Boca Grande Bike Path – Gasparilla Island, Boca Grande – Charlotte & Lee County, Florida

Before You Go:

If you are doing this ride in the early morning hours (before, say, 11AM), then you can probably get by without sunscreen.  As the sun clears the trees on the east side of the trail, you will need sunscreen since there are very few trees lining the western side of the trail.  Also, if you stop for any time along the beaches in Gasparilla Island State Park, you will definitely be in need of sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses (the white, sugar sands are blinding).

Getting There:

I took exit 193 off Interstate 75 and headed south and west on Jacaranda Boulevard.  Jacaranda Boulevard dead-ends at Englewood Road (County Road 776).   Take Englewood Road southeasterly.  It will become first North Indiana and then South Indiana before finally becoming S. McCall Road.  Head south on Placida Road and finally turn onto Boca Grande Causeway.  There is a toll and they do not accept Credit, Debit Cards or SunPass.  I am not aware of any designated trailhead parking.  I simply parked at the first Shopping Center I encountered at the northern end of the trail.

Trail Length

13.6 Miles – From the shopping center just south of Boca Grande Resort to the Port Boca Grande Light and back.  The mileage also includes a ride out to the nearby Boca Grande Fishing Pier.

The Trail

For more information on the trail itself or the community of Boca Grande, check out the links and gallery pictures below.

This is a fairly short trail.  There is a lot to see and do along the trail – take your time and explore this lovely barrier island.  The trail is flat and travels right through the heart of central Boca Grande.  All in all, a fine ride.

Facilities:

  • There are facilities at the Gasparilla Island State Park Beach access located about 2/3rds the way down the trail.

The Cons:

  • Just too short but, what can you do, you only have the length of Gasparilla Island to work with.  🙂
  • The golf carts that everyone uses around the island can be a hindrance at times.

The Pros:

  • The trailbed is in excellent shape.
  • The beautiful Gulf of Mexico beaches.
  • Gasparilla Rear Range Light
  • Port Boca Grande Light.
  • Boca Grande Fishing Pier

Links:

Gasparilla Island State Park

Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce

Send me an email. I would love to hear from you!

Happy Trails ~ John

Nature Coast State Trail – Fanning Springs to Cross City (Loop) – Fanning Springs, Old Town, Cross City – Gilchrist & Dixie County, Florida

Before You Go:

Along the eastern portion of this ride, there is a fair amount of shade.  The western portion, however, has very little shade.  Your riding arsenal should include sunglasses, a good pair of cushioned gloves, sunscreen and, if you are going to spend time exploring around the Suwannee River Bridge, some insect repellant.

Getting There:

This is the last in a three part review of the Nature Coast Trail.  This final installment will start at the Fanning Springs Trailhead.  Travel either north of south on U.S. Highway 19. Head north on Florida Street. The trail head is on the east side of Florida Street.

Trail Length

28.6 Miles – From the Fanning Springs Trailhead out to the western terminus in Cross City and back.

The Trail

For more information on the trail itself or the communities of Fanning Springs, Old Town and Cross City, check out the links and gallery pictures below.

If you missed the first post, click here for a link to Part I.

If you missed the second post, click here for a link to Part II.

As you did in the last section, you will head north out of the Fanning Springs Trailhead.  Keep a lookout for the direction signs that will guide you toward the Suwannee River Bridge, Old Town and Cross City.  Once you are heading due west, you keep on this heading, for the most part, all the way to the western terminus west of Cross City.  This section of the trail was my least favorite but contains one of the most scenic sections along the entire trail.  The Suwannee River Bridge and the views of the Suwannee River are not to be missed.  I must say, the section once you leave the tree lined portions of the trail are a bit monotonous.  There are also a lot of road crossings and quite a bit of traffic once you reach Cross City.  Additionally, there is the ever present traffic along U.S. Highway 19 that parallels the trail for most of the western half of the trail.

It’s a long dusty ride out to Cross City and back.  I would recommend a decent ride from Fanning Springs, out to Trenton, the west to the Suwannee River Bridge and then back to the Fanning Springs Trailhead.

