Saturday, February 28, 2009

Biking Florida's Nature Coast State Trail

Florida's "Nature Coast" is one of the least developed sections of Florida, encompassing the northernmost Gulf Coast area from above Clearwater to the Ochlockonee Bay and covers nine counties with over 980,000 acres. Native American sites, wildlife parks, antique shoppes, antebellum homes, and pioneer museums dot the coast from Pasco County to Ochlockonee Bay in Wakulla County. The area is home to west Indian manatee, Florida black bear, bald eagle, Florida sand hill crane, red cockaded woodpecker, least tern, gopher tortoise, Florida panther and many other mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

The Nature Coast State Trail runs for 32 paved miles in three spurs. We parked at the Fanning Springs trailhead right along Highway 19/27/89, just north of the intersection with highway 26. It is a gravel lot. This is the view from the parking lot...

If you bike to your left, you reach a spur after a mile or so. To the right, the trail follows close to Highway 26 to Trenton. If you take the left spur, you pass over the Suwannee River via an old railroad trestle, seen here. This spur is the most scenic.

If you bike across 19/27, you pedal 9 miles to Chiefland and the photo below summarizes the whole ride -- very nice trees lining both sides, blocking most views of the Old Fanning Road on the one side.

Like all of Florida's rail-trails, it is wide, paved, in good condition, and provides shaded rest benches every so often as seen below. After the strenuous and concentration-intense singletrack mountain biking in the Ocala National Forest last week, this easy, flat, paved trail provided a nice respite and recovery ride.

More info on the trail can be found here.


Charles said...

Great info Chuck. I just started riding on Florida paved trails. Boy I love it. Quiet and scenic they are. I hope to make it to this trail in 2011. All the best.

Charles Rinehart said...

Chuck I made it to the Nature Coast Trail in June 2012, and started my ride from the Old Town trailhead. I rode to Fanning Springs. I loved the old railroad bridge over the Suwannee River. A great photo-op there. I always run out of time when I visit paved trails so I'll have to make another visit here soon. Always a fantastic blog from you. I enjoy. Take care.