Trail Towns of Florida
What is it like to live in Florida Trail Town? In Jessica Sorenson’s hometown of Deltona, she can grab her bike, step out the front door and roll onto the East Central Regional Rail Trail in less than 15 minutes. She likes to ride the rail trail to Green Springs Park and relax by the canopied spring before continuing to Blue Spring State Park on the Spring-to-Spring Trail. In the winter, hundreds of manatees gather at Blue Spring, attracting trail users and others who want an up-close look at the gentle mammals.
The future is bright for trails in Deltona and the eight other communities that the Florida Park Service’s Office of Greenways and Trails has named Florida Trail Towns. The prestigious designation recognizes outstanding efforts to embrace regional trails, including paved multi-use and paddling trails.
A trail town is a community located along or in proximity to a recreational trail or a recognized trail system. Whether on a rail trail, paddling trail, equestrian trail or hiking trail, trail users can venture off the trail to enjoy the services and unique heritage of the nearby community. The town is a safe place where both town residents and trail users can walk, bike, or jog to find the goods and services they need, and easily access both the trail and the town. In such a town, the trail is an integral and important part of the community.
In Deltona, city officials and trail advocates are pursuing an ambitious plan to create trail connections between city parks and turn a defunct community center into a lodge for bike tourists. The lodge will even include a full-service bike shop. The town is already a hub for several long-distance multi-use trails such as the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail and the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop.
Other recently-designated Florida Trail Towns include Dunedin, Titusville, Malabar, Clermont, Vilano Beach, Palatka, Inverness and Everglades City.
“The trails around Deltona are gorgeous,” Sorenson said. “Florida’s springs are one of a kind, and it’s great to have an easy way to get to them and enjoy some fresh air. Being close to the trails keeps me fit.”