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Eco-biking... Eco-tourism on a Bike

Two advantages:

  • helps to avoid mosquitos and other biting insects, because you're typically moving faster vs. hiking. A great example of this advantage is eco-biking in the Everglades.
  • explore large areas faster in order to enjoy more activities (sightseeing, hiking) in a limited time. Examples are experiencing more in a single day at some Florida State Parks.

Public lands in Florida offer a wealth of eco-tourism opportunities. Some contain unpaved roads or trails where eco-biking can be enjoyed on most wide-tire bicycles. Important; for our purposes, eco-biking is not "mountain biking." Typically eco-biking is slower, often combining short hikes to eco-tour or explore, best enjoyed on hard-pack surfaces, avoiding soft sand and roots where the mountain bikes rule. Below is a list of places in natural Florida that we've explored. (There are many more.) Note; trail conditions vary from year to year, and are subject to changes and closures.

Florida Eco-biking by Region

North FL Region - 9 Trail Reports


Goethe State Forest Goethe State Forest - 53,000+ acre forest. HOWEVER, with recent resurfacing of forest roads with a rough limestone composite, we now rate this best for equestrian activities, some for mountain bikes, but we no longer recommend for eco-biking. Two short hikes of interest.

View trails, map, and photos


Inglis Island Bike Path Inglis Dam Recreation Area - Part of the Cross Florida Greenway, includes a 2.5 mile paved trail, plus 7.5 miles unpaved (grassy) trail for fat-tire biking, hiking, and horseback riding. Views of lake, river, dam, canal and locks.

View Trail, map, 40+ photos


Lower Suwannee National Wildlife RefugeLower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge Overview Page - 4 options:

- Dixie Mainline Trail - 9 miles along Florida's Big Bend
- Nature Drive - 9 mile limestone road suitable for biking, varied habitat and wildlife
- River Loop Trail - 3/4 mile loop trail with boardwalk and views of Suwannee River
- Shell Mound - Archaeological site, 1/2 mile hiking trail to the Mound

View Trails, Maps, Photos


Cross Florida Greenway Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway - Extends 110 miles from the St. Johns River to the Gulf, along the former Cross Florida Barge Canal. 31 miles of paved bike trail sections, 36 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail.

View Trails, map, 100+ photos


Paynes Prairie State Preserve Payne's Prairie Preserve State Park - Just north of Micanopy and south of Gainesville. Park roads open to biking. Also five sandy trails, totaling about 20 miles. Paved Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail (a FL Top 10) goes through north section.

View Trail, map, 40+ photos


Woodpecker Trail Woodpecker Trail - Located in Big Shoals State Park along the Suwannee River, a 3.4 mile paved bike trail. In addition, there are about 28 miles of unpaved trails for biking, hiking, and horseback riding.

View Trail, map,18+ photos

West FL Region - 5 Trail Reports


Aldermans Ford Conservation Park, Alafia River Alderman's Ford Park Trail - This moss-draped, 2-mile paved trail at Alderman's Ford Conservation Park (Lithia, FL east of Brandon, south of Plant City) was a pleasant find while checking out kayak launches on the Alafia River.

View trail, map, and 10+ photos


Chassahowitzka WMA Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area - On Florida's Gulf Coast, 15 miles south of Crystal River. Miles of biking on limestone roads and on logging tram roads. Two hiking trails, two cave diving sites.

View Trail, map, 30+ photos


Crystal River Archaeological State Park Crystal River Archaeological State Park - Along the Crystal River west of the City of Crystal River. Short but scenic paved path at a National Historic Landmark, this archaeological site features 6 Pre-Columbian Native American mounds and other historic features. River views, birdwatching, picnicking and fishing.

View trail, map, and 20+ photos


Crystal River Preserve State Park Crystal River Preserve State Park - 27,000 acres along the Gulf Coast for about 20 miles from Yankeetown to Homosassa, and including the mouth of the Crystal River. 7-Mile Loop Trail is the eco-biking highlight. Hiking trails, paddling, picnicking, fishing, more.

View Trail, map, 60+ photos


Myakka River State Park Myakka River State Park - Near Sarasota. Up to 7 miles (one-way) of biking on the paved park road, plus unpaved options and hiking trails. One highlight is the Canopy Walk, a suspended walkway 25 feet above ground through the hammock to a 74-foot viewing tower.

