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Latest update: March 2018

Florida Eco-biking... Cross Florida Greenway

The Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway extends 110 miles covering 80,000 acres from the St. John's River to the Gulf of Mexico along the former Cross Florida Barge Canal - diggings of the canal can still be seen. More sections of trail are being paved, exciting news! There also are 244 miles of hiking and unpaved biking trails, equestrian trails, and a 36 mile segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Trailheads provide parking, some with restrooms and drinkable water. The Greenway is about a mile across with a very remote feel, but actually runs near busy residential and commercial areas in some sections. Note: Riders under 16 must wear helmets, everyone required to wear helmets on mountain biking trails. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Cross Florida Greenway

End Points: St. John's River (south of Palatka) to Withlacoochee Bay on the Gulf of Mexico (south of Yankeetown)
Mileage: 110 mile corridor; 29 miles paved trail, 244 miles of other trails,  36 mile segment of the Florida Trail, 65 miles of equestrian trails
Surface: Mixed (asphalt, packed dirt, gravel, sand)
Location: Citrus, Levy, Marion and Putnam Counties
Trailheads: Marshall Swamp, SE 64th Avenue, Baseline, Santos, Landbridge, SW 49th Avenue, Ross Prairie, Pruitt, Inglis Island, Withlacoochee Bay (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Ocala, Silver River and Silver Springs State Park, Ocklawaha River, Rainbow River and Rainbow Springs State Park, Withlacoochee River, Withlacoochee State Trail, Goethe State Forest, Crystal River

Bike Shops/Rentals

Greenway Bicycles (Ocala, Santos Trailhead)

Santos Bike Shop (Ocala, Santos Trailhead)

Blue Run Bikes (Dunnellon)

Support and Advocacy

Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation

Ocala Mountain Bike Association (OMBA)

CROSS FLORIDA GREENWAY... Comments and Photos

Recreational options include biking (both paved and mountain), hiking, horseback riding, hunting, camping, and fishing. Several nearby state parks, state forests, and rivers have yet more recreational opportunities. While much of the biking on the Cross Florida Greenway is better suited to mountain biking, more sections are being paved. Here we focus on 4 sections of paved trail available, east to west:

Baseline Loop Trail

A 5-mile, paved multi-use trail, including several loops, runs from the Baseline Trailhead to the 64th St. Trailhead. Past 64th St., the trail continues unpaved about 2.5 miles to the Marshall Swamp Trailhead.

Baseline Trailhead

The Baseline Trailhead, managed by Marion County, has parking, restrooms, picnic, concession, and features a Boundless Playground which allows children of all skill levels to play together.

 

Marshall Swamp Trailhead

The Marshall Swamp Trail (unpaved hiking) is about 5.5 miles round-trip. The trailhead has parking, restrooms, picnic.


Santos Trailhead to CR 200

This is the newest paved section (2018) - at 15 miles this is popular with road bikers (evidenced by posted speed limits), and many zipped past us. This is a mostly easy ride, with some hills and curves. Mixed sun and shade. There are some road crossings, but underpasses at major roads are a nice feature. There are several trailheads with parking to choose from, some with other facilities. Mountain biking trails, the Florida Trail, and equestrian trails criss-cross and parallel the paved trail and are well marked.

 

Santos Trailhead

The Santos Trailhead has parking, restroom and showers, drinkable water, picnic pavilions, equestrian staging area, camping, and a pump track.

Santos is the base for the Ocala Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) which developed and maintains the Santos trails - 60+ miles and growing, including singletrack, dirt jumps, pump track and more. The Santos bike trails have been honored by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) as a bronze-level Ride Center, one of only seven in the world.


 

Santos Trailhead to Landbridge Trailhead

From Santos, the paved trail runs about 6.5 miles to the Landbridge Trailhead - passing the Vortex (a freeride area, for experienced mountain bikers only). The paved trail is mostly shaded with just a couple of open sections, and includes two underpasses (CR 475 and CR 475A).


