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The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, spanning the Florida Keys from Key Largo to Key West following Henry Flagler's railroad route, continues to grow and we were pleased to see that construction has been progressing. Almost the entire 106 mile length now has bike lanes along the shoulders, with separate bike trails along much of the way (including bridges). Existing trails and paths, and sections of Old US 1 have now been incorporated into the trail. (Map link and photos below.)
Map - Bike Florida Keys
Location: Monroe County (See map)
End Points: Key Largo to Key West
Mileage: 76 miles, ultimately will total 106 miles and include 36 bridges.
Florida State Parks - Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
The trail is almost exclusively alongside the roadway. Traffic can be heavy and road noise is a constant. Here we point out some of the best trail sections to bike or hike. Since it spans the entire length of the Keys to Key West, the trail is diverse, passing through commercial and residential areas, over bridges and past parks, wetlands, and pine, palm, silver buttonwood and mangrove environments - but always near the road. In residential and commercial areas, there can be many driveways. We don't encourage recreational biking on the more narrow A1A bridges due to heavy traffic, inadequate bike lanes, and strong winds - but many bridges now have separate biking/walking spans (also, fishing), with more being built.
Mile markers (MM) are a popular and convenient way to locate Keys destinations. Visit 10 State Parks. There are also a few opportunities to go off the beaten path and explore side roads, to enjoy biking without the traffic.
The Upper Keys start in Key Largo at MM 107.2, extend through Islamorada and end in Lower Matecumbe Key at MM 75. The island of Key Largo includes North Key Largo, Key Largo, and Tavernier. Popular for diving and snorkeling, Key Largo is known as the "Dive Capital of the World."
Islamorada's "Village of Islands" is made up of Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key. Islamorada is known as the "Sport Fishing Capital of the World."
Nearby points of interest: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Key Largo, MM 102), Indian Key State Historic Site (Islamorada, MM 77.5), Hurricane Monument (Islamorada, MM 81.6)
The Keys are narrow: the entire trail runs along the road; in a few sections abutting road shoulder, but otherwise comfortably away from the roadway separated by grass. In Key Largo it goes through commercial areas with many driveways so watch for traffic. A pleasant section is at Tea Table Key where it is separated by a wide divider with trees. At Lower Matecumbe Key, a long stretch runs on old US 1, residential driveways cross here but other motor traffic is prohibited. The only bridge we noted with a dedicated bike span is at Channel #2 (MM 73), others have bike lanes on the bridge - some wider, some narrower.
The Middle Keys begin on Craig Key MM 71.8 and trail travel though Key Vaca (City of Marathon), Boot Key, Fat Deer Key, Long Point Key, Crawl Key and Grassy Key. The Middle Keys end at the south end of the 7-Mile Bridge at MM 47. As along most of its length, the trail here consists of a bike lane along the shoulder with a parallel bike trail.
At Tom's Harbor Channel, Tom's Harbor Cut, and Long Key Channel (2 miles), separate biking/fishing spans are assets. A nice section to bike is at Grassy Key MM 55-58 where the trail is off the road with mangrove forest on both sides providing both shade and protection from the wind. From Marathon, there also are bike paths to Sombrero Beach and Coco Plum Beach.
Just off the main trail, the historic Pigeon Key bridge span (MM 47, a 2-mile portion of the old Seven Mile Bridge, with no cars) is a little bumpy, but a great bike or hike with scenic views, a popular spot for sunsets. The bridge originally was part of Flagler's railroad and Pigeon Key was a construction camp during construction, today it's a museum and can be accessed by boat from the visitor center.
The Lower Keys begin at the south end of the 7-Mile Bridge at MM 47 and end at MM 0 in Key West. The Lower Keys are comprised of Little Duck Key, Missouri Key, Ohio Key, Bahia Honda Key, Spanish Harbor Keys, West Summerland Key (Scout Key), No Name Key, Big Pine Key, Little Torch Key, Middle Torch Key, Big Torch Key, Ramrod Key, Summerland Key, Knockemdown Key, Cudjoe Key, Sugarloaf Key, Park Key, Lower Sugarloaf Key, Saddlebunch Keys, Shark Key, Geiger Key, Big Coppitt Key, East Rockland Key, Rockland Key, Boca Chica Key, Key Haven, Stock Island, Key West, Sigsbee Park, and Fleming Key.
Nearby points of interest: Bahia Honda State Park (Bahia Honda Key, MM37), Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge (Big Pine Key)
Big Pine Bicycle Center (Big Pine Key)
The trail along the roadway is expanding rapidly, many bridges have separate spans, and there are sections (Cudjoe Key, Summerland Key) where the trail utilizes old US 1 as off-the-road options. The Saddlebunch Keys have bike lanes, bike trail and five Flagler bridges with bike trail spans. From MM 16 to Key West the trail is complete, including bridges with separated bike spans. This is a beautiful section, but fully exposed to the wind, and it does get windy in the Keys.
The Overseas Highway ends at MM 0 in Key West. Officially, the Overseas Heritage Trail continues into Key West to the right, along the north side of the Island (US Hwy 1). However, the widest bike path into Key West is to the left, along the south side of the Island (less traffic, see map). The bike path passes the airport and ends just past Smathers Beach, the largest white sand beach in the Keys.
In Old Town Key West, the narrow streets and tourist traffic make bicycling (*carefully) a good way to get around - visit Mallory Square, Duval Street, the Southernmost Point and more, including shopping, dining, fishing, and snorkeling. Some enjoy the week-long celebration of Conch Republic Independence Day (April 23) each year.
Nearby points of interest: Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park, Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Harry Truman Little White House, Old Town, Historic Seaport District, Key West National Marine Sanctuary
Key West Biking Map
Entering Key West on the Overseas Heritage Trail, at Roosevelt Blvd the trail continues to either the right or the left. To the right (beside US Hwy 1), the trail skirts the north side of the island, past the seaport area toward old downtown, ending at the Key West Visitors Center on Eisenhower Drive. To the left (Hwy A1A), the trail skirts the south side of the island, running parallel to Atlantic Avenue and the Key West beaches (Smathers and Higgs) and CB Harvey Rest Beach Park. For us, the south side is a more pleasant ride; the trail here is smooth and wide, with unobstructed water views and less traffic noise. While the old Key West Historic District has no formal bike trail, bicycles are a common means of transportation.
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