We’re so pleased to bring you a new blog post from one of our homeowners. They have written a fantastic guide to cycling in Central Florida for us. Over to them…
On the trail in Florida: a cyclist’s paradise
One of the joys of spending time in Florida is going outside at pretty much any time of year without having to put on layers of clothing.
For those among you who love nothing more than feeling the wind in your helmet, there are now so many places to get out on your bike in safety. And they offer some pretty good scenery to enjoy as well.
I started off local while just getting used to a new bike bought from Epic Cycles in Clermont. I started getting back to more regular cycling after a few long, cold and dark months in the UK.
Initially, I just pedalled round our sub-division, Orange Tree, where the roads are quiet. It’s possible to do a circuit of 7.2km/4.5miles – route here.
I then went further afield, following the route of the SR27 cycle lane. Insider tip: cycle on the sidewalk not the SR27 cycle lane itself, as that looked pretty dirty – a puncture waiting to happen, as well as being very close to a lot of fast-moving traffic.
If you would like to check out this route, you can find it here.
These local routes are great, but for the best scenery, you need to stow your bike in/on your car and drive to the truly quiet, safe and beautiful Trails. You’ll find there are plenty of places to park at the trailheads, which are about every 10 miles along the trail.
There are over 100 trails in Florida, and you can find them all on this website grouped into 9 Regions, all with Regional overview maps. They’ve recently added reports on (fat-tyre) “eco-biking” and hiking trails.
South Lake Trail and the West Orange Trail
Some of the best trails in the Central Florida region include the South Lake Trail and the West Orange Trail. These intersect to create a route of 36 miles of continuous Central Florida biking through Lake and Orange Counties.
This was the route I took.
Portions of the 13-mile-long South Lake Trail near Clermont are particularly scenic, with views along Lake Minneola and other lakes.
West Orange Trail is a world-class rail trail through urban and suburban sections of Orange County. It is popular for all types of biking, in-line skating, running and walking. “Outposts” and “Stations” along the trail provide parking and facilities. There are toilets along the way.
A spur at Killarney Station connects to the South Lake Trail. Both of these trails are part of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail. You can see the route I took here.
One of the glorious towns on the route is Oakland. Here, venerable old trees around the town are draped in Spanish moss. There are several historic buildings to admire and you can cycle down side streets to view Lake Apopka.
The next stop is the little town of Winter Garden. This gets busy at weekends. Nevertheless, the trail goes right through its centre. The bike trail has completely revitalized downtown, which now features at least two bike shops and numerous restaurants. The trail runs through the Clock Tower and past the Pavilion.
The Hancock Trail
Another of my favourite routes is the Hancock Trail.
This starts near the National Training Center at South Lake Hospital. It hosts Olympic athletes and provides Triathlon Training for athletes from around the country.
The Hancock Trail even boasts a hilly area (well, hilly by Floridian standards!). People come from a long way away to ride this trail. Sugarloaf Mountain Rd is the highest point in the area. One possible start/finish point for the route is Killarney Station, Clermont.
More information about the routes can be found here. Alternatively, this can be a continuation from the north end of Hancock Trail.
I cycled pretty much every day when we were in Florida during January and February and I can’t wait until we are able to come back and discover more.
If you don’t have your own bicycle…
If you don’t have a bike, there’s no reason to miss out!
Our home is about 14 miles south of the beautiful town of Clermont, which is situated on Lake Minneola and has lovely places to shop, walk and yes, cycle. I recommend the Epic Cycles bike shop, right on the waterfront, with a very pleasant café and bike sales aplenty, (as we discovered!) and extremely helpful staff.
If you need to rent a bike, try Clermont Bicycles. They have high-quality road bike and comfort bike rentals by the half day, day and week.
We’d like to thank our home owner for this fantastic cycling guest blog post.