When you think of Florida it might be difficult to imagine anything other than Disneyland, golfing and theme parks. But there’s so much more to the Sunshine State than man-made attractions.
With both paved and off-road cycling paths all over the state, coupled with year-round warm weather, Florida is a touring treasure, so consider exploring on two wheels. Not only will you burn some calories in the process, you’ll also get to discover Florida’s natural beauty, including sprawling beaches, nature preserves, and picturesque towns.
Take a ride along these five scenic cycling routes to experience something different from the norm and a whole different side of Florida.
Blackwater Heritage State Trail
The Blackwater Heritage State Trail is a rail-trail taking you through the quaint town of Milton and eight miles north to join the U.S Navy’s Military Heritage Trail, ending up at the Naval Air Station Whiting Field. Get on your bike and ride more than 9-miles through beautiful countryside, crossing several creeks and spotting native wildflowers along the way.
Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail
Running 20.5 miles from Miami to the coastal community of St. Marks, this state trail was once a historic railroad corridor, used to carry cotton from the plantations to the coast, where it was then shipped over to textile mills in England and New England. The trail is paved, perfect for cycling, running, walking and skating. When you reach the southern end of the trail in St. Mark’s you can tuck into a seafood meal in one of the restaurants, or try your hand at catching your own fish.
Virginia Quay Mountain Bike Trail
If you’re staying in Miami, there are still opportunities to escape the fast pace of the city and be surrounded by nature and water. Built on the north end of Virginia Quay by volunteers from the Virginia Key Bike Club, this mountain trail consists of three tracks for all levels; novice, intermediate, and advanced.
Covering a distance of over 20 miles, the Venetian Waterway Park trails combined with The Legacy Trail, form a continuous path from Palmer Ranch in southern Sarasota to the town Venice. You’ll wind up at Caspersen Beach Park, where you can reward yourself with a swim in the ocean and chill out on the sand. The picturesque beach is a great spot for collecting shells and you might be lucky enough find some prehistoric sharks’ teeth.
Cross Florida Greenway/Santos
Last but not least, don’t miss the Cross Florida Greenway, which stretches for 110-miles from the Gulf of Mexico to St. John’s River. At the central part of the greenway you’ll find the Santos Mountain Bike Trails, a network of 80 miles, of off-road trails. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert you’ll be in for a real treat, as this is considered one of the best mountain biking experiences in Florida. There are three levels of difficulty marked by three different colours; red for “expert”, blue for “intermediate” and yellow for “easy”. In addition to bike trails there are hiking and equestrian trails, so you can soak up the scenery on foot or horseback.