Friday, March 7, 2014

Biking Florida's Flatwood Wilderness Park's Paved and Mountain Bike Trails

Flatwoods Wilderness Park is a 4000 acre preserve composed of seven entities administered by the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department, and offers 60 mlles of forest trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians.
I've biked the Wilderness Park trails just northeast of Tampa, Florida, six times now and highly recommend them.  Here's a map of the trails (click to enlarge photos)...

The paved loop trail runs 7 miles,  If you also bike the half mile from the Flatwoods parking area to the loop as well as the 2 mile access from the Bruce Downs parking area, you get a nice 12 mile ride on pavement.  They even have re-watering stations in several places providing cold water from coolers, very appreciated on warm days.

Today I biked 25 miles, 15 on the paved trail, and 10 miles on the single track mountain bike trails. A few years ago, I've biked the 15 mile mountain bike loop, but generally I bike  the paved trail to reach my favorite mountain bike segments.

. The trails are in good shape with very little accumulation of "sugar sand" (a white sand often found in Florida) to impair your ride on the trail, unlike other places I've biked in Florida.  Be aware, though, that roots are abundant, and there are many tight turns and some places where the trail passes through narrow openings between trees, all of which make for a stimulating ride!  Just keep your concentration level on high mode and take your time.

Though there were a number of other bikers on the paved trail, including a number of road bikers on speed runs, I only saw 1 other biker on the dirt trails.  The paved trail is very wide, about the width of a 2 lane road, so there is plenty of room for the faster bikers to safely pass others. The mountain bike loop trail is well marked with white numbered posts and directional arrows directing to the next white post. Maps are available at the Flatwoods parking area/ranger station.

Official Florida website (including map)

Biking the mountain bike trails

Biking the paved trail loop

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