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The Suncoast Trail parallels the Suncoast Parkway (FL 589) for about 41 miles from Lutz Farm Road in Hillsborough County, through Pasco County to Hernando County (US Hwy 98), with an extension underway. The south section of the Suncoast Trail serves as part of the FL Coast-to-Coast Trail. (Map link and photos below.)
Map link - Suncoast Trail
Location: Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando Counties
End Points: From Lutz Lake Fern Road in Hillsborough County, through Pasco County, to Hernando County (US Hwy 98)
Mileage: 41.5 miles
Trailheads: Lutz Lake Fern Road, SR54, Crews Lake Park, Anderson Snow Park, SR 50, US 98
Nearby points of interest: Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area
Trek Land O'Lakes (sales, service) (formerly Suncoast Trailside Bicycles)
Most stretches are close to the Parkway with much road noise, but the trail's long, smooth straightaways are especially popular with road bikers looking for speed. Although paralleling the Parkway, it's fairly well buffered to the west with wooded sections and more shade (depending on time of day), especially through the Starkey Wilderness Area (south) and Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area (north). Benches are provided along the way, but few facilities are nearby (check at trailheads and intersections), bring sunscreen, water, snacks.
We visit the trail from South to North
At the south, the Suncoast Trail starts at the end of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail where Lutz Lake Fern Road approaches the Suncoast Parkway. Lutz Lake Fern Trailhead (about 1 mile to the Suncoast Trail) is shared by both trails with parking, restrooms, water, picnic, and a fix-it station. Parking fee.
The SR 54 trailhead is about 2.5 miles from start of the Suncoast Trail. The trailhead has parking, picnic tables, fix-it station and porta-potties. Conveniently located across SR 54 is a shopping center with Suncoast Trailside Bicycles shop, food and beverage. Parking fee.
The Starkey Wilderness Trail meets the Suncoast Trail at about 7 miles. There are no facilities here. From this point, the trail is part of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail until it reaches SR 50, where it will eventually connect (under construction) to the Good Neighbor Trail in Brooksville.
At about mile 15.5, a connector runs under the Parkway along Shady Hill and Lenway Roads to Crews Lake Park and trailhead (about 1 mile).
Crews Lake Park in Spring Hill is a gem. The 113 acre park has parking, restrooms, picnicking, playground, multi-use and nature trails, boardwalk, botanical garden, amphitheater, camping, fishing, canoe/kayak launch, playing fields. A pleasant paved bike path loop winds off the main park road past picnic areas and along the lake to the boardwalk. A notable feature is the Central Pasco & Gulf Railroad, a mini-scaled train offering free rides (donation requested) on the second Saturday of each month. No parking fee, but some facilities may require reservations and payment for groups or events.
Leaving the park, go south on Lenway Road to Shady Hill Road; turn right to go under the Suncoast Parkway to the trail (about 1/2 mile from the exit, or 1 mile total from the parking area).
Anderson Snow Park is located at about mile 23 along the trail, a short path (2/10 mile) links to parking and facilities. The park is a major area sports complex for softball and soccer. It also has parking, restrooms, picnicking, playground, and concession. Parking fee.
The trail leaving Anderson Snow Park runs past residential communities and business areas with several road crossings that provide access to food, drink and other amenities. As it approaches the SR 50 Trailhead, some hills start to appear and more wooded to the west.
The SR 50 Trailhead at mile 29.5 has parking, restroom, picnic, fix-it station. Parking fee applies. An overpass goes over SR 50 just past the trailhead. Food and beverage are available along SR 50 to the west.
This ends the portion of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail running on the Suncoast Trail. Just before going over the bridge, a path splits off to the right leading to the Good Neighbor Connector along SR 50 - the Connector then runs 4.5 miles eastbound to Cobb Road in Brooksville, and eventually will link to the Good Neighbor Trail at Russell St. near the Brooksville Trailhead.
From SR 50 north is probably the most pleasant ride. The trail is further away from the roadway in most sections, is quieter, and includes some rolling hills and shade. There's some residential development to the west, but well buffered from the trail. Few crossroads so little access to food, drink or other amenities. The trail currently ends at US 98 (mile 41.5), an extension is underway.
The Trailhead has parking only at this time. The Suncoast Parkway is undergoing an extension to SR 44 (13 miles), and the trail likewise is being extended. The overpass at US 98 has been built, not yet open (May 2021). Also at the trailhead is an entrance to the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area for hiking and hunting.
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