Rails to Trails
When we asked Floridians to name their favorite trails in the state, two things became clear: they know their favorites, and they're passionate about them. And who wouldn't be, with the beautiful, flat terrain, and diverse plant life and fauna that can be seen and enjoyed every month of the year?
To culminate our tribute to Florida, we are pleased to present this list of top trails in Florida.
And may we add: some of the trails are close to your vacation rental! (RailsToTrails.org)
|The Nature Coast State Trail (NCST) is a 31.7-mile long segment of Florida`s Statewide System of Greenways and Trails System built along abandoned railroad tracks and designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Recreation Trail. It has two primary sections following unused rail lines. It includes historic sites such as an old train trestle bridge over the Suwannee River near Old Town and train stations in Trenton, Cross City, and Chiefland. At Wilcox Junction abandoned rail tracks cross and connect with several communities. The trail is available to hikers, cyclists, and horse riders.
|46 miles - Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties
One of the longest rail-trails in the state at 46 miles, the Withlacoochee boasts 10 trailheads, information kiosks, artwork, parks and plenty of local eating and drinking establishments as it winds through six localities.
For history nuts, there are remnants of the trail`s early railroad days, including cement mileage and whistle markers, the Lake Henderson Trestle and a restored 1925 caboose (at the Inverness trailhead). And for those of you curious about the name (we certainly were), "Withlacoochee" is an American Indian word meaning "crooked river" - a designation given to the body of water, now a state paddling trail, that parallels the pathway.
|West-side of resort - less than 1 mile
|The Good Neighbor Trail runs for just over 10 miles from Brooksville to the Withlacoochee State Forest in western Florida, following the route of the former Florida Southern Railroad Line.
The western end of the trail begins in downtown Brooksville, south of Russell Street, in what was once was a railroad switching yard. Here, the Brooksville Train Depot, dating back to 1885, is open a few days a week for visitors. Inside are historical exhibits and model trains; outside, you`ll find an 1880s rail car and picnic pavilions.
On its eastern end, the trail connects to the Withlacoochee State Trail, which links several cities, parks, and wildlife areas along its 46-mile length.
|Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail is a rail trail in Florida. It is protected as a 16-mile long Florida State Park and runs from the City of Gainesville`s Boulware Springs Water Works to the town of Hawthorne. It passes through the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area along a former Seaboard Coast Line Railroad line. The property was purchased by the state of Florida from CSX Transportation with money from the "trails from rails" program in late 1989.
|The Withlacoochee Bay Trail traverses 5 miles west from the Felburn Park Trailhead to the Gulf of Mexico, along the southern side of the former Cross Florida Barge Canal. This 12-foot wide, multi-use paved trail runs adjacent to the barge canal for the first 2.5 miles and then switches its path to the south side of the "berm" that was created by the canal`s excavation. The westernmost 2.5 miles of the trail runs through scenic maritime hammock and salt marsh habitats. Bicycling, walking or inline skating on the paved trail provide numerous opportunities to observe wildlife along the route.