Paved Shared-Use Trails of the Big Bend

by: Doug Alderson, Outdoor & Nature Expert

Paved shared-use trails are popular for those who want to walk, run or ride bikes in a relatively safe environment. The Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail is our foremost paved multi-use trail, stretching more than 20 miles from Florida State University to the town of St. Marks, but there are several other trails in the area worth exploring.

Within the Tallahassee city limits, check out the 1.5-mile Goose Pond Trail in Tom Brown Park. The curving path runs from the park's southeast tip to the northwest border. The adjacent Lafayette Heritage Park also boasts a wooded shared-use trail, though unpaved.

For a scenic rural trail, head east of Tallahassee to the town of Madison. The paved 12.3-mile Four Freedoms Trail ends at the lovely Withlacoochee River where you can have a picnic in a park before your return trip. Part of the trail ducks into a shaded canopy.

South of Tallahassee, along Springhill Road, visit the Trout Pond Trailhead for a 2.4 mile ride or walk through the expansive pine forests of the Apalachicola National Forest. This paved trail is part of the visionary Capital City to the Sea Trails, a planned series of connected paved trails throughout the region.

For some salty air, try the Ochlockonee Bay Trail from U.S. 319 to the Wakulla County park at Mashes Sands. Afterwards, sample the local seafood. It doesn't get any more fresh! For more salty air, you can also ride the 6-mile paved path that parallels the Gulf Beach Drive on St. George Island. Carrabelle, too, is developing a paved trail at the coast along U.S. 98.

West of Tallahassee, the 3.4-mile Blountstown Greenway Bike Path winds through the wooded environs of Blountstown and ends at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement. Wander through the  historic buildings in a rustic farm setting that provides a glimpse of 19th century rural living.

These trails and more offer exciting outdoor fun in our region. And as more shared-use paths are developed and connected to each other, the opportunities will only get better with time.

One of the best sources for information about paved trails is the Trail Link website sponsored by the Rails to Trails Conservancy: http://www.traillink.com/state/fl-trails.aspx. The Trailahassee website is a good source for local trails of all kinds: http://www.trailahassee.com/

Doug Alderson. Outdoor & Nature Expert from Tallahassee, FL Author:

Doug Alderson

Outdoor & Nature Expert

Bio:

Doug Alderson is the author of several books, including Waters Less Traveled: Exploring Florida's Big Bend Coast (University Press of Florida 2005), The Vision Keepers: Walking for Native Americans and the Earth (Quest Books 2007), New Dawn for the Kissimmee River: Orlando to Okeechobee by Kayak (University Press of Florida, 2009), Encounters with Florida's Endangered Wildlife (University Press of Florida, 2010), and his newest book, Wild Florida Waters: Exploring the Sunshine State by Kayak and Canoe (Earthways Press, 2011). Additionally, his articles and photographs have been featured in magazines such as Sea Kayaker, Coast and Kayak, Wildlife Conservation, American Forests, Sierra, Mother Earth News and Shaman's Drum. He has won several state and national awards for his books and magazine features. Doug also works as the paddling trails coordinator for the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails.

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