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Florida may be one of the flattest states in America, but it’s still home to plenty of incredible trails for cycling. Whether you’re on vacation with your family, a beginner cyclist exploring your options, or an advanced biker training for your next event, there’s a little something for everyone in Florida. Here are ten of the best places to cycle in the Sunshine State.
1. General James A. Van Fleet State Trail – Polk City, FL
Want to get away from the city and experience rural Florida on your bike? The General James A. Van Fleet State Trail is the perfect way to do it, whether you’re riding solo, with a group, or with your family.
One of Florida’s most rural, paved trails, the Van Fleet State Trail is a former railroad that runs 29.2 miles from Polk City to Mabel on State Route 50. It’s a primarily flat and straight route (with one minor curve) and features the scenic wetlands and wildlife that Florida is best known for. This trail runs through the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve, and you’ll breeze through a variety of landscapes as you go, including the river swamp, bottomland forest, pine flatwoods, and cattle ranches.
You can use four different trailheads to access the General James A. Van Fleet State Trail:
- Polk City station trailhead: At the intersection of Route 33 and Route 655/Berkley Road
- Green Pond trailhead: 4903 Green Pond Rd, Polk City, FL 33868
- Bay Lake trailhead: 7500 South Bay Lake Rd, Groveland, FL 34736
- Mabel trailhead: 12201 Co Rd 772, Webster, FL 33597
Tips: This trail is kid and dog-friendly, so watch your speed and be aware of your surroundings. There are also benches, picnic tables, and a bathroom along the route, making it great for families. You can choose to bike it slowly and soak in all the rural sights or ride briskly and use it for time trial training. It’s up to you!
2. Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail – St. Petersburg, FL
The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is one of Florida’s most popular urban trails, stretching about 50 miles from St. Petersburg north to Tarpon Springs. This route was inducted into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2007, and eventually, it will expand into a 75-mile loop through Pinellas County.
If you start this ride in St. Petersburg, you’ll cross over dozens of pedestrian bridges within the first 15 miles, which offer expansive views of the urban landscape. The trail stretches through Largo, Clearwater, and Dunedin, where you can stop and enjoy the shops and restaurants too. If you want to check out some coastal scenery, you can also take a quick detour to the Gulf of Mexico, which is just a couple blocks away from the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail in Dunedin. (Totally worth it, in our opinion!) The Bayshore Boulevard pedestrian bridge in Palm Harbor also offers plenty of beautiful gulf views as you continue riding.
If you start the trail in St. Petersburg, you can park along 1st Avenue on the south side of Pioneer Park. Or, you can begin your ride at the John Chesnut Sr. Park, where there is plenty of parking. The Pinellas County website also offers detailed maps of the trail on its website here.
Tips: This trail is not ideal for fitness riding and uninterrupted cycling. You’ll have to stop at many crossroads for safety, so if you want to ride without stopping, you’ll be better off riding somewhere else.
3. East Central Regional Rail Trail – Volusia and Brevard Counties, FL
Just recently completed in 2021, the East Central Regional Rail Trail stretches 52 miles between DeBary and Edgewater. A popular route for commuting cyclists and recreational riders, this trail is a part of the 250-mile Florida Coast to Coast Trail (listed above) and the 260-mile St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop.
The East Central Regional Rail Trail is popular with many Florida cyclists with both urban scenery and remote rural landscape. And if you’re a road biker, you might enjoy the many rural straightaways this biking route offers. A moderately challenging ride, this trail offers a peaceful and scenic adventure through east-central Florida and features plenty of amazing wildlife native to the area. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed, recreational ride or you’re in it for the miles and speed, the East Central Regional Rail Trail has something for every rider.
There are many different places to start or end your ride on this trail, depending on what sections you want to bike, how many miles you want to ride, and what type of scenery you prefer. To decide how you want to cycle this route, the best way to start planning is to look at a map. This one is great.
Tips: This is a long trail with minimal shade in some areas, so it’s best to bring extra water, sunscreen, and consider biking in during the cooler months of the year. There is also a bike shop in downtown Titusville where you can rent a bike if you need to.
4. West Orange Trail – Winter Garden, FL
Another popular rail-trail in the Sunshine State, the West Orange Trail, is a 22-mile route just about 20 minutes from Orlando. Perfect for cyclists who are training or just out to enjoy a leisurely ride, the West Orange Trail is a smooth route that’s well-marked throughout.
