Saturday, February 18, 2012

Biking Tampa's Upper Tampa Bay Trail

The Upper Tampa Bay Trail winds through the suburb of Citrus Park on a former railroad grade, and alongside a recently constructed drainage canal named Channel A Waterway, for about 7.5 miles.  
I began at the Peterson Road Park trailhead.  The route first traverses what reminds one of a rural locale, not the large metropolitan area you are in, because  you observe livestock grazing behind fences. Then after a few short residential sections, you ride along Gunn Highway, and then you pass over it on a towering and impressive overpass for bikes and pedestrians. A brief section then parallels the Veteran’s Toll Road and passes several parks. Here's a photo of the route (click to enlarge)...

The trail on the Thursday I rode here was well populated with runners, dog walkers, bladers, and bikers, including serious road bikers out on speed runs.  This wide, paved trail is in good repair and mostly well marked with signage.  The exception is a right turn just past the bridge over Rocky Creek which is marked only as going to Channel Park tralhead, but it is actually  the main branch of the trail.  If you miss this turn as I did, you next come to an intersection where a right turn takes you to Wilsky Road trailhead, and beyond that, you arrive at Linebaugh Road. 

In an emergency, there are numbers painted on the pavement listing “911” and then a number to give denoting where you are on the trail.

After passing along two sides of a closed landfill hill, the trail takes you under a highway, under a railroad track, and over this creek, then through some woods, and ultimately ends at Old Memorial trailhead.  Along the route you’ll find numerous signs giving information about the area, the flood control features, etc.

As you can see from the map above, there are plans to extend the north section to meet the Suncoast Trail, and extend the south end to reach the gulf.

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