Best Rails To Trails In Florida

Ava Flores
• Tuesday, 22 December, 2020
• 7 min read

Special acknowledgment: Ken Bryan, RTC's Florida State Director and Senior Strategist for External Relations The very name conjures up lush natural areas rich in wildlife, sandy beaches and seashells, and vibrant cities bursting with attractions.

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(Source: www.alltrails.com)


Florida's Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail | Photo by Trailing user gmquesadaForming an arc from St. Petersburg north past Tarpon Springs and inland to East Lake, the nearly 50-mile Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail allows travelers to experience the charms of Florida’s western shore, with Gulf Coast views and an enjoyable mix of urban waterfront and quaint downtown. Pedal to nearby Honeymoon Island State Park for a delightful dip in the water and a nature walk through pine flat woods.

Dear, alligators, tortoises, wild turkeys and many other animals inhabit the landscapes that the paved pathway rolls through, including sand hills, wetlands, cypress forests and groves of long leaf pine. History buffs can also enjoy a peek into the past with railroad whistle markers, the Lake Henderson Trestle and a restored 1925 caboose.

Midway along the trail, the Camp Milton Historic Preserve, the site of one of Florida’s most significant Civil War fortifications, offers a place to learn about local history and stroll the grounds, with a nature path and boardwalk. This diverse pathway connects small communities and suburban neighborhoods northwest of Orlando, yet offers ample opportunities for viewing wildlife along the way.

The route stretches 22 miles from Oakland to Apopka and is anchored on its southern end by Hillary Station, a modern take on an old-time train depot. Van Fleet State Trail | Photo by Trailing user keithsnyder30In Florida’s rural center, the General James A.

Van Fleet State Trail provides a scenic trip through bottom land forest, cattle ranch land and the Green Swamp, a massive protected expanse teeming with wildlife. The experience on the 29-mile paved pathway can easily be combined with other outdoor activities that abound around it, including horseback riding on the paralleling equestrian track, hunting in the Green Swamp and paddling in the adjacent Withlacoochee, Hillsborough and Peace rivers.

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Florida's Legacy Trail | Photo by Laura Startle Legacy Trail, perched on Florida’s west coast, has a splendid opening: the Historic Venice Train Depot, a Mediterranean Revival-style building dating back to 1927 and once considered the finest station on the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. The pleasant route offers passage through lush corridors of tall trees, bridges over picturesque wetlands and easy access to city centers.

Despite its short length, the palm-tree-lined pathway serves as a major connector, linking parks, beaches, hotels, and shopping and dining areas. This 225-mile Miami LOOP is a world-class trail network project in Miami-Dade County that will take the region to new levels of transportation, health, and economic and environmental resiliency.

Ghana Tomato Stanzas National Estuaries Research Reserve Length: 9.2 mi • Est. Lake Monroe Westside Park Length: 6.5 mi • Est.

Planned to reach more than 26 miles, the paved, multipurpose path is ideal for walkers, joggers, skaters, bicyclists and people with disabilities. Accessibility: The trail surface is paved, smooth, and typically at least six feet wide.

The grade is gentle (all estimated under 3%) so most wheelchair and stroller users will likely be able to traverse this trail. Pinellas TrailTarpon Springs, Florida Length: 45.1 mi • Est.

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(Source: www.baltimoresun.com)

A pleasant urban paved trail with waterfront views and artistic displays. Accessibility: The trail surface is paved asphalt, smooth, and typically at least six feet wide.

The estimated grade is gentle (all 3% or less) so most wheelchair/mobility equipment and stroller users will likely be able to navigate the trail. Accessibility: The trail surface is paved and typically at least eight feet wide.

The grade is gentle (all estimated under 3%) so most wheelchair and stroller users will likely be able to traverse this trail. Escape the crowds and theme parks for a day and enjoy Florida's premier rail trail for over 46 miles of pure pleasure.

When most people think of Florida, they think of theme parks, beaches, and citrus groves. The Withlacoochee State Trail runs through abandoned orange groves and through communities that have seen booms and busts and remained true to the spirit of the south.