Facilities:

  • There are facilities at the Fanning Springs Trailhead.
  • There are facilities at the Cross City Trailhead.

The Cons:

  • The straight trail may be monotonous to some.
  • The numerous road crossings in and around Cross City.
  • The constant traffic along U.S. Highway 19.

The Pros:

  • The trailbed is in excellent shape.
  • The Suwannee River Bridge and surrounding area.

Links:

Nature Coast State Trail – Office of Greenways & Trails

Nature Coast State Trail – Florida State Parks

Old Town, Florida

Cross City, Florida

Send me an email. I would love to hear from you!

Happy Trails ~ John

Nature Coast State Trail – Fanning Springs to Trenton (Loop) – Fanning Springs, Trenton – Gilchrist County, Florida

Before You Go:

There is long stretches with no shade along this trail so wear sunscreen.  Sunglasses are always a necessity when traveling in Florida; also, a good pair of cycling gloves help cushion your palms.

Getting There:

This is the second of a three part review of the Nature Coast Trail.  This second section and the final installment will both start at the Fanning Springs Trailhead.  Travel either north of south on U.S. Highway 19. Head north on Florida Street. The trail head is on the east side of Florida Street.

Trail Length

17.7 Miles – From the Fanning Springs Trailhead out to the Trenton Trailhead and back.

The Trail

For more information on the trail itself or the communities of Fanning Springs and Trenton, check out the links and gallery pictures below.

If you missed the first post, click here for a link to Part I.

You will head north out of the Fanning Springs Trailhead.  Keep a lookout for the direction signs that will guide you toward Trenton.  Once you are heading due east, you will head arrow straight toward the town of Trenton. Of the three sections, this happened to be my favorite. Perhaps it was the rain shower I encountered or the picturesque town of Trenton. There are a few road crossings but traffic was mostly light. The only traffic is the constant whir of traffic along State Road 26 which parallels most of the ride into Trenton.

The day I rode into the Trenton Trailhead, it was a lively place. It seems to be a social gathering spot for the town.

If you have the time, a stop in the town of Trenton would be worth the time exploring.

Facilities:

  • There are facilities at the Fanning Springs Trailhead.
  • There are facilities at the Trenton Trailhead.

The Cons:

  • The straight trail may be monotonous to some.

The Pros:

  • The trailbed is in excellent shape.
  • Relatively light trail traffic. You won’t be fighting through any crowds.
  • The Trenton community. I found it to be very friendly

Links:

Nature Coast State Trail – Office of Greenways & Trails

Nature Coast State Trail – Florida State Parks

Trenton, Florida

Send me an email. I would love to hear from you!

Happy Trails ~ John

Nature Coast State Trail – Chiefland to Fanning Springs (Loop) – Chiefland, Fanning Springs – Levy & Gilchrist County, Florida

Before You Go:

There is long stretches with no shade along this trail so wear sunscreen.  Sunglasses are always a necessity when traveling in Florida; also, a good pair of cycling gloves help cushion your palms.

Getting There:

This ride will be done in three parts to keep it around the 20 mile mark for each leg.  This first section started at the Chiefland Trailhead. The Trailhead shares space with the Chiefland Chamber of Commerce. Travel either north of south on U.S. Highway 19 (which is Main Street in Cheifland). The trail head is on the southeast corner of the intersection of South Main Street and SE 2nd Avenue.

Trail Length

18.4 Miles – From the Chiefland Trailhead out to the Fanning Springs Trailhead and back.

The Trail

For more information on the trail itself or the communities of Cheifland and Fanning Springs, check out the links and gallery pictures below.

This is your typical Florida rails-to-trails project. The trail is, pretty much, arrow straight between the two major trailheads. There are only two major road crossings and it ends up being the same major highway. You will have to cross U.S. Highway 19 at the Chiefland Trailhead and, again, just south of the Fanning Springs Trailhead.

While there are a lot of road crossings, they are mostly in the immediate Chiefland area. As you progress north and west along the trail, they become fewer and further between. Additionally, traffic along most of the crossings was little to non-existent the morning I rode.

