee got together with Chuck Norris and Tigger to bring a vanload of hikers off the Florida Trail and into a Golden Corral to meet legendary long distance hiker Billy Goat and surprise him for his 70th birthday. “Maw-ee and Paw-ee sang a song,” said Chuck. “We made the guy cry. ‘That’s the first time I’ve ever had a birthday party,’ Billy Goat said.”
As more people heard about this Florida Trail gathering each year – for Billy Goat is an icon in the long distance hiking community, with more than 50,000 miles walked on the long trails since his retirement – it was necessary to move out of a restaurant and into the woods for a potluck and cookout. Over the years, it’s hopscotched along the trail in the Orlando section, from F. Burton Smith Park in Cocoa to Bear Pond in Seminole State Forest and now to Lake Mills Park in Chuluota, with volunteers picking up thru-hikers along the trail to bring them in for the party.
It is the Florida Trail hiking community’s biggest annual reunion of long distance hikers, past and present. For newbies, it’s the one annual opportunity to show up and meet the legends of the Florida Trail. For past and present hikers, it’s an excellent way to make connections with fellow hikers.
Always held on January 28, Billy Goat Day is open to all. The Florida Trail Hikers Alliance provides the cookout – burgers, dogs, veggie options, and more – along with the venue and drinks. Since it is a potluck, we ask that if you are not currently hiking on the trail when you come to the gathering, that you bring a small salad, side dish, or dessert. Donations are welcome, as this is always a big hiker feed!
Billy Goat Day 2018
WHEN: Sunday January 28, 2018, starting at noon
WHERE: Lake Mills Park, 1301 Tropical Avenue, Chuluota, FL.
We will be at the same pavilion as the past two years, just inside the park gates on the left.
BRING: A camp chair for yourself, and a side dish or salad to share. See the list at the bottom of this page as to what’s already covered. If you plan to come, let us know what you might bring so we avoid having 16 potato salads. The form is at the very bottom of this page.
TRAIL ACCESS: The Florida Trail’s Panorama trailhead is 2 miles east of Lake Mills Park via Lake Mills Rd. Look for Panorama Dr on the map above. Hikers have walked in from the trail in the past. There is a designated campsite, Wiley Dykes Sr. Campsite, a half mile south of the Panorama trailhead. Trailhead parking is limited.
CAMPING: Lake Mills Park has a very nicely shaded campground that accommodates tents, vans, and small campers (no RVs). Sites are $15 per night and include a bathhouse with warm showers and electrical outlet. No electricity at sites. Since the event is on a weekend, we recommend you make advance reservations for camping. Call 407-665-2180 and see full details here.
RV CAMPING: The closest campground is the Christmas RV Park where the Florida Trail crosses SR 50 in Christmas. Although the park does not cater to tent campers or to hikers passing by, they welcome larger trailers and RVs. Details here.
RESTRICTIONS: Dogs are not permitted at Lake Mills Park campground. No alcohol is permitted inside the park.
Food list for Billy Goat Day 2018
FTHA – Hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie dogs
FTHA – Iced tea, lemonade, canned sodas
FTHA – Paper plates, cups, plasticware
Bluetrail – Mac N Cheese
“Hiker Ed” Riskosky – chicken
Sugar Momma – vegan dish
Mosey – deviled eggs
Jennifer Renaker – cole slaw
Trailtalker – broccoli salad
Anish and Pistachio – gluten-free snacks and chips
Jennifer Wilson – homemade cookies
Karen Bradt – pie
Kelly Fairbanks & Sean Spence – desert / brownies
Kathryn Louise – peanut butter cookies
Rainbow – fruit
Eleni – strawberries