Author Topic: Best options for touring Florida in April?  (Read 3559 times)

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Offline douggray

Best options for touring Florida in April?
« on: January 14, 2008, 10:30:17 am »
I'm planning a five day April '08 tour in Florida.  I'm looking at the possibility of riding either section 6 or 7 of the Atlantic Coast Route, (NE Gerogia to St. Augustine, or St. Augustine to the West Palm Beach area), trying the trails with some rural roads in the Tampa, Gulf Coast area, or perhaps we'll explore one of the loops on the Florida Connector Route of ACA.  Please advise about your experience with any of the options mentioned.  For those who have experience riding any of these routes in Florida, what would you suggest? I've toured up and down the East Coast, but I'm really unfamiliar with Florida.  We're looking to do about a 400-500 mile ride and will be mostly tent camping.  Thanks!

Offline litespeed

Best options for touring Florida in April?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2008, 12:41:21 pm »
I'm quite familiar with the northern half of Florida so I can give you a few pointers:

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay is closed to cyclists but if you get into St. Petersburg the Pinellas Trail is a fine ride to just north of Tarpon Springs. Avoid US19 south of Chiefland. Instead roughly follow 54 to the Suncoast Parkway and take the fine paved trail up the west side of it to 50.

Then go into Brooksville and go north on 41 to Floral City. Get on the Withlacoochee Trail there and go north to the end of it near Citrus Park/Dunnellon. don't go north on 41. Instead take 40,336, 337 and Alt. 27 to Chiefland or Trenton. From either town take the Nature Coast Trail to Cross City and on north on boring US19.

There is a nice campground/RV park in Chiefland and a crummy campground in Tenille. KOA's in St. Petersburg (right on the Pinellas Trail), Tarpon Springs and Perry.

On the east coast the state parks tend to fill up on the weekends, Call ahead. Don't miss the Space Center if you haven't seen it. KOA in nearby Mims. In Jacksonville stick to the coast and take the ferry.

In the Orlando area avoid 50 through Orlando and 441 from Mt. Dora to Fruitland Park. Lake Griffin State Park in Fruitland Park is a fine camping spot but quite popular. Call ahead. Mt. Dora is a lovely town but a bit precious and touristy. The KOA at Wildwood is well kept, as usual, but right next to a huge truck stop full of idling big rigs. Such white noise doesn't bother me but is not for everyone.

In the Florida panhandle US90 is a much better bicycling route than US98 along the coast but not nearly as scenic. Bicycling through Panama City, Fort Walton Beach and Destin is pretty nerve wracking with no shoulders and plenty of traffic. KOA's at Alligator Point and near Pensacola.

Convenience stores and banks are everywhere in Florida so you can always get money and SOMETHING to eat.

Offline douggray

Best options for touring Florida in April?
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2008, 02:00:39 pm »
Litespeed- This is very helpful and informative.  Thanks for taking time for a detailed reply.  Unless I get any better ideas from folks in this forum, right now I'm leaning towards doing section 7 of the Atlantic Coast Route from Key Largo up to St. Augustine.  The trail route that you provided on the west coast in the Tampa-St. Pete area also looks quite intriguing, so I may give that a shot instead.  Thanks again.  Doug