If you have the time, a stop in the Fanning Springs State Park is worth the visit.

Facilities:

  • There are facilities at the Chiefland Trailhead – they were pretty creepy.
  • There are facilities a the Fanning Springs Trailhead – they were locked the morning I rode.

The Cons:

  • The straight trail may be monotonous to some.
  • 15 road crossings (one way – 30 for the whole trip). Most of them in the immediate Chiefland area. They thin out as you head further north and west.

The Pros:

  • The trailbed is in excellent shape.
  • Relatively light trail traffic. You won’t be fighting through any crowds.
  • Saw and heard a lot of bird song along the trail. Cardinals were abundant.

Links:

Nature Coast State Trail – Office of Greenways & Trails
Nature Coast State Trail – Florida State Parks
Fanning Springs State Park – Florida State Parks
Chiefland, Florida
Fanning Springs, Florida

Send me an email. I would love to hear from you!

Happy Trails ~ John

Weaver Park to Clearwater Beach – Dunedin, Clearwater, Clearwater Beach – Pinellas County, Florida

Before You Go:

There is no shade along this trail so wear sunscreen.  You can burn even in the winter months on a clear Florida day.

Getting There:

I began my ride at Weaver Park in Dunedin.  From U.S. Highway 19 (approaching from the north or south), head west on Main street (County Road 580) toward the Gulf of Mexico.  Around Bass Boulevard, Main Street will branch off and head toward the south and west.  Stay on County Road 580 which becomes Skinner Boulevard.  Where Skinner Boulevard intersects Broadway (County Road 595/Alternate Highway 19), head north on Broadway.  Weaver Park will be on your left – there is parking on either side of Alt. 19.

Trail Length

15.88 Miles – From Weaver Park parking on the west side of Alternate Highway 19 south through Dunedin through north Clearwater.  Through downtown Clearwater to the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge.  Out to Clearwater Beach and heading back to the point of origin.

The Trail

Check out the links and gallery pictures below.

If you like being near the water, you will love this ride. It starts at JC Weaver Park just north of downtown Dunedin. You head south to the Dunedin Marina with its fine views of Old Clearwater Bay. Continuing south, you will meander between the shores of Old Clearwater Bay to your west and Edgewater Drive to your east.

Once you cross the bridge at the southern terminus of the Edgewater Trail, Edgewater Drive becomes North Fort Harrison Avenue and you have entered the city of Clearwater. Continue south along Fort Harrison (you will be sharing the roadway with automobiles) and head west on Seminole Street. If you want to make a small detour, there is a marina in the process of being renovated at the western end of Seminole Street.

Head south on North Osceola Avenue, west on Jones Street and then south where Osceola Avenue picks up again. From there, head west on Drew Street which curves to the south to follow the waterfront. There is a trail that runs parallel to Drew Street and crosses under the Clearwater Memorial Causeway bridge.

You will see a spiral ramp that leads up to the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge. A pedestrian/bike trail parallels the bridge on both sides. I would suggest the side connected to the spiral ramp. At certain times of year (spring break comes to mind), it is almost impossible to cross the Causeway. So, the spiral ramp keeps you from the headache of later having to cross congested Clearwater Memorial Causeway.

Be sure to stop at the top of the bridge to see the fine views of the intercoastal and downtown Clearwater. It is an easy ride out to Clearwater Beach from the top of the Causeway Bridge. There are plenty of things to see and do in Clearwater Beach. Check out the link below for more information.

Facilities:

  • There are facilities at Edgewater Park which fronts along the Dunedin Marina

The Cons:

  • This route features sections where there is no designated trail.  You will be sharing the road with other vehicles.
  • If you aren’t in the greatest shape, the climb up the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge could be taxing.
  • The congestion of foot traffic and, traffic in general, around Clearwater Beach.

The Pros:

  • The scenery.
  • The Dunedin Marina.
  • If you are in good shape, the climb up the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge. 🙂
  • The Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge – my love for bridges continues!

