The recently improved and reopened Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail inspired me to break out my bike and give it a go. First, I thought it best to wipe the mildew off the seat, squirt a little oil on the moving parts and put some air in the tires. As you might gather, I'm not a bicycle aficionado, but I always enjoy the pursuit once I get out.
I parked at the Wakulla Station trailhead and headed south since this is my favorite section due to its remoteness. Once past Highway 267, there is no traffic noise, and despite fears that widening the trail from eight feet to twelve feet might harm the trail canopy, it was immediately apparent that the leafy canopy is still intact. The trail and construction crew did a great job of putting in covered rest benches, restrooms and shaded picnic tables, too.
What was also a pleasant surprise was the water fountain put in by the Wakulla United Methodist Church along the trail. Being thirsty, that fountain seemed as sacred as the famous Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England. What a great way to promote goodwill among trail users!
Besides being a health boon to users who seek out the trail to bike, walk, jog, and roller blade the paved surface and to horseback ride on the parallel dirt path, the St. Marks Trail has proven to be an economic engine. When the trail closed for a spell for the resurfacing, restaurants in St. Marks felt the hurt and celebrated when their section of trail was reopened. According to Visit Tallahassee surveys, the trail ranks among the top eight area tourism attractions, and it has high approval ratings among users.
Florida Park Service Director Don Forgione summed up the importance of the 16-mile recreational corridor linking Tallahassee to the coast at the recent trail reopening dedication: "Trails are so much more than a corridor of pavement. They enhance communities, promote tourism and connect people to the local natural and cultural resources."
The St. Marks Trail, established twenty years ago, was the first paved rail-trail in the state trail system. Now, there are paved rail trails throughout the state, attracting millions of users every year. So, whether you walk, ride, jog, skate or horseback ride, check out the recently improved Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail!
For information on non-motorized trails statewide, check out the Visit Florida Trails and Greenways website.