 

Landbridge Trailhead

The Landbridge Trailhead has paved parking, restrooms, drinkable water, picnic tables, and a large equestrian staging area.


 

Landbridge Trailhead to the Landbridge

From the Landbridge Trailhead is about 1.1 miles to the Florida Landbridge - a spiritual must-do for all Florida cyclists (or at least for those who have driven I-75 between Ocala and Wildwood). Shared by bikers, hikers and equestrians, the Landbridge is lined on both sides by 4.5 foot planters, fully irrigated and landscaped with native Florida vegetation. A viewing area is at the center. Remember, hikers and equestrians have the right-of-way.


 

Landbridge to 49th Avenue Trailhead

From the Landbridge, it's about 2.5 miles to the 49th Avenue Trailhead. Mixed shaded and sunny sections on the trail. The trailhead has dirt parking, an equestrian parking area, picnic tables and a port-a-potty. From the parking lot, a quarter mile connector leads to the paved trail.


 

49th Avenue Trailhead - West to CR 200

This section runs about 5.5 miles, passing the Shangri-La Trailhead and Campground and ending at CR200 just north of Ross Prairie Trailhead. This section is less shady, with some curves and rolling hills. Two underpasses - at SW 49th Ave. and at CR 484 - are a bonus. The route runs between two highly developed residential areas, but you'd never know it from the quiet surroundings.


 

Shangri-La Trailhead and Campground

At Shangri-La is a day-use bike and equestrian trailhead with restrooms, drinkable water, picnic facilities. The campground has 24 sites and a bathhouse. There's no direct access to the paved trail, so we rode an OMBA trail - rated "Easiest" - to explore the route. Ours are not mountain bikes, but with fat tires we were able to manage the trail.


 

Ross Prairie Trailhead

There is no direct access from Ross Prairie Trailhead to the paved trail, but rather via unpaved trails - or it's about a mile north on CR200 from the trailhead to the paved trail entrance. The day-use trailhead includes parking, restrooms, drinkable water, and an equestrian staging area. The campground has 14 sites with water and electricity. The area is adjacent to the Ross Prairie State Forest.


Dunnellon Trail

The Dunnellon Trail runs 2.5 miles along the Rainbow River including a bridge across the Withlacoochee River. The ride along the Rainbow River is very scenic. The Withlacoochee River bridge seems to appear out of nowhere, with great river views from several observation decks. Parking is available at three trailheads: at CR39 just off US41 in Citrus Springs; at Blue Run Park off CR484 in Dunnellon, and on Bridges Road (down the dirt road, just past the playing fields) in Dunnellon. Eventually, will link to the Withlacoochee State Trail (currently, an on-road link) and planned state-wide trail network. View a detailed map of this trail

Bridges Road Trailhead to Withlacoochee River Bridge - Scenic ride along the Rainbow River. A link goes to the Blue Run Park trailhead.


Withlacoochee River Bridge to US41 Trailhead - Mixed shade and sun to the US 41 trailhead. The trail ends about .2 miles further at CR39 and the road route to the Withlacoochee State Trail.

Withlacoochee Bay Trail

The Withlacoochee Bay Trail is the westernmost end of the Cross Florida Greenway. It runs 6.2 miles from the Withlacoochee River east of the Felburn Park Trailhead (off US rte. 19 about 12 miles north of Crystal River) to Withlacoochee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Many pavilions along the trail offer shade, rest, and views of the canal, as well as marshes and wetlands. View a detailed map of this trail

 

More About the Cross Florida Greenway:

The Cross Florida Barge Canal was started in 1964 as a commercial shipping channel across Florida. Construction was halted by presidential order in the 1970's and in 1990 the project was officially deauthorized by Congress and ownership transferred to the State of Florida as a public recreation and conservation area. The Greenway was renamed in honor of environmentalist Marjorie Harris Carr who spearheaded opposition to the barge canal in order to save the Ocklawaha River. The terrain is diverse, from prairie to sandhill, maritime hammock and salt marsh. A wide range of wildlife include many birds, deer, turkey, bobcat, bear, alligators, fish and more.

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