Saturday, March 11, 2017

Biking the Seminole Wekiva Trail

This is a very popular trail; the ride was on a Thursday morning there were quite a few people along the way.  Not so many that it felt crowded, but there were more people than I expected. It’s popular for a good reason… this is a great riding trail.

Trail View
Trees provide shade along most of the trail

I started this ride at Lake Mary Blvd because I didn’t see the trailhead (with parking) at the southern trailhead on 436.  There is a parking area there, so if you’re heading down this way, it is a good place to start

One of the most interesting features along the trail is all of the art along the way.  The fences that adorn the trail are part of “Paint the Trail” – a project that is lead by artist Jeff Sonksen.  I’m not sure if he is the only artist, but he is definitely the main contributor.  I found a news article from 2014 that says there are 500 murals that span a half of a mile – that was 3 years ago, and I think there are a lot more now. (Click on any image for a larger version).

Paint the Trail-1 Paint the Trail-2 Paint the Trail-4

There are few murals like this one too.

The southern portion of the trail runs alongside the Little Wekiva River which is fed by three nearby springs.  There are a few short walking trails that head towards the river from the bike trail that offer some really nice views of a crystal clear creek.

Little Wekiva River-1
Spring fed Little Wekiva River

The full ride was about 17.5 miles, and there are several drinking fountains and restrooms along the way.  If you would like to see the technical details of the trip, click on the “Wikiloc” logo on the map.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Biking the Lake Monroe Loop

When I first saw this ride on Florida’s Natural Wonders blog, I had to check it out.  I did the full loop and really enjoyed this ride.  For me, this was almost exactly 29 miles, but I also took a few short detours to ride through the parks that I passed.

Green Spring-2
Green Spring at Green Spring Park

I started my ride at the eastern end of the Sanford River Walk; about a mile past the Marina the sidewalk ends and the ride continues along the road with a small bike lane.  I thought it was interesting that there is a button to push that lights up a caution/warning sign to let traffic know that I was coming onto the road.  Railroad drawbridge

I continued along the road until I got to the old Lake Monroe Bridge (now a fishing pier). Near that spot is a drawbridge for the railroad that looks pretty neat.  I think the two large grey structures are a counterweight to help with lifting the drawbridge.

Trail to Gemini SpringI crossed the 17-92 bridge – there is a very wide shoulder, and earlier along the road there was a sign saying to “share the road”, so I was comfortable that it was okay to take a bike across.Trail view-1

Lake Monroe Park is just on the north side of the bridge; this is where the trail to Gemini Spring starts.  I didn’t know it until I was riding around the park, but there’s a nice little campground back here with electric and water hookups.

Gemini Spring-1The to Gemini Spring is a fantastic ride – great scenery and a trail that winds back and forth through the trees.  It’s only about a 3 mile segment, but it’s worth coming back for a short ride.

Trail view-2From Gemini Spring, the trail picks up a new name:  The Spring to Spring Trail.  If followed the trail to the east until I arrived at I-4.  There are a couple of fast food places by the interstate, so I stopped for lunch before continuing on the Green Spring Park.  The trail runs alongside of Debary Ave. for quite a ways, but eventually turns off to the right where the scenery  gets a little nicer.

Bridge over 415Green Spring is pretty amazing – the turquoise water with a tree leaning over it looked very inviting for a swim until I noticed the “no swimming” sign.  Hard to believe a spot this perfect for jumping into the water, but I guess there’s a reason that it’s not allowed.  This, by the way, is a good spot to refill the water bottle… I passed at least six drinking fountains up to this point, and this was the last one until the trip is nearly complete. 

WWI Monument signFrom Green Spring Park, the trail continues on to SR-415 where a pedestrian bridge crosses the road.  On the far side of the bridge is a small WWI memorial with an information placard. I had never made the connection between the epidemic of 1918 and WWI, but one of the men mentioned on this placard died before he even left boot camp.

