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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