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Latest update: February 2019

Legacy Trail... Venice to Sarasota

A Top 10 Florida Bike Trail

The Legacy Trail runs along an old Seaboard Railroad corridor from Venice (mm 0.0) north to Sarasota (mm 10.75). Many more miles are planned. (Stay tuned, a 1.5 mile extension is now underway.) Well maintained and almost entirely straight, the bike trail begins at the historic Venice Train Station and heads north. At about the half-way point, the trail passes through Oscar Scherer State Park, ending just south of Sarasota. Much of the trail is tree-lined, providing nicely shaded sections, shelter from the wind, and a mostly quiet, rural feel. Causeways over small bays offer pleasant water views. With the completion of two trail bridges over major roads (at Hwy 41 and Laurel Road), the Legacy Trail has emerged as one of the more enjoyable bicycle rides in Florida. (Map and photos below.)

Legacy Trail

Bike Map... Legacy Trail


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End Points: Venice Avenue in Venice to Culverhouse Nature Park (south of SR 72) in Sarasota
Mileage: 10.75 miles (and growing). Connects to the Venetian Waterway Park Trail (eastern section), 4 miles
Surface: Asphalt, 12 feet
Location: Sarasota County
Trailheads: Legacy Park at the Historic Venice Train Depot, Patriots Park, Nokomis Community Center, Nokomis Riverview Park, Laurel Park, Oscar Scherer State Park, Osprey Junction, McIntosh Road, Culverhouse Nature Park (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Historic Venice Train Depot, Oscar Scherer State Park, Circus Museums at Ringling Museum (Sarasota)

BIKING ALONG THE LEGACY TRAIL... Comments and Photos

Old railroad mile markers are quaint reminders of the Legacy Trail's past. The number displayed is the distance to Richmond, VA. "Stations" with covered benches are located every mile or so. Restrooms and water are at most trailheads. Local parks offer full facilities, playgrounds, and picnic areas. There are relatively few road crossings, and trail bridges take riders over the most hazardous.

Legacy Trail... from South to North

Venice Train Depot to Oscar Scherer State Park (about 5.3 miles)

Heading north, we believe most people will find the first half of the Legacy Trail to be the most interesting section. It is certainly the most diverse. Here, riders cross three waterways and two major trail bridges, before reaching the surrounds of Oscar Scherer State Park. Heading south, a short connector past the depot leads to the Venetian Waterway Park Trail.


A Convergence of Two Trails

An 8' multi-use trail is the main feature of Venetian Waterway Park, a linear park along on both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway. On the east, or mainland side, a 4-mile trail section ends just south of the Historic Venice Trail Depot. Here, a 1/4 mile connector ("Catlin Crossing") leads to the depot and the official beginning of the (12' wide) Legacy Trail. Worth a look.


Historic Venice Train Depot

The Venice Seaboard Air Line Railway Station was built in 1927, with rail service ending in 1971. Restored in 2003, the station boarding area now serves as a bus depot. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, tours are available. Parking for both the Legacy Trail and Venetian Waterway Park is immediately adjacent at Legacy Park (water, restrooms, picnic pavilions, kayak/canoe launch). On the north side of the depot, check out the restored caboose and statue of circus performer Guenther Gebel-Williams, the "Greatest Wild Animal Trainer of All Time."


Train Depot to Nokomis Park Trailhead

The bridge over the US 41 Bypass in this section is a huge benefit. A scenic causeway spans Roberts Bay.


Nokomis Park Trailhead to South Creek

Another causeway spans Dona Bay. Several parking options in this section. A trail bridge over Laurel Road is the newest addition. (We found it to be a little steeper than most, but no complaints!) Oscar Scherer State Park begins just north of the Rte. 681 underpass, a very serene section.


Oscar Scherer State Park

Legacy Trail at South Creek

Crossing South Creek within Oscar Scherer State Park is a trail bridge and an old trestle bridge - the last remaining of the original 1911 trestles. Just over the bridge is an entrance to the State Park, with parking, picnic area, and many off-road trails (mostly hard-packed, but plenty of soft sand patches) - pay entrance fee at the pay station.


More on Oscar Scherer State Park

The 1,400 acre State Park has parking, restrooms, camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, playground, and kayaking on South Creek. There are about 15 miles of marked hiking and biking trails (best for fat-tire bikes). The park is an important habitat for the endangered Florida Scrub Jay.

Also visit us here: Kayaking at Oscar Scherer State Park


Oscar Scherer State Park to Northern Terminus (about 5.4 Miles)

Beyond the State Park entrance, the Legacy Trail continues for about 1.5 miles before leaving the Park. There are no notable natural features beyond this point. The trail continues through the massive Palmer Ranch subdivision. Yet even here, there's a 50' natural buffer on both sides until merging parallel to McIntosh Road, shortly before the end point. There are only a couple of residential road crossings, and typically fewer people on the trail here, so road bikers may have an opportunity to pick up the pace. Keep in mind the 15 mph speed limit.


State Park to McIntosh Trailhead

This section maintains a rural feel, though many of the once-open fields are now being developed into new subdivisions - the wide, mostly tree-lined buffer masks the surroundings. A 2/10 mile path leads to the McIntosh Road trailhead. As this path may seasonally flood, an alternative is to bike on the sidewalk along McIntosh Road for 350 yards to the trail access point.


McIntosh Trailhead to Culverhouse Nature Park

The road crossing at Palmer Ranch Road can be busy at times. The northern end of the trail is just past Culverhouse Nature Park, but an initiative is underway to extend the trail to Fruitville Road in Sarasota with funding and right-of-way being secured.


Help Extend the Legacy Trail

Get Your Square Feet Here . With your donation, you will fund specific square feet of the Phase 1 trail extension. You will receive a Certificate of Appreciation by email with the GPS location of your square feet. Your name and donation (listed as Anonymous if you prefer) will be listed on the Friends of the Legacy Trail donor list. 100% of the money received by FLT from this campaign will be used to help fund construction of the Legacy Trail extension and its amenities. Thank you FLT, Mudfish and Bobcat applaud your innovative efforts.

Legacy Trail Certificate

Resources:

Sarasota County Government - The Legacy Trail

Legacy Trail Surrey Program - a wonderful way for our elderly or mobility-challenged to enjoy the trail

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