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Latest update: October 2018

Withlacoochee State Trail

A Top 10 Florida Bike Trail

The Withlacoochee State Trail is a 46-mile paved rail-trail and linear Florida State Park. The trail goes through small towns, the Withlacoochee State Forest, and other natural areas. It offers a variety of recreational opportunities with parks, river, and lake views. Uses include all varieties of cycling, walking, running, in-line skating, horseback riding, and access to a few fishing spots. Food and drink is available in the small towns along the trail. For a taste of "Old Florida," visit Istachatta and Floral City. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Withlacochee State Trail

Biking Map...
Withlacoochee State Trail


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End Points:  Owensboro to Citrus Springs
Mileage: 46 miles
Surface: Asphalt, 12'
Location: Hernando, Citrus, Pasco Counties
Trailheads (south to north): Owensboro, Trilby, Ridge Manor Trailhead, Silver Lake Campground, Townsen Lake Regional Park, Istachatta, Floral City, Inverness, Wallace Brooks Park (Inverness), Hernando, South Citrus Springs, Gulf Junction (North Citrus Springs). (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Withlacoochee State Forest, Fort Cooper State Park, Croom Wildlife Management Area, Withlacoochee River

Bike Shops/Rentals

Trailside Bike (Floral City)

David's World Cycles (Inverness)

Support and Advocacy

Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee

Biking the Withlacoochee State Trail... Comments and Photos

The entire 46 miles is paved, well marked with mile markers, and the surface is in good shape. Typical of rail-trails, there are not a lot of road crossings or driveways. Recumbent bicycles are especially popular here. If you have never been on a recumbent and would like to test one out, bicycle shops in both Floral City and Inverness have recumbent bikes for rent. A volunteer support organization does much to keep the trail in tip-top condition - support them and ride in style with a colorful Withlacoochee Trail tee shirt .


From South to North... Owensboro to Ridge Manor Trailhead (6 miles)

This trail section offers little shade, so plan accordingly. The southern terminus is at the community of Owensboro along US 301, about 5 miles north of Dade City. The trailhead has parking and a picnic table, but no other facilities. If you like quiet, rural bike rides, then the entire southern half of the Withlacoochee State Trail is for you. The only town along this section is tiny Trilby, about a mile north of the trailhead. Just before the Ridge Manor Trailhead, a trail bridge over SR 50 is a notable feature - bike the only "hill" on the trail.


Ridge Manor Trailhead

Ridge Manor Trailhead offers the only full facilities on this portion of the trail, with parking, picnic and restrooms. From here the trail becomes much more populated.


Ridge Manor Trailhead to Croom Road (5 miles)

The ride to Croom Road takes you through the Croom Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest. About 3 miles north of the Ridge Manor Trailhead, the trail passes under I-75, near the turn-off to Silver Lake Campground, along the Withlacoochee River. It then passes the intersection with the Good Neighbor Trail (a link on the Florida Coast to Coast Trail). At the intersection of Croom Road is an entrance to a series of mountain bike trails. (Updated: Oct. 2018)


Biking from Croom Road past Nobleton to Ischatta (5.5 miles)

A rural, forested section, mixed sun and shade. The trail passes just west of the old timber town of Nobleton. Check out Lake Townsen Regional Park just north of the intersection of CR 439 and CR 476 (part of the "Lake Townsen Reserve" as shown on Google maps), While not an "official" trailhead, the trail runs through the park and there is plenty of parking and full facilities. Across the trail from the park, look for an unpaved path leading to a fishing pier on the Withlacoochee River. Riding north from the park, it's just over 1/2 mile to the Istachatta General Store.


Biking from Istachatta to Floral City (7 miles)

The forest gives way to farms and ranches, but remains mostly tree-lined and a pleasant ride. The corner of US 41 and SR 48 in Floral City is a cross-section of "Old Florida." The local garden club has made this a very attractive trailhead, with a quaint trailside gazebo and flower garden. Trailside Bikes (formerly Hampton's Edge) is just across the street, specializing in the sales, service and rentals of recumbent bicycles and trikes. If you have ever wanted to try riding a recumbent, this is the bike shop and the Withlacoochee State Trail is the perfect place to do so.