The northern end of the trail is in Apopka, and it winds its way through rural and suburban landscapes as it curves through the historic towns of Oakland and Winter Garden. As you bike through Oakland, you’ll find that the Oakland Nature Preserve is right off the trail, which is a great place to stop, explore, and check out the views on Lake Apopka. To extend your adventure another 9.5 miles, keep biking once you reach the end of the West Orange Trail at Killarney Station. You’ll hit the South Lake Trail, which connects to the Lake Minneola Scenic Trail and offers more scenic views of Lake Minneola. This section of the trail is also popular among training cyclists.
To access the West Orange Trail, head to 501 Crown Point Cross Road in Winter Garden. If you need to rent a bike, you can do so at Killarney Station in Oakland (17914 SR 438, Winter Garden, FL 34787) or Winter Garden Station (455 E. Plant St., Winter Garden, FL 34787).
Tips: If you cycle this route with kids, there’s a recreational area along the trail at Chapin Station, complete with a playground, picnic tables, and a koi pond. There are plenty of other amenities along the way too.
5. Santos – Ocala, FL
If you’re looking for some of the best mountain biking in Florida, look no further than Santos. Santos is the biggest and best-known mountain biking park in the Ocala area. With more than 80 miles of single-track bike trails for beginner, intermediate, and advanced cyclists, Santos is a well-maintained trail system through a partnership with the Ocala Mountain Bike Association.
The various trails at Santos can be flat, rocky, and steep at times, with plenty of wooden features along the way where you can show off your technical skills. Santos also has an advanced freeride area located around two abandoned limestone mining pits, which offers some extreme challenges for even the most advanced cyclists that come out for a ride.
The Santos trailhead is just west of U.S. 441 on Southeast 80th Street, between Ocala and Belleview, and across from the Marion County Sheriff’s Santos Station.
Tips: Santos is home to an extensive network of trails, so it’s easy to get lost if you’ve never been there before (or even if you have). Make sure you bring a map and compass with you, just in case! To make an overnight trip out of your mountain biking adventure, consider camping at the Santos Campground, adjacent to the trailhead. The sites there are equipped with water and electricity.
6. Egans Creek Greenway – Fernandina Beach, FL
Egans Creek Greenway is a true gem for nature-loving cyclists. One of the natural wonders of Amelia Island, this network of trails features grass-covered roads that are easy for walkers and bikers to enjoy as they take in the local wildlife around them.
The greenway is a protected area of more than 300 acres that runs north to south along Egans Creek. While you’re cycling, you’re bound to see lots of local wildlife, including alligators, bobcats, snakes, and beautiful birds like egrets, osprey, and blue herons. The trail is very well marked, with benches along the way and restrooms at the trailhead. Overall, the Egans Creek Greenway is a fantastic, convenient, and relaxing ride through an eclectic sampling of Florida’s local wildlife and vegetation.
To access the greenway, head to the trailhead located behind the Atlantic Recreation Center at 2500 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034.
Tips: People who bike and walk this trail frequently complain about the bugs, so don’t forget to bring some bug spray. You’ll need it! Otherwise, keep to the course and don’t disturb any wildlife you encounter.
7. Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail – Florida Keys
The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail features more than 90 miles of paved trail from Key Largo to Key West. The route runs parallel to U.S. Highway 1 and offers cyclists a fun and scenic way to explore the Florida Keys. With an elevation gain of about 50 feet, this trail might be flat, but it’s known for its phenomenal wildlife watching and views.
While you bike the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, you’ll pass over 23 of the historic Flagler Railroad bridges, which are more than 100 years old. This trail also provides easy access to tons of amazing points of interest along the route, including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Biscayne National Park, and more. Since this is a car-free tree, you can really enjoy all the incredible wildlife along the way. Many bikers report seeing dolphins, alligators, tropical fish, turtles, and many seabirds while they ride.
To access this trail, head to 9700 Old State Road 4a, Key Largo, FL 33037, or visit floridastateparks.org for directions.
Tips: There’s limited shade on this trail so bring plenty of sunscreen, especially if you ride it during the summer.
