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.

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Biking the Lake Apopka Loop Trail

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Biking the Lake Apopka Loop Trail

Years ago I read the Xanth series by Piers Anthony; it’s a fantasy series set in a land that one quickly figures out to be Florida.  Among the land marks (and bad puns / word twists) is a great body of water called Lake Tsoda Popka.  That is the area for this day’s bike ride.

Andy with bikes-1
Andy with the bikes

We started our trip at Magnolia Park, on the east side of Lake Apopka; we couldn’t have asked for a better day for a ride.  On the first few miles of the trip, there were a lot of birds along the trail – especially Anhinga sunning themselves.

Snake Head Flying-3Snake Head Flying-1
Anhinga Flying

Historic Pump House-2At about the 3-mile mark, the bike trail passes a historic pump house – I’m not sure about the age, but looking in the windows, we could see that it still has three large (and fairly modern) diesel pumps that look like they are still maintained and used.  Also at the pump house is a covered picnic area – this was also our stop on the return trip for our picnic lunch.Big gator by trail

Of course no trip around a Florida lake (or river) is complete without at least one alligator sighting.  On this trip we spotted four of them on the side of the trail.  The biggest was easily more than twice as big around as me.  He was probably at least twelve feet long, and pretty much qualifies for “dinosaur” status in my book.  He stayed still while we took a couple of photos before moving on, which was nice.  Many times these giants prefer to jump back in the water when there are people around.

We turned around at about the 9 mile mark, about 5 miles before the trail ends at the Clay Island Trailhead.  We headed back to the pump house picnic area for lunch and to for a chance to give our rear ends a rest from the bicycle seats.  While there, we watched a Great Blue Heron defend it’s nest from and Anhinga who thought he could take up residence there.

1-Blue Heron returning home
Blue Heron coming home to find an unwelcome house guest.
2-Blue Heron threatens intruder
First the heron flew in with a threatening posture.
3-Blue Heron sparring
Then he landed and started sparring with the anhinga
4-Blue Heron winning
It didn’t take long for the anhinga to get the point that his presence wasn’t wanted

5-Intruder flies offAfter only a few moments, the anhinga flew off leaving the heron as the victor.

This is another nice trail and is a great afternoon ride in the winter.  There’s not a lot of shade on this trail, so morning or evening would probably be nice during the summer.  The trail is covered with hard packed clay/sand with no soft spots to bog down tires, but it is a little bumpy.  If you head out this way, make sure to bring a camera and be ready to stop for some great views.

The full photo album is on Shutterfly

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  Tina & Andy-1

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Salt Springs Recreation Area–Ocala National Forest

I think the thing that stood out most about this campsite (at first anyway) was the price.  At about $30 per night I really would have expected the campground to offer something more than a bath house and basic hook ups.  We still had a good time though.

Praying Mantis-1
This guy shared out campsite with us

Our campsite-2We’ve been wanting to visit Ocala National Forest for awhile now, and this time of year the weather is perfect.  All of the reserved sites were booked, but they have a lot of sites set aside for walk-up visitors.  The campsites with hookups are in an open area; while there’s not a lot of shade, it is open enough for a nice breeze.  Also, across the street is a little shopping area called “Salt Springs Square” – the restaurant at the south end serves a great hamburger and fries.

While we were here we took a drive around the area to see if there was any cell service at all.  With T-Mobile we had no reception at all, but I’m glad we made the trip just for some of the photo opportunities. 

Old Firetruck-1
Old Firetruck by the Road

Interesting house-2
Part House – Part Museum

Tina by VFW missileOne surprise find was a missile displayed outside of a local VFW.  We had to stop and spend some time looking at this unusual find.  We even crawled under it to confirm that it was a real missile and not just a mock up.

Inside missile
View from under missile

Of course we did a little hiking while we were there.  There are some really nice trails to visit, and I’m sure we’ll be back to Ocala but I don’t know if we’ll stay at this campground again.  It might be worthwhile to take a look at some of the others.

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Of course, no description of this area would be complete without a few photos of the spring!

Main entrance view Small Island-2 Underwater-2
Underwater-1 Underwater-10 Underwater-12