Our Northwest neighborhoods are home to a number of trails and bike lanes perfect for a bike ride.
Chances are, however, that you have ridden many of these routes over and over again. Now that cooler weather is on the horizon, why not head out and try a new cycling route? Tampa Bay is chock-full of bike-friendly trails for riders of all levels. Below we list a few of our favorites.
Location: Stretches from Armature Works to the intersection of Channelside and Beneficial drives in downtown Tampa
Take in the glorious downtown Tampa skyline along this concrete trail that hugs the Hillsborough River. This is the place for a leisurely ride, as you’ll share this popular downtown thoroughfare with walkers, skate boarders and tons of four-legged friends. Notable stops along the route include Armature Works, the Straz, Curtis Hixon Park, Glazer Children’s Museum, Tampa Museum of Art and the Florida Aquarium. Parking is available at Armature Works, along Doyle Carlton Drive at Water Works Park, across the river at Julian B. Lane Park, the Florida Aquarium (for a fee) and various garages and metered spots in downtown Tampa.
Courtney Campbell Trail
Location: Starts at Cypress Drive in Tampa and ends at Bayport Drive in Clearwater
If you are looking for a bit of a biking challenge that also boasts fantastic views, this is the trail for you. It runs parallel to the Courtney Campbell Causeway, so it can get pretty windy as you cross the open water. There is also a seriously steep portion of the bridge (a 45-foot incline), but the views are well worth it. Not up to the challenge? If you start from the Tampa side, you could easily turn around before the big bridge to spare your thighs. On the Tampa side, parking is available at Cypress Point Park and Ben T. Davis Beach.
Upper Tampa Bay Trail
Location: Stretches from Montague Street off Memorial Highway to Lutz Fern Lake Road
This scenic trail in our neck of the woods is known as one of Tampa Bay’s best urban trails. The wide asphalt path easily accommodates a mix of cyclists, walkers and runners. Trailheads in our area feature long stretches of shade and numerous stopping points to rest. The southernmost access point for the 16.5-mile trail can be found on Montague Street, just off Memorial Highway in Tampa. From there, the trail snakes north, ending in Lutz. There are six access points along the trail, and at each there is a $2 charge for parking.
Location: Starts at Sheldon Road, ends at George Road dead end
This 3-mile asphalt trail is perfect for families or those looking for a leisurely bike ride. It’s never too congested and it runs adjacent to one of the canals that cuts through Town-n-Country. Parking is available on Webb Road just south of Woodbridge Boulevard, and also on the east side of Hanley Road between Hillsborough and Waters avenues. This trail can also be accessed from the Shimberg Sports Complex.
The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail
Location: Stretches from downtown St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs, with an additional 5-mile stretch extending into Pasco County
If you’re looking to explore Pinellas County by bicycle, this nearly 50-mile trail will do the trick. The multi-use trail stretches from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg, creating a unique, protected green space for walking, jogging, skating and biking. It is also a great way to see the sights in our neighboring county. Enjoy Greek food in Tarpon Springs, take a side trip over to Honeymoon Island, stop for a cold one at a Dunedin brewery and take in the murals in St. Pete. Parking is available at numerous spots along this route. For a trail guide, including access points, visit www.pinellascounty.org/trailgd/default.htm.
Flatwoods Park Trail
Location: Starts at Flatwoods Park entrance on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, ends at Morris Bridge Road
This paved trail is located within Flatwoods Park in New Tampa. The 7-mile, multi-purpose loop trail showcases Florida in all of its natural glory and also offers numerous opportunities to view a wide range of wildlife, including armadillo, birds of prey and deer. Those looking for a bit more adventure can link up with the Wilderness Park Off Road Trail System, a single-track woods trail with a natural surface and shady canopy. The 20-mile main trail and 15 miles of side trails traverse the Trout Creek, Morris Bridge and Flatwoods areas. Parking is available at both the Morris Bridge and Bruce B. Downs entrances to Flatwoods Park.
Alafia River State Park
Location: Bike trails are located within Alafia River State Park in Lithia
For a true off-road challenge, head to Alafia River State Park. Once a phosphate mine, the topography here includes steep grades, challenging trails and some of the largest elevation changes in the state. The bicycle trails at Alafia River bear the International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic designation. Trails range from beginner to highly advanced and there is a full-service bike shop on site that offers rentals and repair services. There are two parking lots within close proximity of the park’s bike trails.
For more detailed information on these trails, including route maps, trail access points and trail reviews, visit www.traillink.com. Happy cycling!
By Karen Ring