Links:

Clearwater Trail Map – Western Section
Dunedin
Clearwater – Coachman Park
Clearwater – Clearwater Beach
 

Send me an email. I would love to hear from you!

Happy Trails ~ John

Ream Wilson Trail – Kapok Park Extension, Clearwater – Pinellas County, Florida

Before You Go:

The trail is a mix of shaded and open space but is relatively short.  If you make this a part of the longer Ream Wilson Trail ride from Long Center to Philippe Park, then you will need sunscreen, sunglasses and the usual helmet and cycling gloves.

Getting There:

The easiest way to get to the Kapok Park Extension is to access it off the Ream Wilson Trail. If that is your plan, here is the link to my Ream Wilson Trail Recap (look for the “Getting There” section).

If you just want to explore this area, the easiest access to the trail is the Glen Oak Avenue Trailhead. From the south, head north on McMullen Booth Road (County Road 611). Turn west onto Terrace View Lane. Terrace View Lane ends at Moss Avenue. Turn north onto Moss Avenue which, in turn, ends at Glen Oak Avenue. Turn west onto Glen Oak Avenue. The street dead ends at the trailhead. Use the map below to zoom in and out to get your bearings.)

Trail Length

1.92 Miles – From the Glen Oak Avenue trailhead out to Stephens Park to the crossing at the main Ream Wilson Trail and back to the Glen Oak Avenue trailhead.

The Trail

Facilities:

  • There were no facilities

The Cons:

  • Nothing of note. The shortness of the trail but that can be remedied by adding this short ride as a sidetrip off the longer main trail (link noted above)

The Pros:

  • The scenery.
  • The wildlife.

As stated elsewhere, this is a small side trip off the main Ream Wilson Trail. It is worth the stop to take in the beautiful surroundings of this lovely preserved area. From what I’ve read, this used to be home to a mobile home park but the city of Clearwater redeveloped the area as a flood control project. Well done!

Links:

Ream Wilson Trail Map – Eastern Section
Kapok Park – City of Clearwater

Send me an email. I would love to hear from you!

Happy Trails ~ John

Ream Wilson Trail-Bayshore Linear Greenway-Philippe Park from Long Center to Philippe Park (Loop) – Clearwater, Safety Harbor, Pinellas County, Florida

Before You Go:

The trail is a mix of shaded and open space.  It only takes 20 minutes of direct sun to get a nice sunburn in Florida.  Sunscreen is recommended for the fair of skin.  Always recommended – helmet, pair of good sunglasses and cushioned gloves.

Getting There:

The starting point for this ride was Long Center in Clearwater located at 1501 North Belcher Road, Clearwater, FL 33765.  It is easily accessible from U.S. Highway 19 approaching from either the north or south.  From the north, head west on Sunset Point Road and then south on Belcher.  From the south, head southwesterly on NE Coachman Road and turn north onto Belcher Road.  Long Center sits about 1/2 way between these two major roads.  It is on the east side of Belcher Road and there is ample parking on the weekends.

Trail Length

15.5 Miles – from Long Center east and north along the Ream Wilson Trail then north along the Bayshore Linear Greenspace in Palm Harbor.  Turning about in Philippe Park to return to the point of origin.

The Trail

Facilities:

  • There are facilities in Long Center
  • There are facilities at the Safety Harbor Marina
  • There are facilities within Philippe Park

The Cons:

  • There are a few sections where the trail width is very narrow especially some of the bridges along the western portion of the trail.
  • There is a 10% grade hill around the entrance to Kapok Park.

The Pros:

  • The scenery in the western portion is heavily wooded and crosses several streams.
  • This isn’t a straight arrow trail.  There is a fair amount of twists and turns along the western portion of the trail.
  • The 10% grade hill that I mentioned as a con above 🙂
  • The views of Old Tampa Bay along the eastern end of the trail as you turn north.
  • Safety Harbor Marina is a perfect rest stop.

This is one of my favorite rides in Pinellas County.  You ride through a variety of ecosystems and the trail has enough turns to keep it interesting.  If you have the time, a side trip through Kapok Park is worth the time and effort.

