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Crystal River is best known for paddling, manatee viewing, diving and snorkeling at the springs and along the Crystal River and Kings Bay. We usually visit for kayaking, but were happy to see the city's growing network of paved, off-street bike trails and paths. We enjoyed biking around town, visiting some of its parks, springs, and historic areas. (Map link and photos below.)
Map link ... Crystal River Biking
Location: Citrus County
Mileage: 2 miles (Crosstown Trail); more on the Riverwalk and in-town biking
Trailheads: NE Crystal St. (across from Crystal River Station)
Nearby points of interest: Three Sisters Springs, Hunter Springs, Crystal River/Kings Bay, Crystal River Preserve State Park, Crystal River Archaeological State Park, Yulee Sugar Mills Ruins Historic State Park, Fort Island Beach and Pier, Coastal Heritage Museum
Crystal River's Crosstown Trail is built on a converted Seaboard Coast Line railroad bed, running north-south about 2 miles from NE 11th St. to W. Fort Island Trail (SR 44). A trailhead is located near the north end, across from the Historic Crystal River Train Depot (built 1901). From start to the Depot it runs roadside, then enters a shaded corridor interrupted by the major road crossing at US 19/98 (do NOT cross here, go a block east to the traffic signal). At NE 3rd St., it leaves the corridor and continue roadside along Three Sisters Springs Trail - and at the Springs (more below), along a canal - coming to an end at W. Fort Island Trail. This is an easy ride with some shade, the only negative being numerous road crossings. Fitness stations and benches are provided along the way. No other trailside facilities, but you're never far from restaurants, shops, and hotels.
Kings Bay Riverwalk is a work in progress. Portions are complete. We visited the section to the east around Kings Bay Park (more below) and meandered for about a mile in total, looping from Kings Bay Park (NW 3rd St.) to NW 5th St. The pavers are smooth and a pleasant ride, with a few cross streets in this section. To the west, another section runs along the riverfront, eventually these will be connected.
We also biked (and walked) around the old Downtown area (N. Citrus Ave.) and its historic buildings, many from the1920's. The old City Hall (1939, a Works Progress Administration [WPA] project listed on the National Register of Historic Places), now houses the Coastal Heritage Museum. A couple blocks over is the old "Michigan Town" neighborhood (settled by Michigan snowbirds in the 1920's) with bike-friendly streets and sidewalks (watch for cars and pedestrians). Many paddling outfitters here, too.
Parking (fee), restrooms, picnic/grills, playground, fishing
dock, kayak launch, boardwalk. Commercial vendors' kayak/paddlecraft
launch location. Along the Kings Bay Riverwalk
Parking (fee), restrooms, picnic/grills, playground, beach, kayak/paddleboard
launch, boardwalk. The springs (5 vents) are about 100
feet from the shoreline. Swim with manatees (but do not touch).
Part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, with wildlife and manatee viewing, snorkeling, swimming, hiking, bicycling. Boardwalk. No parking on-site, access is by trolley shuttle, on foot or bicycle. There's no access to the spring within the refuge (even for swimming), only by water from Kings Bay. Local operators offer rentals, manatee tours. Kayaking/swimming at the springs is restricted during manatee season (Nov.-May). We didn't visit this trip, just biked by the entrance, but we've kayaked in the past. Entry fee applies.
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