8. Blackwater Heritage State Trail – Milton, FL
The Blackwater Heritage State Trail in West Florida spans about 9.6 miles of a paved trail that follows the route of an old railroad that stopped running in the 1930s. This is an easy ride through flat rural and urban areas, and the visitor center about a mile from the trailhead in Milton has plenty of parking, bathrooms, and even a playground for the kiddos.
This trail is very flat, well-maintained, and offers beautiful views of the Florida countryside. It’s ideal for beginner cyclists, but even experienced bikers will enjoy it too. As you explore this trail, you’re bound to enjoy the natural scenery dotted with wildflowers and take in the sights as you pedal over wooden bridges that cross quiet streams. The trail ends at the gates of Naval Air Station Whiting Field.
To bike this trail starting at the Milton trailhead, you’ll need to go to 5533 Alabama Street, Milton, FL 32570. Or, if you’d like to start at the Whiting Field trailhead, it’s a few miles north of the CR 87A/CR 191 intersection.
Tips: Several street crossings can get busy with traffic, so watch and be cautious when you cross. Equestrians may also use the paved trail or unpaved shoulder. Lastly, if you need any repairs or last-minute supplies, there is a bicycle shop conveniently close to the Milton trailhead.
9. Courtney Campbell Trail – Clearwater and Tampa, FL
The Courtney Campbell Trail offers gorgeous scenic panoramic views of Upper Tampa Bay and provides a safe way to bike between Clearwater and Tampa. The 9.5-mile trail runs along the south side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway, so although you are parallel to the highway, there is no vehicular danger, and wide barriers and bridges protect you from the road.
This biking route runs from the Veterans Expressway in Tampa to Bayshore Boulevard in Clearwater. Along the way, you’ll cross over two bridges with excellent views, including a 45-foot-high bridge about midway through the trail. One of the more popular trails in Florida, the Courtney Campbell Trail is a favorite of many cyclists.
You can park along the Courtney Campbell Causeway to access the trail, but availability will likely be minimal on weekends. Instead, there is parking on either side of the course at 294 Bayshore Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33759 and 7740 W. Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa (at Ben T. Davis Beach).
Tips: Since you’ll be biking entirely over water, you won’t have any nice trees to rely on for shade, and it can get pretty windy, so be prepared for that! (Cyclists recommend biking into the wind on the way out and returning with the wind at your back.) The trail also connects to nearby popular biking trails, including the Pinellas Trail and the Duke Energy Trail via Clearwater’s Ream Wilson East-West Trail.
10. Coast to Coast Trail – Titusville to St. Petersburg, FL
Florida’s Coast to Coast (C2C) Trail is an outstanding biking destination that will eventually feature about 250 miles of biking trails. Several miles of trail are missing between the east and west ends, so if you want to bike the entirety of this long-distance bike path in Central Florida, you’ll have to arrange a shuttle or fill in the gaps by cycling rural roads.
Several different trail segments contribute to the overall Coast to Coast Trail route, but the entire ride is paved. Some of these individual trail segments are listed elsewhere in this article, but many cyclists tackle the whole route so they can get the full experience. Indeed, by riding across the entire state of Florida, you’ll get to experience much more of what the Sunshine State has to offer!
Traveling east to west on the trail, here are the various trails that make up Florida’s Coast to Coast Trail route:
- Space Coast Trail
- East Central Regional Rail Trail
- Spring to Spring Trail
- Seminole/Volusia Link (bridge over St. Johns River)
- Cross Seminole Trail
- Seminole Wekiva Trail
- Clarcona-Ocoee Connector Trail
- West Orange Trail
- South Lake Trail
- Van Fleet Trail
- Withlacoochee State Trail
- Good Neighbor Trail
- Good Neighbor Connector
- Suncoast Trail
- Starkey Wilderness Trail
- Starkey Gap Trail
- Tri-County Trail
- Pinellas Trail
Tips: If you decide to cycle the entire Coast to Coast Trail, there are plenty of places to camp along the way, but you’ll want to call in advance to reserve a site. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the ride!
DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia CommonsPhilipp Michel Reichold., CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia CommonsEbyabe, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia CommonsBeyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia CommonsTrougnouf, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia CommonsNational Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia CommonsU.S. Navy photo by Julie Ziegenhorn, Public domain, via Wikimedia CommonsGregory Urbano from St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia CommonsPhilipp Michel Reichold, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons