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Bike Your Way Around Florida

National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, is celebrated during May in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling and encourage residents to embrace this treasured pastime.

Want to pedal beyond your neighborhood? Log onto to explore 19 different bike trail options ─ all within a 30 mile radius of downtown Orlando ─ that collectively total over 150 miles of paved off-street. Maybe the kids are fully-equipped, but you lack wheels… no worries! Visit or reserve a bike using your mobile device; prices are just $5 per hour or $15 per month.

Bicycling doesn’t need to be limited to your hometown. Bikes are easily transportable thanks to vehicle bike racks, and can provide a fun way to explore family destinations. Most recently, my family visited Jensen Beach on Florida’s Atlantic coast. Casual rides let us explore at a leisurely pace, enjoy the ocean breeze, burn off calories after ice cream shop detours, and maximize Geocaching hunts. Many of our state’s beaches feature slower speed limits, bicycle lanes, and crosswalks, making them ideal for family-friendly rides. And, if you know where to find firmer sand, a beach cruiser can allow for the greatest ride of your life. From scenic trails to cross-state greenways, here are Florida’s must-see biking areas:

Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail

Beginning in the northeast corner of the state, the Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail offers an excellent introduction to Florida cycling, blending urban convenience with Old Florida scenery. Start peddling the 14.5-mile paved trail at the Imeson Road Trailhead, just a few miles west of downtown Jacksonville. The gently rolling pathway meanders through pine flatwoods, wetlands, and hardwood canopies that provide both shade and seclusion. In addition to the flora and fauna ─ hawks, wild turkey, and deer, to name a few ─ the Jacksonville-Baldwin trail also traverses McGirts Creek, site of a Confederate Civil War camp.

Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail

Just an hour or two west, the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail offers more scenic paved cycling. This well-traveled trail winds from the city of Gainesville through Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and into the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area, ending on the outskirts of Hawthorne. The trail’s hills provide challenging climbs and exhilarating downhills, as well as panoramic views of Paynes Prairie, where cyclists should keep an eye out for wild horses, bison, and sandhill cranes. A spur trail near the Gainesville trailhead leads to the wildflower-covered Alachua sink, home to a mind-boggling number of alligators.

Nature Coast Trail

Also to the west, where natural springs begin to outnumber cities, cyclists can ride the Nature Coast Trail. One of the state’s most beautiful rails-to-trails projects, the 32-mile paved pathway connects the rural communities of Chiefland, Trenton, Fanning Springs, Old Town, and Cross City. A “T” shape, the Nature Coast Trail can be ridden in several configurations. Starting at the old train depot in Cross City, riders can peddle east toward Old Town where they’ll cross the lazy Suwannee River on a historic train trestle. Cyclists may either continue east to Trenton or head south. The southern route leads directly past Fanning Springs State Park, the perfect place to take a break and cool off by swimming or snorkeling in the crystal-clear springs.

Withlacoochee State Trail

Florida’s longest, continuous rail-trail is in the small town of Dunnellon in Marion County. The Withlacoochee State Trail is as fun to cycle as it is to pronounce, running 46 miles south to Trilby. While “Withlacooche” translates to “crooked river,” the trail itself is relatively straight, passing through the pristine, 150,000-acre state forest by the same name. Running past ranches, tiny towns, and wildlife-rich preserves, the pathway also serves as a gateway to other recreational pursuits. The fat tire crowd will want to challenge the 50-plus miles of the Croom Off-Road Trail, while distance riders should check out the 83-mile canoe trail.

Pinellas Trail

Just to the southwest, visitors will find one of Florida’s best urban trails: The Pinellas Trail runs 47 miles, traversing natural areas, charming downtowns, and urban centers. From the south, the trail begins just outside downtown St. Petersburg, the cultural center of Florida’s West Coast. Winding north through neighborhoods and across intracoastal waterways, riders reach the quaint Scottish town of Dunedin. A scenic trail leads to Honeymoon Island State Park, where cyclists can catch a ferry to the award-winning beaches of Caladesi Island. The trail ends in Tarpon Springs, where tired road warriors may reward themselves with an authentic Greek meal and a stroll around the historic sponge docks.

Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway

For the serious cyclists, nothing can top the challenge of biking coast-to-coast on one of Florida’s cross-state trails! The Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway is among the most beautiful of these, traversing 110 miles of swamps, rolling hills, and dense forests. Built largely along the failed Cross Florida Barge Canal, nature and history come in equal doses on this trail, which runs from Inglis east to the St. John’s River. Innumerable side trails offer off-road adventure and exploration, and abundant wildlife habitat affords the chance to see Florida black bears, deer, alligators, and even manatees.

Beach bums can search “Beach Biking Town” on for information on Anna Maria Island, Cedar Key, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Key West, Sanibel Island, South Beach (Miami), and St. Joseph’s Peninsula. If you’d prefer a little solitude on your next ride, search “Florida’s Less-Traveled Bike Paths” for the top trails that take you away from the crowds and closer to nature.