View trail, map, and 55+ photos

 

 

Central FL Region - 9 Trail Reports


Circle B Bar Reserve Circle B Bar Reserve - On the northwest shore of Lake Hancock in Polk County, this popular Reserve is a former cattle ranch. Its 1,200 acres have been restored to natural wetland habitat, with up to 7 miles of trails. Many birds and alligators.

View Trail, map, 35+ photos


Lake Apopka Loop Trail Lake Apopka Loop Trail - In the Lake Apopka Restoration Area, the trail runs about 18 miles, the most scenic being along the north shore of Lake Apopka. Some lakeshore trail shared with cars (Wildlife Drive, open Fri., Sat. and Sun only).

View Trail, map, 75+ photos


Lake Jesup Conservation Area Lake Jesup Conservation Area - Established to protect water resources around Lake Jesup, the Conservation Area consists of 3 separate sections, most best for hiking, some eco-biking, equestrian riding.

View Trail, map, 15+ photos


Lake Luisa State Park Lake Louisa State Park - This State Park features bikes lanes along the 7-mile paved main road, plus 20 miles of unpaved multi-use trails. Billed as a "natural theme park" close to Disney World, there are activities here for just about everyone. Popular for camping. A local favorite for cyclists.

View Trail, map, 100+ photos


Lake Norris Conservation Area Lake Norris Conservation Area - 5.5 mile multi-use trail near Eustis, FL. Best biking at the East Trailhead, most of trail better suited to hiking and equestrians due to sand. Popular paddling launch onto Blackwater Creek from the East Trailhead.

View Trail, map, 40+ photos


Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge - Popular in winter for bird watching. Near DeLeon Springs, Volusia County. Over 15 miles of unpaved trail for hiking and biking. Great sunsets. Mostly grassy or hard-packed, but avoid when wet. (The wet clay here dries like cement on tires.)

View Trail, map, 15+ photos


Orlando Wetlands Park Orlando Wetlands Park - Orlando Wetlands Park is a 1,650-acre, man-made wetland loaded with wildlife, a good spot near Orlando, FL to see an alligator. Biking is on the wide earthen berms, 18 miles total, popular on cool weekends.

View Trail, map, 45+ photos


Seminole State Forest Seminole State Forest - Gated entrance to drive in (get code from Forest Service). This helps to make this a more peaceful preserve, while close to a growing urban area. Hard-packed dirt roads, one of the best State Forest rides. Two picnic spots by Blackwater Creek.

View Trails, map, 130+ photos


Wekiva Springs State Park Wekiva Springs State Park - This popular State Park near Orlando is best known for swimming and snorkeling at Wekiva Spring, but has much more to offer including more than 30 miles of off-road trails for eco-biking and hiking.

View Trail, map, 90+ photos

 

East FL Region - 2 Trail Reports


Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge - Established in 1963 as a buffer for the Canaveral (John F. Kennedy) Space Center, famous for bird watching. Fewer eco-biking options today as priorities change, but hikes remain.

View Trails, map, 80+ photos


Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area - Along the St. Johns River, near Christmas, FL, east of Orlando. Hiking trails, plus miles of mostly hard-packed WMA roads, but plenty of sandy spots too. Areas of old growth, river and lake access.

View Trail, map, 60+ photos

Southeast Florida - 2 Trail Reports


Jonathan Dickinson State Park Jonathan Dickinson State Park - At 11,500 acres Jonathan Dickinson State Park is a real treasure with something for everyone - biking, paddling, hiking, camping, picnicking, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, and more. The park roads are bikeable, plus there are paved bicycle trails and scenic nature trails.

View trail, map, and 22+ photos


Riverbend Park biking Riverbend Park - This 680 acre Palm Beach County park features 10 miles hard-packed biking trails (rentals at Park), 7 miles of equestrian trails, 5 miles of kayaking/canoeing trails on the Loxahatchee River, and picnic facilities. A popular spot for families on weekends.

View trail, map, and 15+ photos

Everglades National Park - Multiple Options

Shark Valley, Everglades Everglades Eco-biking - Unpaved biking trails in Everglades National Park (south entrance), plus some historic old roads, and countless miles of dirt and gravel trail on canal levees in Preserves near the National Park.

View Trails, map, many photos

 

More Information and Resources

A great way to support Florida State Parks and Florida State Forests - both financially and politically - is to purchase an annual use permit. A small financial boost, but perhaps more important, every annual use permit helps to lobby for increased funding from the Legislature. Another great way to help is to become a volunteer.

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