10 Top Bicycle Trails in Florida

With little or no elevation, warm weather and natural beauty in every direction, Florida is a cycling paradise as long as you know where to find bicycle-friendly trails. This is even more important in south Florida where over development and busy car-crowded roads make up much of the landscape. The good news is that once you’ve arrived at one of these dedicated bicycle paths, you’ll find bike trails that are appropriate for every age and every level of cycling. Are you a senior looking for a flat, scenic trail? Check. A young family desiring parks, picnics and wildlife along the way? No problem.

Although there are other cycling paths in Florida not mentioned below, we wanted to provide a list of our top 10 paths that are scattered across the state. We also recommend Florida’s Paved Bike Trails book on Amazon if you’d like something more comprehensive. And, if you’re a visitor to the area, we’ve provided information about bicycle rentals and parking for each of the trails mentioned below.

1. Shark Valley Trail, Everglades

The Shark Valley Trail in the Everglades tops most Florida-based bicycle trail lists. You’re sure to see wildlife, such as turtles, birds and even alligators popping into sight as you complete the 15-mile trail loop. You can access the Shark Valley Trail in the Everglades National Park at the beginning of the Tamiami Trail. For those of you not familiar with this part of the Everglades, you’ll head west of Miami. 

Shark Valley Bike Trail
Once you’ve arrived, you’ll find a paved trail that is typically 20 feet wide and free of motorized vehicles; except for a park-based tram that uses the path. Visiting Shark Valley is no walk in the park if you visit during a sunny weekend day. It’s possible that you’ll have to deal with lines and a lack of parking spots. However, don’t let that slow you down. See our information below about parking and plan on arriving early.

Bicycle Rental

Shark Valley Tram Tours rents bicycles, but arrive early if you’re going to rent on the weekends. Bikes are all single gear bikes with coaster brakes. Bike rentals start at 8:30 a.m. and may be rented until 4 p.m. Bringing your own bike is ideal, especially because you can stay later than the 5 p.m. return-time for rented bikes.

Parking

The parking lot at Shark Valley cannot accommodate all the visitors on winter weekends, but cars can park on the shoulder of the Tamiami Trail and visitors can walk in. You can find the address to the Shark Valley Visitor Center on their website--along with other helpful information. Note: Admission to Everglades National Park is now $30 per car, but is good for seven days.

2. The Upper Tampa Bay Trail

The Upper Tampa Bay Trail is a seven-mile trail spanning across Citrus Park and Town N’ Country. Often considered Tampa Bay’s best urban trail, the Upper Tampa Bay Trail offers a scenic alternative compared to biking in the surrounding area. The main section of the trail winds through suburban Citrus Park alongside an old unused railroad track. It then continues along the a waterway.

It then follows an old railroad corridor and passes some impressive features, such as a suspension bridge. The trail then crosses the Town ‘N Country Preserve, Rocky Creek and some other smaller bike paths. There are lots of other bicycle path options in or around Tampa. We highly recommend you check out the Tampa Riverwalk if you don’t mind slowing down or walking.

Upper Tampa Bay Trail Bridge

Parking

There are several trailheads and places to park if you’d like to hop on the Upper Tamp Bay Trail. The Channel Park trailhead is a good place to start your trip. Parking is $2 and parking is open from sunrise to sunset. You can also find a bathroom here along with other amenities (like water). Hillsborough County provides an excellent map for your pre-trip planning.

Bicycle Rental

Citrus Park Bikes rents out bicycles near the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, but note they do not rental trailers for children.

3. Withlacoochee State Trail

A massive 46-mile trail, Withlacoochee gives riders an option to explore Withlacoochee State Forest, Floral City, and Inverness. Here you can ride along Withlacoochee River and miles of natural lands on a wide asphalt-paved trail.
Withlacoochee Trail

The Withlacoochee State Trail is 46 miles long, and is presently the longest paved rail trail in Florida. The trail corridor runs through small towns, ranches, and natural areas. The northern terminus is in Dunnellon and the southern terminus is in Dade City. The trail traverses a region that offers many other outstanding recreational opportunities and Fort Cooper State Park.

Parking

There at at least 10 different trailheads that allow you to access this trail. South of Wallace Brooks Trailhead is Ft. Cooper State Park located at 3100 South Old Floral City Road in Inverness. The park is open from 8am until sundown and you’ll pay $3 to enter the park. If you choose to start your trip here, you’ll fine beautiful foliage, a picnic area, two excellent restroom facilities, a recreation hall, and playground–all which is on a scenic lake. At the back of the park you will also find lots of parking.