St Johns River from Bridge-1One thing to be aware of if you make this trip… when heading south, you will want to be on the east side of SR-415.  There is a sidewalk on the west side of the road, but it doesn’t go all the way to the bridge that crosses the St. Johns River.  This leg of the journey was, to be honest, not all that great.  It’s just a straight line with not much to look at (and I was fighting a strong headwind all the way).

After crossing the river, take the first right hand turn (Celery Ave).  For a little less than 2.5 miles, this road has no sidewalk or bike lane, but the traffic isn’t bad.  Celery Ave eventually intersects with Melonville Ave. at the first traffic light.  From here I headed north and completed the loop.  Overall, this is a pretty fantastic ride. 

If you would like to see more photos, I’ve shared them in my “Rails to Trails” gallery.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Biking Cady Way Trail

Cady Way Trail starts where the Cross Seminole Trail leaves off, and goes to the southwest for about six and a half miles where it ends at Fashion Square Mall.

Tree Tunnel
Tree Tunnel on Cady Way Trail

About two miles southwest from the Orlando Magic Recreation Center,is the bridge that crosses over Semoran Blvd.  Going up the bridge is the most challenging part of the ride, and coming down is the fastest. I was coasting down the bridge fast enough that pedaling didn’t add any more speed.  I have to give this part of the ride five stars just for fun.Neighborhood Pond

Along the way on the trail there are four shaded pavilions with water fountains (the one by the mall also has bicycle tools), and the trail also passes by several parks that also have restrooms.  

Vietnam Veteran MemorialOn the way back from the end of the trail, I took a side loop to ride around Lake Baldwin.  The lake has a really nice dog park on the northwestern shore, and on the northern shore is the Orlando Veteran’s Memorial Park with several memorials recognizing veterans from all branches and specific conflicts.

On the return trip from Lake Baldwin, I felt the burn going up the bridge again, but one the way down, go for full speed because there’s a half mile to go before crossing traffic.

This whole ride was only about 15.4 miles long, and with several parks along the way, it could easily be broken down into smaller pieces.  The Lake Baldwin loop is a big highlight of the trip – I could have easily spent more time at the dog park watching the pups play in the water, and the veteran’s memorial park is good spot to visit.

More photos are available in my Rails to Trails gallery

Lake Baldwin Dog Park-1
Lake Baldwin Dog Park
Lake grass
Water Grass at Lake Baldwin

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Sunday, February 05, 2017

Biking the Little Econ Greenway

This trail is my new favorite local spot for biking.  It’s an eight mile trip out and back, and follows the Little Econ River almost all of the way.

Iron Bridge
Iron Footbridge Across the River

There are a bunch of places along the trail to park, but I wanted to start at one end of the trail for an out and back ride, so I parked at a Walgreens on the eastern side began my ride at the trailhead near there.Trailhead Map

At the beginning of the trail is a small pavilion with a water fountain (bonus – it includes a doggy water fountain as well) with a map of the trail.  The first portion of the trail passes over a couple of bridges and alongside a school before crossing Rouse Road. After Rouse Road, the trail enters Jay Blanchard Park.

Fishing bridgeThe park is where the trail first joins up with the river.  Just behind the YMCA, there is a bridge that looks like a popular fishing spot.  Today there were about half a dozen people with their lines in the water.  I rode to the other side of of the bridge to see what was there, but all I found was another field.  There was a gate that prevented me from entering the neighborhood to the north of the river.Birds by the river

Keep an eye on the river as you go by and you’re sure to see a lot of water fowl, and maybe even a gator or two.  There were no gators spotted on this trip, but I know they are there.   There are also a few footbridges to cross along the way (like the iron bridge at the top of this post), and a couple of spots where street bridges pass over the trail.

The whole trail offers a lot to see along the way and even though there were a lot of people enjoying a walk or ride, it was not at all crowded.  With the trailhead only about fifteen minutes from home, I think I’ll be spending more time at this spot.