So when it comes to biking, hiking, horseback riding, or inline skating, it's ideal for all ranges of fitness; but it's especially suited to families. Accessibility: The trail surface is paved and typically at least eight feet wide.

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(Source: www.pinterest.com)

The grade is gentle (all estimated under 2%) so most wheelchair and stroller users will likely find this trail navigable. (Camp Milton portion is CLOSED) Accessibility: This asphalt, concrete, and wooden boardwalk trail is estimated to typically be at least 7 feet wide.

The slope is gentle and estimated to range from -2% (downhill) to 2% (uphill) grade. There is at least 1 ADA-compliant car parking spot with an access aisle at the small paved trailhead lot.

Accessibility: The trail surface is paved and typically at least eight feet wide. The estimated grade is gentle (all 3% or less) so this trail will likely be navigable for most wheelchairs/mobility equipment or strollers.

Camp Murphy Trail Jonathan Dickinson State Park Length: 7.1 mi • Est. The Camp Murphy Trails at Jonathan Dickson State Park are maintained by volunteers.

Additional features: pump track, skills course, and a children's trail. Nearby roads and paved trails in the park are suitable for any type of bike.

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(Source: www.southdakotamagazine.com)

South Lake TrailGroveland, Florida Length: 25.1 mi • Est. A pleasant paved trail shared by bikers, runners, walkers, and dogs that goes through Clermont and Minnesota.

Accessibility: The trail surface is paved asphalt and typically at least eight feet wide. Several dozen trails, converted from abandoned railroad beds, are remarkable examples of adaptive reuse that enrich communities and support the environment.

The southern end terminates outside the town of Polk City, and you can reward yourself with a hearty meal at one of the casual, country eateries in proximity along Route 33. While an undeviating 29.2-mile-long path may sound monotonous, the densely forested northern section cuts through what remains of the great Green Swamp, and several rustic plank bridges span wide creeks.

The only sounds that broke the silence of this sylvan serenity were rustling leaves, trilling bird calls and the hum of my tires. Stretching between St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs for 34 miles, this heavily utilized rail-trail links cities and towns with an attractive recreational corridor.

The trail is popular among locals, so you're likely to encounter dozens of people biking, walking, jogging and rollerblading in densely populated neighborhoods. Park rangers and volunteers patrol the trail, answer questions and offer travel pointers.

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Numerous cross-streets in downtown areas mean dealing with more traffic than on most rail- trails, but there's an agreeable trade-off: An abundance of shops, restaurants and coffeehouses are always close. Buses equipped with bike racks enable cyclists to move about Pinellas and adjacent counties easily and efficiently.

To navigate the trail with confidence, pick up a free guidebook issued by The Pinellas County Planning Department. In fact, traversing the entire 16 miles of the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad Trail is akin to time-travel: Starting amidst the urban amenities of the modern state capital, you gradually slide into the past as the trail rolls along ancient forests and picturesque rural towns.

Heading south for less than a mile and a half leads to the Apalachicola National Forest and the entrance to the Manson Hills Off-Road Bike Trail. Work up a good appetite before arriving in St. Marks: Several locally renowned seafood joints offer phenomenal fresh catfish.

The fully paved 16-mile trail begins at Boulder Springs Park and Historic Waterworks, the site of Gainesville's first settlement. Gracefully arched plank bridges span several creeks along the countryside route, and informative markers provide details on the area's rich history of plantations, citrus groves and cattle ranches.

With my binoculars, I spotted several great herons and egrets, but the most dramatic encounter occurred directly in front of me when a large buck and a fox stood frozen in a mid-trail standoff. After exploring the park's 30 miles of hiking, biking and horse trails, climb the 50-foot observation tower and simply enjoy the view.

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Yet trailside amenities encompass every quintessential Florida pleasure, from shopping and dining to exploring historic sites and beach combing. A prodigious number of wild iguanas inhabit the island; you'll quickly become accustomed to the startling sight of exotic critters scampering across the trail.

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