Links:

Ream Wilson Trail Map – Eastern Section
Bayshore Linear Greenway Recreational Trail

Happy Trails ~ John

Skyway Trail Extension – Maximo Park to Pinellas Trail, St. Petersburg, Gulfport – Pinellas County, Florida

Before You Go:

Except for the start of this trail at Maximo Park, there is no shade along this course.  Bring along sunglasses, sunscreen, a helmet and gloves.  And, during the rainy months, keep your eye to the sky since the weather can deteriorate rapidly.  Insect repellant is also recommended during the rainy season since part of this ride is through the Clam Bayou wetlands.

Getting There:

I began this ride at Maximo Park which is just a bit west of where the southern portion of the Skyway Trail used to end.  To reach Maximo Park, take the Pinellas Point Drive exit off I-275/U.S. Hwy 19 North and head west.  You will pass under I-275/U.S. Hwy 19 North and the park entrance is just after the underpass.

Trail Length

12 Miles – from Maximo Park all the way out to the trail-end where it intersects the Pinellas Trail and back.  If you ride the bicycle trail in Maximo Park and along the permeter roads within the park, the ride will be just a tad over 13 miles.

The Trail

Facilities:

  • There are facilities in Maximo Park.
  • While I didn’t not see them, I sure there are facilities at the Childs Park recreation center.

The Cons:

  • There is virtually no signage along the southern portion of the trail where the Skyway Trail used to end at Pinellas Point Drive and Skyway Lane.
  • There is no dedicated trail space from Pinellas Point Drive until you reach Loggerhead Marina.
  • It is an urban trail so there are quite a few street crossings near the beginning and turnaround portions of the trail.
  • If you ride the bike trail in Maximo Park, the southern end of the trail is in rough shape.
  • The crossing at 22nd Avenue South – use extreme caution.  There is a user activated crossing signal but, the morning I rode through the intersection, some vehicles showed reluctance to stop for the flashing crosswalk signals.

The Pros:

  • The section through Clam Bayou is beautiful.
  • Lots of elevated trailways and bridges spanning Clam Bayou.  It is a nice serpentine course through the bayou.
  • The disc golf course in Maximo Park is fun.
  • Lots of opportunities for bird watching along the trail.  I could hear baby eagles in a nest (picture in the gallery below) and watched their parents tending the eaglettes.

I was disappointed that there was no guidance in linking the old trail end to the newer section.  If you are going to have us share the road with automobiles, at least do us the courtesy of placing some signs directing us to the least traveled course to link up the two trails.  I missed the turnoff that would have saved me a lot of drama crossing the off ramps on I-275 that empty onto 54th Avenue South and having to travel along 54th Avenue South.  For those of you unfamiliar with the area, that is one busy street!

To help avoid this issue for those of you, like me, need some guidance; here is the path from the intersection of Skyway Lane and Pinellas Point Drive South (the old nothern end of the southern section of the trail):

  1. Head east along Pinellas Point Drive South.
  2. Turn north onto 31st Street South.
  3. Turn west onto 58th Avenue South.
  4. You will see a large marina on the south side of 58th Avenue South.
  5. On the west side of the marina, you will see a dedicated trail – follow it around under I-275/U.S. Hwy 19 North.
  6. You will reach a large intersection.  Cross to the north side and head west along 54th Avenue South.
  7. Turn north behind the CVS Pharmacy and continue to enjoy your trip north!

The trail through Clam Bayou is a highlight of this ride.  The Cities of St. Petersburg & Gulfport did an excellent job.  All in all, a very nice ride!!

Links:

St. Petersburg Bicycle Map

An excellent, albeit, short ride in southern St. Petersburg!

Happy Trails ~ John

Skyway Trail – Maximo Park to North Skyway Fishing Pier, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida

Before You Go:

Except for the start of this trail at Maximo Park, there is no shade along this course.  Bring along sunglasses, sunscreen, a helmet and gloves.  And, during the rainy months, keep your eye to the sky since the weather can deteriorate rapidly.

