Jay B. Starkey Trail – Florida West
Better late than never, our 2011 Bicycle Road Trip to Florida’s West Coast Part 2 of 2
In 2011, Susan and I are on a road trip. While we have taken many road trips by flying to a location and renting a car . . . this one is a first.
This post is about the Jay B. Starkey and Sun Coast Trail. This earlier post is about the Withlacooche Trail, in the same area. There are also city trails and road/trail combinations.
We left from home in NY with our bicycles in the car. We took several days to get down to Florida, visiting various cities along the way.
In the next week we hope to ride the three big rail trails in the central western part of the state.
Today we started in Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, just east of Port Richey.
There are six to seven miles of bicycle trail in Jay B. Starkey park. The surface in the park and on the rail trail is asphalt with crushed stones embedded. The riding is flat and smooth, though not quite as smooth as 100% asphalt.
In the park, the scenery is nothing short of WOW!. It is not spectacular, but there is a strong urge to slow down and just soak in the atmosphere.
The riding is flat with mostly semi open vistas, like the one in the photo.
THE SUNCOAST TRAIL starts where the park trail ends. It runs six miles to the south and 33+ miles to the north.
The trail does run along the Sun Coast Toll Road…but sometimes swings off the highway for awhile. For most of this ride there was close up forest on one side and landscape (across the highway) forest on the other.
There are good stretches were you could even pace line if you wished.
We did a leisurely 30 miles along the two trails. However, you could do close to 100miles if you did the whole thing.
Sun Coast Trail – about 42 miles one way.
Wednesday 12/28/2011 – We rode the southern part of the Withlacoochee Rail Trail. Started in Ridge Manor, which, in itself is an ideal location.
The trail head is one mile from I 75 and only six miles north of the southern end of the trail. This means you could ride 39 miles to the northern end and back for a 78 mile ride.
There are also many roads that parallel and cross the trail, which would allow you to extend or alter your ride to suit.
A nice picnic area and restrooms are next to the parking lot.
The best thing we found was, that riding north from here was about the best scenery/riding distance combination of the trip. The photos, at the end of the post, do not give the trail justice.
Susan and I rode to Floral City, which has rest rooms, a gazebo, a quick mart type food store and a bike shop. Great place for a snack and turnaround for 35 miles. Or proceed to Inverness and return for 45-50 miles.
A great ride.
Thursday 12/29/2011 – We went touring this morning and did not get back to our hotel until mid afternoon. Although I had mapped out a road route to Jay B. Starkey park, it was too late in the day to be sure to get back before sundown. So, we got in the car and drove to the park. Got in a short 20 mile round trip through the park and part of the Sun Coast Trail, returning just before sunset.
We rode five out of six days. By keeping the rides in the 30+/- range (except today) we were able to thoroughly enjoy each ride without wearing ourselves out.
All the rides were worthwhile, as well as the drives to the starts.
Jay B Starkey and Sun Coast is what I would call…pretty warm up and cool down (in the park), with the exercise part on the Sun Coast Trail. It is by no means not pretty or interesting, just less so than the other rides. A six man pace line actually passed us today.
Pinellas Trail is varied, interesting and slow, with at least three nice turn outs to water views and a causeway/beach, all within 30 miles.
Start in Tarpon Springs and ride to Clearwater…where you need to turn left onto the side walk or street to pick up the remainder of the trail.
Withlacoochee Trail is the one for scenery and distance. It is also the one for combining rail trail with road riding.
Very beautiful area, luck you guys! If your near it (just southwest of Ocala) you may want to try riding around the Lady Lake area where the roads are made for cycling. Check out mapmyride.com for one of many routes there, if you have the time…it’d be worth the ride.