Friday, March 2, 2012

Biking Plantation Canal Trail

Plantation, Florida, is located in central Broward County west of Ft. Lauderdale, with a population over 85,000. This wide, well-paved concrete trail follows a canal for 7 1/2 miles, starting at University Drive heading west to just past Markham Park.  This photo pretty much shows the whole story.  As you head west, you have homes, a few businesses, or a wall of shrubbery on your right, and the canal and I-595 on your left.  I also saw an otter dart across the trail and then into his home on the bank of the canal.

What the photo doesn't show is the road crossings, five of which are major roads requiring you to cross the canal in order to cross the road using the traffic signals.  Each road also has exit and entrance ramps to the expressway, so be careful of turning drivers who aren't necessarily watchful for bikers.

At mile 7 you pass Markham Park, a lovely and quite large amenity with playground, picnic tables, a model airplane flying field (I stopped and enjoyed a marvelous demo of an RC helicopter doing unimaginable spins and twists and loops), a swimming facility, a large campground, a shooting range, and a mountain bike venue (which I shall return to explore next time I vacation down here.)  And there's probably more in this park, too.  It would also be a good place to start your ride.

Just west of the park, you'll see this green fence...

From a distance it looks like a fence, but it is real 2 staggered gates to impede motor vehicles, I presume.  Bikes can easily negotiate between them. The trail is then asphalt and a bit narrower, and soon turns right and takes you to a gravel/dirt ramp up to the top of a levee which is open for biking if you have a mountain bike or hybrid/crossover bike. I went 3 miles and have no idea how much farther it goes.  To the right is another canal, and on the far side you'll see the park campground for about a mile and hear the shooting range.  Another expressway then appears farther to the east.  On your left (west) is Everglades Wildlife Management and Water Conservation Area.  You'll probably see egrets and heron here (as I did) and perhaps other wildlife.

While not a wonderfully attractive ride, it does offer some mileage, the amenities of the park, and the levee trail with wildlife viewing opportunities. But be aware: you will be in the sun for the entire ride, paved and unpaved.

Markham Park on the west end would be a good trailhead parking area.

On the east, head for the northwest corner of University Dr. and the canal/I-595.  Find the 4 story buildings for Aetna or Kaplan University and park there.  You'll find the trail just to the south by the canal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice opinion.. thanks for sharing....