Biking from Floral City to Inverness Trailhead (7 miles)

Between Floral City and Inverness, the trail passes an entrance to Fort Cooper State Park. In this section you ride closer to US 41. However, there is enough space to allow for some nice greenery and tall shade trees between the trail and the road. This provides a shadier, more pleasant close-to-road experience than most other roadside trails. Two miles south of the Inverness Trailhead, the trail takes you past two lakeside parks, plus another large lake. We enjoy biking this section through Inverness.


Inverness Trailhead, City Parks and Sights

Along the Withlacoochee State Trail in Inverness, Florida, bikers will find some scenic lake views and other intriguing sights, plus shopping, restaurants, and accommodations. Look for the red caboose by the Inverness Trailhead (near MM 30 N, 16 S; parking, restrooms, picnic area, and bike shop). The trailhead is across the road from the old Inverness train depot (now a restaurant) and just north of Liberty and Wallace Brooks city parks on the scenic Tsala Apopka chain of lakes.


Biking from Inverness to Hernando (5 miles)

Just north of the Inverness trailhead, you cross a canal joining two lakes. About 1 mile from the trailhead, you leave Inverness and pass under US 41. Here begins 1.5 miles of pleasant tree canopy before the trail leaves the shady woods and emerges next to US 41, just before Arlington Street. Bike another 1/2 mile to the Independence Highway crossing and you can gaze upon the only pink elephant on the trail. (See for yourself.) Continuing north, there is less space and greenery between the trail and road than is found south of Inverness. The Hernando Trailhead at CR 486 has parking, restrooms, and picnic tables. (Updated: March 2017).


Biking from Hernando  to Citrus Springs (6 miles)

The trail continues to parallel US 41 with a varying buffer, passing through light industrial areas, suburban areas, and short patches of woods. Central Ridge District Park links to the trail and provides parking, restrooms, playing fields. (Updated: March 2017)


Biking from Citrus Springs to Gulf Junction Trailhead (4.5 miles, Northern Terminus)

From here, the trail continues to parallel the highway with little or no shade before veering west through a Citrus Springs subdivision. There are a few more road crossings in this section, making us appreciate how relatively rare they are along the rest of the trail. With long straightaways, fewer (slow) recreational cyclists, and wide fields of view, road bikers seem to favor the last two miles.


Planned Extension

According to plans, the Withlacoochee State Trail will extend to the scenic, 2.5-mile Dunnellon Trail and the Cross Florida Greenway. Currently, the connection is a street route (about 2 miles). Plans call for a trail bridge over US 41 as part of this extension. As part of the Dunnellon Trail, a trail bridge over the Withlacoochee River is already in place (just east of Dunnellon).

Suggestions on the Best Trail Sections To Ride

For the best recreational biking, we recommend two trail sections of about 10 miles each. These connect at the Floral City Trailhead, near the center of the 46 mile trail. Although adjacent, these two sections are different in character. South of Floral City is mostly quiet, rural, and forested, taking you through a portion of the Withlacoochee State Forest. North of Floral City is more urban, featuring the scenic lakes and parks of Inverness, FL. For either section, you can park at the Floral City trailhead at the intersection of US 41 and SR 48. A bike shop is just across the street. For the northern 10 miles, also consider parking at the Inverness Trailhead near mile marker 30 N, 16 S (red caboose), 7.2 miles north of Floral City.

A Brief History

In 1884, Henry Plant completed a section of railroad that ran from Pemberton Ferry, on the banks of the Withlacoochee River to Inverness, FL. This was the final leg in Plant’s first "West Coast Route," connecting the Port of Tampa, FL to the Eastern seaboard. Pemberton Ferry was subsequently renamed Croom, which is now a Florida ghost town. Today, the "Croom Tract" is part of the Withlacoochee State Forest. Henry Plant's railroad holdings (the "Plant System") became the Atlantic Coast Line in 1902, the Seaboard Coast Line in 1967, and CSX Transportation in 1980. In 1989, CSX sold 46 miles of right-of-way between Gulf Junction (Citrus Springs) and Owensboro Junction to the State of Florida to establish the Withlacoochee State Trail. Reminders of the old railroad days include numerous cement mile markers (distance to Richmond, VA) and the Inverness Train Depot, built in 1892.


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