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

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 Pop Stansell Memorial Park to Keystone Road, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Pinellas County, Florida

Before You Go:

Normal Florida cycling gear is always recommended – a helmet, a good pair of sunglasses, sunscreen and a pair of cushioned cycling gloves.  For this leg, if you do the side trek through Wall Springs Park, insect repellant is recommended.

Getting There:

I began this leg at the H. S. “Pop” Stansell Memorial Park (ain’t that a mouth full) in Palm Harbor.  The easiest way to get to the park is by heading either north or south (depending on your location) on U. S. Highway 19 and turning west on Tampa Road.  From Tamp Road, continue west until you reach Palm Harbor Boulevard (also known as ALT US 19 & County Road 595).  Head north on Palm Harbor Boulevard for approximately one mile and turn west onto Florida Avenue.  Florida Avenue’s western end is the “Pop” Stansell Memorial Park entrance.

Trail Length

16 miles according to the GPX file that marks the route on the map.  You can increase the length of this ride by including the ride through Walll Springs Park or by starting the ride further to the south (south of H. S. “Pop” Stansell Memorial Park – Palm Harbor).

The Trail

Facilities:

  • There are facilities at “Pop” Stansell Memorial Park in Palm Harbor (the starting point for this leg).
  • There are facilities at Wall Springs Park adjacent to the trail.
  • There are facilities within North Anclote River Nature Park as well as the entrance to the park on Dixie Highway.

The Cons:

  • For the serious cyclist, the road crossings will probably be an annoyance.  Take extra care at the Klosterman Road crossing as you enter Tarpon Springs.  Although the intersection is traffice controlled, many people coming up from the south and turning east onto Klosterman do not necessarily stop for cyclists.
  • If you are even slightly taxed by even small climbs, be aware that there are small inclines as you progress toward Tarpon Springs and near the turnaround point at Keystone Road.  The terrain is a little more “raised” – can’t really call these hills *grin*.
  • The crossing of Tarpon Avenue in Tarpon Springs.  It is better now, though, since they installed a blinking signal that can be activated by users of the trail.  Though, the morning I crossed, crossing traffic seemed oblivious to the blinking signals.  Exercise caution!  Still a dangerous crossing even with the added cross signals.

The Pros:

  • The small rises, mentioned above, also a “pro” since it is welcome change from the relatively flat terrain to the south and west.
  • Wall Springs Park, with its spring fed water and views of Boggy Bayou are a highlight. Link follows below this section.
  • Also in Wall Springs Park, the observation tower offers great views of the surrounding park.
  • The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary.  I was fortunate enough to grab a picture of one of its residents.  You can see him (or her) in the upper right corner of the picture in the gallery below (click on the picture to see a larger version).  Consider a donation to this worthy organization.  There is a link to their website below.
  • The road underpasses are unique to this area of Florida since the water table is relatively high.  Another pro is they finally cleaned out the bats that inhabited the underpasses for a couple of years!
  • The section through Tarpon Springs is a great spot for stopping for a bite to eat or just to relax.

There is quite a bit to see and do along this stretch of the Pinellas Trail. From the eccletic eating experiences in Tarpon Springs, to the wonders of the nature world awaiting at Wall Springs Park, there is something for every cycling level along the Pinellas Trail.

Links:
Suncoast Primate Sanctuary
Wall Springs Park

Always a pleasure riding the Pinellas Trail!

Happy Trails ~ John

 

Pinellas Trail Mile Marker 17.5 to 28 – Belleair, Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Pinellas County, Florida

Before You Go:

Except for the Dunedin Trailhead, there are no designated facilities along this section of the trail.  There are, however, some stores adjacent to the trail as you travel through Clearwater.  As always, I advocate a good pair of biking gloves to relieve palm pressure and a helmet whenever venturing out on your bicycle.  Whenever traveling outdoors in Florida for any lenght of time, it is a good idea to wear sunscreen.

Getting There:

Since I rode this on the weekend, I parked at an office complex just off Alternate 19 near the Belleaire Golf Course & Country Club.  Zoom  in on the map below to find your best starting point and to get your bearings.

Trail Length

20.1 miles according to the GPX file that marks the route on the map.  I believe I mismarked the turnaround point – the length should be 21 miles.

The Trail

Facilities:

  • The Dunedin Trailhead has water and restrooms along with a wealth of restaurants along Main Street.
  • There is a 7-11 adjacent to the trail just south of downtown Clearwater.
  • At the intersection of the trail and Curlew Road (County Road 586), there is a McDonalds at the northwest side of the intersection and a large shopping plaza just behind the McDonalds.

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.
  • The route through downtown Clearwater. At least they did make an improvement by moving the trail off the sidewalks and onto a designated portion of the road.

The Pros:

  • The view of St. Josephs Sound from the overpass at Alternate 19 (just north of the Curlew Road intersection mentioned above).
  • Dunedin – no community seems to have embraced the Pinellas Trail like this picturesque community.
  • A small bridge just before the Stephenson Avenue crossing – you get your first glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico just west of the trail.

The section starting from Dunedin and all points north of there are my absolute favorite part of the trail.  Being such a nice section, it is also a very heavily used part of the trail.  You will encounter a lot of joggers, in-line skaters and fellow cyclists.

As nice as the Dunedian, at north, section of the trail is; I can’t say the same for the section through Clearwater.  Watch some of the road crossing south of downtown.  Some of the gutters are deep “V” shaped and, if you hit them the right way, are fairly bone jarring.  It just is not a pleasant route through downtown.  I truly believe they did the best job they could accommodating the trail.

Always a pleasure riding the Pinellas Trail!

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

Pinellas Trail – Mile Marker 7 to Demens Landing (downtown St. Petersburg spur) – St. Petersburg, Gulfport, Pinellas County, Florida

Before You Go:

There isn’t a lot of shade along this route. Depending on the season, you might need to apply sunscreen. Also, during the warm, humid months, you might want to consider some insect repellant if you intend to stop for any length of time along the trail.

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 Miles from Mile Marker 7 to Demens Landing in downtown St. Petersburg and back.

The Trail

Facilities:

  • Target has restrooms and water at the start of this trek.
  • Demens Landing has restroom and water facilities.

The Cons:

  • There are many street crossings since this is a trail running through the most densely populated county in Florida.
  • When riding through downtown St. Petersburg, you share the same side of the road coming and going.  When you are heading back traveling against vehicular traffic, it can be a little disconcerting.
  • If you don’t enjoy climbs, you will not like the climbs up the overpasses along the trail.  If you are of average health, though, you should have no problem as they aren’t particularly taxing.
  • The pass through the old St. Petersburg Times shipping facility is creepy at best – I would not recommend sight seeing around this area.

The Pros:

  • Relatively flat course.  The only climbs are the overpasses across major thoroughfares.
  • The St. Petersburg waterfront at Demens Landing
  • Tropicana Field – current home to the Tampa Bay Rays major league baseball team
  • A fine view of the St. Petersburg Pier.  See this iconic landmark before it is leveled to make way for a new tourist destination.

Since this is my first post, please feel free to leave a comment below on what additional information I can provide or helpful information I can add.  Be sure to check out the Gallery Pictures below!

 

Happy Trails ~ John