Bicycle Rental

There are several places to rent bicycle, but we recommend Inverness Bicycles based on its excellent location and prices.

4. The West Orange Trail

The West Orange Trail is a much-loved trail by novice and advanced cyclists. The trail offers a world-class rail trail that traverses suburban and urban Orange County locations. Along the way, you’ll encounter bicycle-art sculptures, restaurants and bike shops. All in all, the West Orange Trail is one of Florida’s most popular rail-trails based on its proximity to Orlando. The trail will take you through some pockets of Florida that hearken back to the 1950s when many communities depended on trains for commerce and transportation.

The most central station–and your best option to kick off your ride–is Killarney Station. At or around the station you’ll find bike rentals, restrooms and water. From the station the bike route leads northeast through the tranquil, wooded community of Oakland before reaching downtown Winter Garden. For about a mile or so, the trail straddles Plant Street, allowing cyclists to check out the shops and restaurants that are clustered in this part of the community.

For the next 10 miles, enjoy the scenery as you’ll find more trees and orange groves. You might also encounter some horses since this last stretch of the trail is open to equestrian use.
West Orange Trail

Parking

Located about 20 minutes from Orlando, FL, Killarney Station is the ideal place to start your bicycle trip on the West Orange Trail. Killarney Station is both a trailhead for the beginning of the West Orange Trail, and one of only two stations offering bike rentals.

Bicycle Rental

After you park your vehicle, rent a bicycle from West Orange Trail Bikes and Blades. Bike rentals are $7/hour or $30/day and $11/hour or $50/day for road bikes. Don’t forget to bring a bike lock, as they are not included. The rental shop is open from 9am-5pm on weekdays, and 7:30am-5pm on weekends.

5. Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, Pinellas County

Linking fantastic parks, coastal areas, and residential areas, the Pinellas Trail is 38-mile’s alongside some of the most scenic landscapes in Florida. Cruise through Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, and Honeymoon Island State Park for a peaceful and pleasant ride. The trail stretches from St. Petersburg at the southern end to Tarpon Springs on the northern end. You’ll find county parks, coastal regions, and pass through the cities of Clearwater, Largo and Gulfport and other charming downtown towns like Dunedin.

Dunedin serves as a good place to start your trip. About two miles north is the Dunedin Causeway, where you can leave the trail and take the causeway straight out to pristine Honeymoon Island State Park. Cyclists enter for $2. You can swim, fish, snorkel, picnic, or take the ferry out to the white-sand beaches of Caladesi Island.

Back on the trail headed north, visit Tarpon Springs, about 10 miles from Dunedin, home of the Greek sponge docks, with streets full of antique stores, art galleries and restaurants. There are plenty of places to eat along the way, or wait until you return back to Dunedin.

After enjoying its waterfront and parks, try homemade ice cream, Florida’s oldest brewery or anything from tapas to gourmet barbeque to Italian or vegetarian Mexican food.

Parking

Located about 20 minutes from Orlando, FL, Killarney Station is the ideal place to start your bicycle trip on the West Orange Trail. Killarney Station is both a trailhead for the beginning of the West Orange Trail, and one of only two stations offering bike rentals.

Bicycle Rental

About a dozen bike shops can be found close to the Pinellas Trail. Nohren gets you squared away with a 24-hour bike rental for $20 and we also recommend West Orange Trail Bike & Blades. Trail Sport Bicycles is also an excellent place to rent bicycles for the Pinellas trail since they have some of the best rates in the area. Be warned however that they are closed on Mondays.

6. Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail

Explore quiet wooded areas and winding hills for 16 miles of pure Florida beauty on this historic rail-bed turned greenway. You’ll ride through Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and Lochloosa Wildlife Management area. For a scenic pit stop, hike the nearby Paynes Prairie trail to take in the gorgeous overlook. Along the way, you will encounter native plants and wildlife, diverse scenery and true Florida culture. Numerous overlooks and points of interest help tell the story of once bustling railroad towns.

The recreational trail is paved with a grassy equestrian trail running alongside. Make sure you look over the Florida State Parks website as it provides a tremendous amount of helpful information about this trail–along with a downloadable park map. You might also want to read some reviews of this trail at Alltrails.com. Although there are plenty of options for starting and stopping your bike ride, we recommend you consider starting at Boulware Springs City Park where you can head east towards Hawthorne.