More photos are available in my Rails to Trails gallery

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

Biking the Cross Seminole Trail North from Oviedo

The trailhead for this section of the trail is in Oviedo just north of the intersection of N. Central and E. Broadway.  There is plenty of parking at the strip mall across the street.

Baseball Statue
Statue in the middle of Central Winds Park

Rest stop at 417This section of the Cross Seminole Trail is shaded for the majority of the ride.  The first point of interest along the way is a rest stop on the west side of 417, about a mile and a half from the trailhead in Oviedo.  The information signage talks about our sister county in Ireland… it’s interesting to read how this county relationship works to open opportunities across the pond.  Also at this rest stop is a drinking fountain and a few benches – good spot to fill up if the water bottle is getting low.Covered bridge

A little further along there is a branch in the trail that leads to the trailhead off 434.  Keep to the left here and continue for another mile and the trail crosses the Howell Creek Trestle.  This is a nice spot for a quick break and a few photos. 

Gee Creek BridgeAbout a mile past the trestle, the trail crosses over 434 and then passes Winter Springs Town Center before leaving the cover of the trees.  I passed by Central Winds Park and noticed an interesting statue out in the middle of the ball fields.  I just had to walk out and grab the picture at the top of this post.

After the park, there is one last bridge to cross before coming to the end of this section of the trail.  Gee Creek Bridge is a stone’s throw from Layer Elementary where the trail breaks for about half a mile (as the crow flies).  This is where I ended the trip for this day.

More photos are available in my Rails to Trails gallery

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Biking Seminole Trail to Cady Way Trail

I didn’t exactly start at the trailhead… I was out and about and decided to visit this trail on a whim.

Lucas Nursery has a rooster keeping watch over the trail

I started out heading up to Oviedo on the Park, and just happened to hit it on the annual “Oviedo in the Park” festival.  There were tons of booths set up, and a lot of good food being sold.  Unfortunately I had lunch just before heading out, so I missed out on all the good eats.

Oviedo in the Park-1Oviedo in the Park-3

Nice truckAfter I got past the crowds, I headed up to downtown Oviedo where I was going to pick up the Cross Seminole Trail.  Along the way, I saw a pretty interesting car parked next to an auto repair store.  They almost always have a collector car of some sort parked there.

Bench by the trail-2I picked up the trail at the intersection of S. Lake Jessup Ave and Clark St. where I simply headed south.   The only part of this trail that I don’t like is where it crosses 426.  There is no crosswalk, and really no indication that the trail even continues on the other side of the road; if you don’t know that it’s there, it looks like the trail simply ends.

Abandonded HouseOne spot that I wanted to stop at along the way was an old abandoned house that had a historical marker in front of it.  It turns out that the house and the historical marker have very little to do with each other.  It’s just an empty building, while the marker describes the founding of Jamestown.

A little further along the trail crosses a bridge with a pavilion next to it.  There are some shaded picnic tables there, a water fountain, and a bike repair station.  The Cady Way trail starts on the other side of Howell Branch Rd. about 2 past this pavilion/bridge.

More photos are available in my Rails to Trails gallery

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Magnolia Park–Apopka, Florida

Magnolia Park is one of five campgrounds run by Orange County.  We stayed here for a couple of nights after Christmas and it is really a nice park with several peacocks walking about.

Several peacocks live in this park

Heron at duskThe main attraction for this park is Lake Apopka and the Lake Apopka Loop Trail.  Lake Apopka is a huge lake, but it is also very shallow so if the weather is calm the surface is like glass.  This makes it a great place to view the sunset.

Magnolia Park isn’t a big park, but it is pretty central to just about everything in Orlando so it’s a great place to stay for a couple nights or a couple weeks.  The staff was great, and even though we only stayed for a couple nights, we had a great time here.

Related Posts

Andy with bikes-1
Biking the Lake Apopka Loop Trail

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