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Group Rides and Paved Trails
Sun Coast Parkway
"Meet you at the trail." Enough said. Everyone knows it, almost everyone has ridden it. A great place to do a ton of miles without having to deal with traffic --you can a ride a hundred miles out there with the new Starkey Park spur! It's hot (but what place isn't?) and the parking is tough on weekend mornings but you'll still ride there once in a while. If there's a tailwind on the way out, keep in mind that returning will be the closest you can get to a long climb in Florida. Good or bad, depending on how much you like to suffer.
Not just for mountain bikers. Flatwoods has a seven mile paved loop that is accessible from either Bruce B. Downs or Morris Bridge Road (Fletcher). A favorite of ours and all New Tampanians. There's water and bathrooms and the pave' is nice and smooth -- what more could you ask for? More miles you say? Contact your local politicians -- and while you're at it tell them you want ALL roads to have bike lanes and there should be strict penalties for drivers who behave aggressively toward cyclists. That's all. Ride and have fun. BTW, Flatwoods doesn't suffer from that killer headwind problem. Something to consider.
One of Tampa's Saturday morning ride hot spots. Dead flat and pretty darn fast. 45 miles or so -- stick around for the extension for an extra 20-30 miles -- ask on the ride. Starts at 7:30 in the summer and 8 the rest of the year. Call us for more details. Meet off Mapledale (behind the Lifestyles Fitness Center), in the Northdale area.
Well known and generally well attended Saturday group ride. Starts at 7a.m. year-round (if you didn't think Florida got cold, try this on a January morning), goes 50 miles. Meet at the Sweetbay on Temple Terrace Hwy -- near 301. Pretty fast -- very little eleveation change. Nice warm up and nice cool down.
Easy like Sunday Morning. Not really. They're not exactly mountains but if you didn't think that Florida had hills or that you could be dropped on them, this ride's for you. Up to 100 or so of the Bay area's most colorful peacocks strutting their stuff. Ride leaves at 8:00ish (UPDATE -- the ride has been rolling out earlier recently, sometimes at 8) -- it's kind of a critical mass start. Be ready. Parking is getting difficult, so carpool if you can, get there early if you can't. 40, 50 or 60 miles of scenery if you can relax enough to look around. Check the maps page.
Oliver's Thursdays -- from the shop
Meet here 6:15ish, roll out early or when everybody's ready. In the dark season, don't forget your lights. We're riding in Hunter's Green these days and occasionally Flatwoods. The pace is a nice aerobic 19-22 mph without jumps (theoretically). An hour and a half or so. Call for more details.
Mountain Bike Rides
Santos Trail (Bellview)
Some of the best mountain bike trails in Florida, 30+ miles of technical and mild single-track trails. There's also some sick free-ride stuff and dirts jumps. Fun for all. Definitely worth the trip.
Directions: From TAMPA,
Take I-75 N to exit #341 (Old 67)
Go Right (East) 2 miles to 475 a.k.a. S. Magnolia Ave
Left (North) on S. Magnolia Ave
Follow S. Magnolia Ave North 6 miles to S.E. 80th St.
Lots of fun, great after it's been raining and better than you remember! Florida’s longest continuous bicycle single-track officially opened March 1997, as the Withlacoochee Forest-Croom Off-Road Bike Trail. This network of single-track forms two loops of 12 and 35 miles. Actual trail length, including connectors, is over 55 miles. White signs mark the 35-mile loop with the international bicycle symbol in blue paint. There are bailout points at 8, 12 and 25 miles. The 12-mile loop marked with yellow signs, starts at the Tucker Hill fire tower. It is the most used trail because it is the easiest to find and the best marked. It is the best loop for new riders, but should be considered as intermediate level of difficulty. Bailouts are at 3 and 6 miles. There are three connector trails that allow combinations of the two loops. The connectors (red signs) total ten miles in length. By using the red trails one can ride 7,12,20,25,35,or 42 miles. Trail maps are on all kiosks.
Directions: From TAMPA,
Take I-75 N to exit #301 (Old 61)
Go Right (East) 1 mile to light Croom Rd (before Trail overpass Bridge)
Follow the road around all the turns…
Parking is ¼ mile past the Power Station.
LOYCE E. HARP PARK (FORMERLY CARTER ROAD) -- Lakeland
Carter Road Park Trail is approximately 8 miles in length. The trail is built on old phosphate land offering something for everyone from beginners to advanced riders. The trail meanders around scenic lakes up and down ridges with numerous wildlife encounters. Watch out for the notorious 14 foot gator known to the locals as "Big Mamma".
From Tampa: Take I-4 to the Polk Parkway. Get off at South Florida Ave. (exit 6) and head south approx. 4 miles to Carter Road which will be on your left by Walmart. Head east on Carter Road; Carter Road Park entrance on right 1/4 mile. From Hwy 60, head north on HWY 37 in Mulberry. Carter Road is approximately 5 miles on your right by Walmart. Park entrance 1/4 mile east.
The Alafia River State Park is quickly becoming one of the most favored off-road biking choices in Florida. Skilled riders are traveling from all over the state to ride this collection of scary drops, off-camber hillside ledges, high speed banked turns and intimidating ridge top trails. This single-track is built on the rugged terrain of a previously mined area. Currently there are about 14 miles of trails at Alafia.
The easiest (Green) loop is called Sand Pine and can be ridden as an out-and-back three mile ride or as a two mile loop riding back on the levee. The other Green trail is the River Loop, and is for experienced beginners. Although only three miles long (with bailouts at one-mile intervals), it feels longer because the trail has technical sections where roots or tight turns slow the pace and challenge the rider.
