March is Florida Biking Month.
It's when many of us are looking for an opportunity to enjoy outdoor exercise.
The health benefits of regular cycling include increased cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and flexibility, improved joint mobility and decreased stress levels.
Research has shown that exercising outdoors has extra benefits. Besides enjoying Florida’s famous sunshine, cycling is an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family. We picked some of the best Florida State Parks for riding bicycles.
Biking the 5-mile, double-loop Lake Overstreet trail at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee is a scenic delight. Additionally, 3 more miles of trails provide for more strenuous exercise. The park offers a limited number of rental bikes. Ask at the ranger station.
Fort George Island Cultural State Park in Jacksonville offers a loop bicycle ride through history. Pick up a copy of the Fairway Loop Trail guide at the Little Talbot Island Ranger Station or in the brochure rack in front of the Ribault Club on Fort George Island. The loop is 4.4 miles and consists of paved road and hard-packed gravel. For off-road bicyclists, there is a 3-mile biking/hiking trail that traverses the interior of the former Fort George Island golf course. The trail is suitable for large-tire bikes.
In the springtime, the azaleas are blooming at Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka. A 1.8-mile paved road winds around the ravine, offering motorists and bicyclists a view of the gardens. The Ravine Loop is closed to vehicle traffic one hour before sunset but remains open for pedestrians, bicycles and wheelchairs.
At Myakka River State Park just east of Sarasota, bicyclists enjoy 7 miles of paved roads winding through shady hammocks and along grassy marshes and the shoreline of the Upper Myakka Lake. Maps are available at the ranger station. Rentals are available at the park’s concession.
The 1.9-mile park drive at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale is popular with bikers (and skaters too). The one-way loop keeps everyone moving in the same direction. Equipment rentals are available at the park’s concession, Park & Ocean.
Trees shade the trail at Fort George Island Cultural State Park.
Azaleas blooming along the park drive at Ravine Gardens State Park.
A person rides a bicycle on the park drive at Myakka River State Park.
A person riding an orange bicycle at Anastasia State Park.
Two people ride bikes on the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.
More Biking Opportunities
Mountain and Off-Road Biking
Mountain biking trails and off-road biking trails are popular in Florida. You’ll get the same strenuous workout without driving all the way to higher elevations.
We selected a few of the best state parks with mountain biking and off-road trails. Pack your gear and prepare for an adventure.
Three Rivers State Park in Sneads offers 9.7 miles of multiuse trails and paved roads.
With nearly 20 miles of off-road trails at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park in Alachua, bikers of all skill levels can enjoy a ride. Download a PDF map before you go.
The Santos Trailhead & Campground outside Ocala is a mecca for mountain biking. This park offers 80-plus miles of single-track bike trails for beginners and experts.
Radical elevations changes at Alafia River State Park just east of Tampa entice bikers to explore the steep grades and challenging trails at this park. Rentals available.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound offers the Camp Murphy Off-Road Bicycle Trail System with more than 9 miles of networked trails and loops rated for beginners all the way to black diamond, experts only. Rentals available.
Whether enjoying the 15 miles of off-road bicycling trails or paddling along lush mangrove forests, visitors are surprised that Oleta River State Park exists 30 minutes from downtown Miami. Equipment rentals are available at the park’s concession, BG Oleta River Outdoors.
A man rides his bike down an bridge at the Cross Florida Greenway.
A man rides a trail at Alafia River State Park.
View of the trail over the handlebars at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
A view of the Camp Murphy Bike Trail.
Two people wearing green shirts on a bicycle ride at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
State Designated Trails
Are you looking for long, straight paved trails? These provide great opportunities for riding your bicycle while avoiding traffic. These are shared trails so watch for walkers, runners and equestrians.
- Blackwater Heritage State Trail, 9 miles from Milton to Naval Air Station Whiting Field.
- Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, 90 miles along U.S. 1 through the Florida Keys.
- Gainesville to Hawthorne State Trail, 16 miles through Gainesville’s Boulware Springs Park and Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
- General James A. Van Fleet State Trail, 29.2 miles through the Green Swamp in Lake and Polk counties.
- Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway stretches 110 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River.
- Nature Coast State Trail, 32 miles along U.S. 19 from Cross City to Chiefland.
- Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail, portions of this trail are open and stretch 47 miles through Putnam, Clay, Bradford and Union counties.
- Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail, 19 miles through beautiful landscapes and scenic routes.
- Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. While this is a water trail, there are many biking opportunities along the 177-mile corridor.
- Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, 16 miles connecting Florida’s capital with the Gulf of Mexico.
- Withlacoochee State Trail, 46 miles through Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties.
A park ranger talks with a bicyclist on the Nature Coast State Trail.
Bike rack at the trailhead for the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail.
Several bicyclists ride towards the camera on the Withlacoochee State Trail.
Statewide Network of Trails
The Office of Greenways and Trails maintains an Online Trail Guide, which highlights recreational trails statewide (paved and unpaved) for hiking, biking, equestrian, multiple use, paddling, or motorized use (all- terrain vehicles, off-highway motorized vehicles, recreational off-highway vehicles). All trails are open to the public. This does not include on-road bike lanes or sidewalks.
Two children preparing for a bike ride. They are wearing bicycle helmets.
- If you are going for a bike ride, remember to wear a helmet. Florida law requires them for everyone under 16.
- Stay on designated trails. It might be appealing to take a shortcut, but you might be sidetracked or damage fragile plant life.
- Use the buddy system. It’s fun to share adventures with friends or family members.
- Study the maps. Know where you are going. Is the trail a loop where you will eventually end up back where you started or does it just go one way?
- Watch the weather and dress appropriately.
- Despite the cooler weather, you can still become dehydrated. Be sure to bring water and snacks for your outing.
- Bring sunscreen and bug spray.
- If the trail is multiuse, remember to be courteous to other users. Some trails are shared by hikers, bicyclists and horses. It can be dangerous if you don’t practice good trail etiquette.
- Do not litter. Remember to pack it in, pack it out.
This article was published in the Real Florida ℠ Connection, the Florida State Parks e-newsletter. Sign up to get updates and stories from your state parks the first week of every month.