Top 5 bike trails in the Orlando area
Experts share their favorite bike trails in Central Florida
Outdoor cycling is not only a great way to get out and exercise, it's a beautiful opportunity to see the sights in your community. When I moved to Florida last year, I was excited to see so many people riding their bikes in their neighborhoods and around the numerous bike trails around Central Florida. So far, I have only had a chance to ride a small part of the Seminole-Wekiva Trail and it was wonderful with its tree-lined trail, smooth path and surprising pass along the art-lined fences. But there are so many trails from which to choose.
I reached out to Jim Broman with David's World Cycle to get some insight on some of Central Florida's best bike trails. David's World Cycle has been in business in Central Florida for 30 years and has 17 locations from coast-to-coast, with eight locations in the Central Florida area, so they know about great bike trails in the area.
Here are some of Broman's favorite trails:
No. 1: West Orange Trail
📷The West Orange Trail features 22 miles of soft rolling hills with a mix of rural and urban views. I always recommend starting and ending in downtown Winter garden on Plant Street. Head west toward Kilarney station. Plan your day to include lunch at one-of-a-kind restaurants or pubs after your ride. According to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit that supports the development of trails across the U.S., this is one of Florida's most popular rail-trails. It is 15 minutes northwest of downtown Orlando and takes you through tree-lined Oakland before heading into downtown Winter Garden. It then has 10 miles of thinly wooded areas and the occasional orange grove before you hit the stretch that rolls through Apopka. Trail start and stop points: Killarney Station at Old County Road 50 and Lake Boulevard at the Oakland, Orange County Line and East Welch Road and Rock Springs Road/ State Road 435 in Apopka Trail Surfaces: Concrete, asphalt, dirt, wood chips. Find more details here.
No. 2: Little Econ Greenway Trail in East Orlando
If you are just starting out cycling, this shorter course may be for you. It is only 8 miles with sections along the Little Econ River. Start from Blanchard Park or just ride over. Reviews on Traillink.com show it has great scenery and you'll see your share of Florida wildlife from deer to osprey to alligators. There is also a butterfly garden along the trail. Trail start and stop points: North Forsyth Road (near Partridge Lane) and North Alafaya Trail and Science Drive in Orlando. Trail surface: Asphalt Find more details here.
No. 3: Cross Seminole Trail
Twenty-three miles from Longwood to Oviedo. The nicest section of this ride is from Big Tree Park east to State Road 434. The path takes you through an undeveloped area along Soldiers Creek and then south to State Road 434. You can stop at the Winter Springs town center and grab a snack or lunch. TrailLink.com reviews say this trail is best for relaxed rides, but be prepared for a lot of stops and a little bit of confusion. Some cyclists say signage could be better. This trail also connects to the Seminole Wekiva Trail to the west and Cady Way Trail to the south. Trail start and stop points: Seminole/Orange County border and Lake Mary (Greenway Boulevard). There are four trailheads you can take: The southern section starts at the northeast corner of the intersection of Aloma Avenue and Howell Branch Road. The Black Hammock trailhead is located westbound on State Road 434/Sanford Oviedo Road. Take the first left into the well-marked parking lot, or go 4 miles more and you can hit the Layer Elementary School trailhead right off SR 419. To reach the Lake Mary trailhead, take I-4 East to the Lake Mary Boulevard exit, head east 1 mile to Reinhart Road and the trailhead is on the northeast corner. Trail surface: Asphalt Find more details here.
No. 4: Seminole Wekiva Trail
Fourteen to 17 miles of smooth flat trail. Be sure to check out the art along the trail north of E.E. Williamson Road. Broman says this trail is one of the nicest around for a longer ride. The artwork on the fences is a must-see, and this entire length is shaded. As you continue north after the tunnel under Lake Mary Boulevard. you pass through the business corridor in Seminole County, home to AAA's world headquarters. You can stop along Lake Mary Blvd. and have lunch or a smoothie, or drop in and say "hi" at David's World Cycle. Trail start and stop points: Markham Road near County Road 46A Longwood and State Road 436 near Laurel Street in Altamonte Springs. Traillink.com points out if you begin in Altamonte Springs, you will go across a wooden bridge at the San Sebastian Prado trailhead and then winds along residential neighborhoods and wooded areas draped in Spanish moss. You will then hit a section of shopping areas where you can get food, water, or take a restroom break. Just past mile marker 9, you will head east to a pedestrian bridge over I-4 before joining the Cross-Seminole Trail. Many who have left reviews compliment the beautiful scenery and nicely paved wide trail. Trail surfaces: asphalt. Find more details here.
No. 5: Spring to Spring Trail
This 17-mile trail is in southwest Volusia County in the cities of DeBary and Deltona. The southern end starts at Lake Monroe park in DeBary at the St. Johns River. Broman says this trail is perfect for an easy day on the bike, with a path that meanders through the cypress swamp, pine hammock and prairie. Continue east to Deltona where the trail goes thru heavily shaded rural areas on the north side of Lake Monroe. If your looking for a shorter ride start at Green Springs park along Enterprise Osteen Road. Many who left comments on Traillink.com say this trail is one of the best kept secrets in the the area and make for a wonderful weekend ride. Trail start and stop points: W. Baxter Street in De Leon Springs and Providence Blvd. in Deltona Trail surfaces: Asphalt Find more details here.
As part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy TrailLink also has a list of top five trails in Central Florida. The nonprofit agrees with Broman on the above trails; however, they also recommend a few more trails.
Gainesville-Hawthorne State Park Trail
📷 The Gainesville-Hawthorne State Park Trail is just south from Gainesville and runs through the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Several trailside overlooks offer views of the prairie, home to bison, wild horses and numerous alligators, according to TrailLink.com. The 16.5-mile paved pathway flanks the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area. Trail start: 3400 SE 15 St. Gainesville, Fla. 32641 Find more details here.
South Lake and Lake Minneola Scenic Trail
📷 The South Lake and Lake Minneola Scenic Trail contains some of Central Florida’s most spectacular views and neighborhoods. Along this 13-mile paved pathway, cyclists will experience thrilling hills and beautiful lake vistas. As it skirts the southern shore of Lake Minneola, the trail also offers access to a beach and swimming area. Trail start: West Orange Trail at Killarney Station/Old County Road 50 and Lake Boulevard (Oakland, Orange County line) and County Road 565A and Silver Eagle Road (Clermont). Find more details here.
General James A. Van Fleet State Trail
The 29-mile Van Fleet State Trail runs through Central Florida's Green Swamp and is one of Florida's most scenic rural landscapes, according to TrailLink.
Trail start: 7683 Berkley Road Polk City, Florida Trail surface: Asphalt Withlacoochee State Trail
The 46-mile trail runs parallel with the Withlacoochee River, which is a state-designated paddling trail. It's one of Florida's longest paved trails.
Trail start: 3100 S. Old Floral City Road Inverness, Florida Trail surface: Paved
For a look at the more than two dozen trails TrailLink has listed in the Central Florida area, head to traillink.com.
Want even more choices? Head to bikeorlando.net for a list of 30 bike trails from which to choose.
Bowman also recommends to check out Half-Fast Social cycling on Google for their trail ride calendar. They have both a Facebook and Meetup page.
Do you have a favorite trail or place you like to ride? Let me know in the comments below.
See you on the trails soon!
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