Getting There:

Maximo Park is very near the trail and, currently, there is no charge to park.  It is located in southwestern St. Petersburg.  If you head south on Interstate 275, it is the last exit before you have to pay the toll.  Just follow the signs to the park entrance.

Trail Length

11.3 Miles – from Maximo Park all the way out to the North Skyway Fishing Pier and back.  If you ride around Maximo Park, it ends up just sky of 12 miles.

The Trail

Facilities:

  • There are facilities in Maximo Park.
  • There are facilities at the North Sunshine Skyway Rest Area (north of the North Skyway Fishing Pier).

The Cons:

  • There are really no cons for this ride but, to be picky – it is too short a ride!  Though, I’ve read that they’ve built an extension that I hope to ride this weekend (super excited) 🙂
  • As you head south along the trail, look for a stand of Australian Pines lining the trail.  The roots have grown under the trail and the ride is quite rough through this section.
  • The constant whir of traffic as you parallel Interstate 275/U.S. Highway 19.

The Pros:

  • Gorgeous views of Tampa Bay.
  • The bridges (I love bridges)!  The Grand Dame of bridges in Florida – the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.  A jeweled neckless that spans the throat of Tampa Bay.
  • Diving Pelicans, Comorrants spreading their wings, heron and egrets fishing – the birds throughout this trail are abundant.

This is one of the most beautiful rides in all of Pinellas County.  Breath taking views, abundant wildlife and the nice little climb up and over the Dick Misener Bridge.  Awesome views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge await the rider on the way south while you can see the distant St. Petersburg skyline on the return trip.

Links:

St. Petersburg Bicycle Map

An excellent, albeit, short ride in southern St. Petersburg!

Happy Trails ~ John

 

Pinellas Trail – Mile Marker 7 to 17.5 – St. Petersburg, Largo, Seminole, Pinellas County, Florida

Before You Go:

I always advocate a good pair of biking gloves and a helmet whenever venturing out on your bicycle. As always, in Florida, it is a good idea to wear sunscreen.

Getting There:

This trek begins at the intersection of Tyrone Boulevard/Bay Pines Boulevard and Park Street North. The best place to park is the southwest corner of the Target parking lot (north side of Bay Pines Boulevard).

Trail Length

21.4 Miles from Mile Marker 7 to the Belleview Biltmore sign at the intersection of Belleview Boulevard (County Road 233) and Clearwater largo Road North and back.

The Trail

Facilities:

  • Target has restrooms and water at the start of this trek.
  • The KOA Campground at 95th Street North has an area, near the entrance, that caters to cyclists.
  • Seminole City Park has restrooms, picnic pavillions and water.
  • Taylor Park, at 8th Avenue SW has picnic pavillions, restrooms and water.
  • The McDonalds, at the West Bay Drive Overpass seem to be accommodating were cyclists are concerned.

The Cons:

  • Like the trek to downtown St. Petersburg, there are many street crossings since this is a trail running through the most densely populated county in Florida.
  • If you don’t like the extra exertion, the 5 overpasses in this section can become tedious.

The Pros:

  • Relatively flat course. The only climbs are the overpasses across major thoroughfares.
  • If you like the climbs, the 5 overpasses in this section of the trail.
  • The bridge across Long Bayou that runs parallel to Bay Pines Boulevard just west of the Target.

Except for the Long Bayou bridge, the Seminole City Park and Taylor Park, there isn’t a lot of scenery to stop and enjoy along the way.  The scenery, for the most part, is made up of back yards, fences and the occassional bit of green space.  For those wanting a steady cadence, this section will disappoint since there are 17 roads crossings.

Take extra caution at the County Road 296 (102nd Avenue North) crossing.  It has a traffic control device and I would recommend waiting for the green light.  Also, the crossing of Walsingham Road should be taken with care since this is a very busy road with no option for cross traffic to stop.  Finally, the Rosery Road NW crossing should be taken with care also – very busy.

All in all, a fine trail for the casual cyclist.

Happy Trails ~ John