Friday, February 24, 2012

Biking Florida's Sanibel Island

Sanibel is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico just off Ft. Myers, with a population of about 6000 people. For over 30 years, its residents have successfully fought to balance development with conservation/ preservation ethics, and as a result, over half the island is dedicated to wildlife refuges, including the large "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  Nearly all the roads on the island have adjacent bike/pedestrian paths and at least two businesses rent bikes.  This photo shows a typical bike path...

The Darling refuge has a four mile wildlife road which is a sort of paved road, but with a very rough surface and not real conducive to road bikes (even I was jarred a bunch on a suspension mountain bike.)  This road is open to card and also bikers at a nominal cost, but there is also a two mile crushed gravel bike trail that parallels it and is free.  You can then return the same way you came and exit, or take a side trail over to the auto road and finish your ride on the "paved" trail at no cost.  This auto road is one-way so you must return to town via the bike trail path that runs along the road that borders the refuge. Below is a photo of the "paved" road alongside one of the waterways.

One of my favorite segments of trail was the Rabbit Road section which doesn't abut a roadway but rather runs behind some lovely houses and through beautiful vegetation as seen below.

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