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail

Parking

There are four separate trailheads where you can find parking:

  • Boulware Springs City Park, 3300 S.E. 15th Street, Gainesville
  • At the intersection of CR 234 and CR 2082, Rochelle (at Prairie Creek Preserve)
  • 7902 S.E. 200th Drive, off of CR 2082, west of Hawthorne
  • 2182 S.E. 71st Avenue, Hawthorne

Bicycle Rental

We recommend the Freewheel Project in Gainesville is as a solid place to rent a bike for this trail. Bikes can be had for as little $10 a day, but call ahead to make sure all is in order.

7. The Lake Trail, Palm Beach

Perfect for a family ride, bike alongside the mansions of millionaires at this picturesque trail where you will cruise past private docks on the Intracoastal, historical buildings, and the Henry Flagler Museum.  The trail runs parallel to Palm Beach, with a view of the Lake Worth Lagoon. Palm Beach is a barrier island that tretches 16 miles in length, and is less than a mile wide. The trail is about 5 and a half miles long, running from South Lake Drive on Peruvian Avenue North to its end north of Sailfish Club. The trail isn’t completely free of interruptions as there are a few sidewalks and an intersection, but the trail is otherwise continuous. You can find additional information (and photos) about this trail at Discover the Palm Beaches website.

Lake Trail Palm Beach

Parking

If you want to travel the entire distance of the trail, you should park at the trail’s southern end at South Lake Drive and Peruvian Avenue. There is paid public parking along South Lake Drive and keep in mind that there aren’t any bathrooms along the way. 

Bicycle Rental

There are a few good options to rent bicycles:

8. The Nature Coast State Trail

It might be 32 miles long, but the Nature Coast State Trail sprawls across a number of great destinations. It connects the communities of Trenton, Cross City, Chiefland and Fanning Springs. It also crosses the Suwannee River and a number of Trenton train stations.

Florida Nature Trail

Parking

There are trailheads in Chiefland, Trenton, Cross City, Old Town and Fanning Springs. The Chiefland, Cross City and Trenton Trailheads have the most amenities – parking, restrooms and a pavilion at each.

Bicycle Rental

There doesn’t appear to be a bike rental nearby; so, bring your own or rent somewhere in the vicinity.

9. Sanibel Island Bike Trails

With 22 miles of pristine trails, bikers will enjoy exploring nearby Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge for its diverse bird watching in addition to cruising alongside Sanibel’s lighthouse, beaches, and quaint roadside attractions. If you have time, there are in fact at least 7 bicycle trails on Sanibel Islands.

Parking

Parking a car on Sanibel Island can be a problem. Public parking is based on an hourly fee and on a busy weekend, a parking spot can be very difficult to find. But with a bicycle, you won’t have a problem. You can park for free along the causeway, or 0.3 miles from the end of the causeway at the Visitor’s Center (free bike trail maps). This also places you conveniently near the center of the island.

Bicycle Rental

There are numerous options to rent bicycles on Sanibel Island. We recommend Billy’s Rentals.

10. Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail

Tree-lined and away from traffic noise, this trail is full of natural landscapes. Here you’ll find stunning pine flatwoods, wetlands, and hardwood uplands in addition to a variety of wildlife such as hawks, wild turkey, and turtles. Just west of bustling downtown Jacksonville, the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail-Trail, one of north Florida’s oldest, traverses a rural setting of hardwood uplands, wetlands and pine flatwoods. A dense tree canopy shelters much of the nearly 15-mile paved path, providing habitat for hawks, wood storks, stilts and belted kingfishers. You’re also likely to encounter turkeys, alligators, rabbits, gopher tortoises and coral snakes. Beware the latter, a venomous species with wide black and red bands broken by narrow yellow rings.

Jackson Baldwin Trail

Parking

To reach the Imeson Road trailhead from downtown Jacksonville, take I-10 west to Exit 356/I-295 North and head up I-295 to Exit 9/Commonwealth Avenue. Drive west on Commonwealth about 1 mile to Imeson and turn right. The marked trailhead is on the left.

To reach the Brandy Branch Road trailhead, take I-10 west to Exit 343/US Highway 301 and head north to US Highway 90. Turn left, drive west about 2 miles then turn right on Route 121/Brandy Branch Road. The marked trailhead is on the right.

Bicycle Rental

Check out Lakeshore Bicycles.

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