The intermediate (Blue) sections, Bridges and Rock Garden, are really fun with lots of medium-sized hills, some short and steep, with others more gradual for a speedy downhill. There are several very challenging sections along the blue trail (even for experienced riders) and the sudden drops, climbs, twists and turns are just plain fun to ride.
The Rollercoaster and Moonscape trails (Black) form a 4-mile advanced loop which MUST be ridden one-way. Gatorback and Rabbit Ears are very difficult shorter loops off Bridges and Sand Pine, respectively. These sections all include steep roller coaster dips, technical rocky sections and very difficult climbs and drops. Many of these have a steep, straight line descents followed by a short valley before the
trail climbs rapidly up the opposite side. It is a roller coaster sensation that takes your breath away and gives extra "G" forces as your swoop suddenly transitions from a dive into a climb. Not all of these are a straight line down and up. Some drops have relatively sudden turns. Knowing what to expect and controlling your speed accordingly is necessary here.
Several of the trail designers recently got together and laid out trail so extreme they had to come up with a new designation; "Double Black Diamond." These "extreme" sections will definitely be an E-ticket ride.
Directions: Traveling south from Tampa on I-75, take Apollo Beach Exit #246, go east 1 mile to SR-301 (first traffic signal). Turn right (south) go 1.5 miles. Turn left (east) onto SR-672 and continue 11 miles until the first STOP sign. Turn left (north) onto CR-39, go 1 mile to park's
main gate, on the right. Pay $2 entry fee and follow signs to trailhead.
Might be the bay area's best mountain bike experience and it's just around the corner from Alafia so why not do both in the same trip? Boyette Park is situated on 4,900 acres of upland scrub, located just south of Brandon. About a dozen lakes populate rolling grasslands at the far eastern end of the property, with the remainder being heavily covered with scrub-oak and pine.
On the east side of Boyette Road are 12 miles of beginner's level two-track circling the dozen or so lakes. Several intermediate level single-track loops branch off this main two-track. These loops are cut through the woods and along the lakes, and consists of moderately strenuous, more technically difficult trails. There are some open sections where a rider can gain speed, but for the most part, the trail is tight, twisty and tough. Oh yeah, it's also great fun. All trails have all been marked, cut, and groomed.
Most riders are familiar with the paved loop shared by road cyclists and rollerbladers, but few know of the single-track opportunities within the park. There are several miles of rideable two-track access roads criss-crossing within the center of the paved loop, great for a beginner. Running adjacent to these roads is a single-track trail linking the 1800 Trail at the east end of the park, to the flood control structure located at the far west end of the park.
All single-track is heavily shaded by oak and pine. There is also single-track and two-track towards the back (west end) of the park. These trails, in conjunction with the above trails, are used to complete a path through Flatwoods. This path is part of the Wilderness Loop that connects all three parks into a 19 mile continuous loop. For those using the Bruce B. Downs parking lot, there is single and double-track linking to the Wilderness Loop.
Miles & miles of primo single track. A challenging mixture of trails crossing three distinct ecosystems.There are ‘high ground’ trails of hard packed dirt, and some sand. All with plenty of shade from pine and scrub oak trees. Approximately 20% of the trails transverse this ecosystem, typical of a central Florida forest. These trails are very scenic, and are beginner and intermediate level trails.
Running up the center of the park is the ‘mid ground’. These trails are all hard pack dirt, heavily shaded by Oak, Sugar & Red Maple, and Palmetto Palms. Gorgeous scenery, but you are usually too busy concentrating on the trail ahead to see much. Some of the faster runs are here. Comprising approximately 40% of the trail system, these are intermediate level.
Running adjacent to the Hillsborough River and Cow House Creek are the ‘low lands’ (read swamp). Depending on the season, this area transforms from soft pack dirt to muck, with all the beauty and mystery of a tropical rain forest. These will be your most technical runs. There are numerous logs to navigate over or around, and closely spaced trees ready to snag a bar-end or pedal. About 20% of the park’s trails are these low lands. These trails will be closed during the wet season to protect the environmentally sensitive ground and plant life.
The most technical riding is in the crossover area between the mid & low ground. The soft ground has long since washed away from the base of the trees, leaving the roots exposed. The roots are of various diameters, running at all angles across the path. A rider may travel many feet, moving from root to root without touching terra ferma. The trails weave between the closely spaced trees, often allowing only inches clearance on either side of your bar.
Definitely technical runs, requiring a delicate balance of finesse and brute strength. These most challenging trails may only account for 20% of your distance traveled, but probably 50% of your time. One more thing: “you will get lost”.
Located between Flatwoods and Morris Bridge Park, this makes a great starting point for day of fun riding. There are only several miles of trail in Trout Creek, but they are very scenic. There are two lakes, with trails round the perimeter of each, plus a nice two-track section along a power line. In addition to the single-track, riders can use the levy to reach the flood control structure. This structure is used to cross the Hillsborough River, and is an integral part of the Wilderness Loop.
Also in Trout Creek Park are several large picnic pavilions next to the Hillsborough River. There is also a boardwalk and a canoe launch site.
All three parks have bathrooms, water and covered picnic tables. There are six parking lots dispersed along the Wilderness Loop. By using something other than the main parking area at Morris Bridge, the less congested sections of the trails can be easily accessed. This is most beneficial on weekends and holidays. Because of its proximity to Tampa, these trails can easily see 500 to 600 riders a week. All three parks are multi-use recreational facilities. However, Morris Bridge is primarily for hiking. A kiosk displays maps and trail information. Boxes containing information about the park and trails are attached to the kiosk .
TRAIL MAP FOR FLATWOODS, MORRIS BRIDGE AND TROUT CREEK