OGT - Connections Newsletter - Spring 2013

Florida Greenways and Trails Connections

New Paddling Trails for Apalachee Bay

Paddlers on Apalachee Bay by Doug Alderson

Paddlers, get your sea kayaks ready!  North Florida’s Wakulla County is putting together the Apalachee Bay Maritime Heritage Paddling Trail System, a set of 10 saltwater paddling trails. Trail lengths range from three to eight miles through a variety of coastal habitats. Several of the trails wind through the 68,000-acre St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the Chaires Creek Trail traverses Bald Point State Park.

Wakulla County enlisted help from a team of experts to assist in the trails development. They received grant funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Zone Management Program, and the Office of Greenways and Trails  assisted by creating the trail maps. Trail guides and maps should be available online this summer.

The system includes Tide Creek, Piney Island Loop, Port Leon Creek, Mashes Sands to Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks River to the lighthouse and trails that weave through tidal creeks and inside passages paralleling the Gulf. Most require some saltwater paddling/open water experience or you may want to enlist the assistance of an experienced guide. 

Photo provided by Doug Alderson 


ECGA Inducts New Trail into Network

cyclist on PSAST

In a couple of short weeks, on May 9, the East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA) will designate the Florida Park Service’s developing19-mile Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail, into its network of trails. An important part of the Florida Greenways and Trails System, the PSAST is a critical component in the priority trail network, serving as a green infrastructure plan for the state.

The ECGA ceremonial event is slated to begin at 10 a.m., with planned celebration activities to include an unveiling of the new ECG signage and a guided tour offered by the park ranger along the opened 8.5-mile portion of the trail. Lunch will be provided by the Spuds, Elkton, Armstrong (SEA) Community Help Resource Center.

Parking for the PSAST designation will be available at St. John County’s, Armstrong Park, 4950 Harvey Ave., in Elkton.

For more information or to RSVP, please email Emily.L.Rodriguez@dep.state.fl.us or  call (386)329-3721.

Group of bike riders on trail

Peddle Your Way into National Bike Month

May is National Bike Month! This countrywide event sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists® aims to honor the two-wheeled, balancing apparatus by getting people enthused about biking. The events promote involvement in this fun, healthy, and environmentally-friendly activity.

Both children and adults are being encouraged to pump their legs and get busy biking during the month by participating in adventurous events such as Bike-to-School Day, May 8, and Bike-to-Work Week, May 13 to 17. Several other events are being planned as well. No matter what the reason to ride—exercise, recreation or financial—the message is to enjoy cycling year round, but especially during the merry month of May.

For a line-up of May activities happening on the Florida Park Service’s system of trails, visit the Things- to- Do Events page or check out the League of American Bicyclists® webpage for Bike Month details.



The country's largest celebration of trails, the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® is quickly approaching. Mark your calendars for Sat., Jun.1 and plan to take part in an enjoyable hiking, cycling, paddling, horse riding or walking adventure. Events will be happening locally, statewide and nationally, so pick a path and track down some fun at an event near you.

To get involved or to learn more about National Trails Day® visit the American Hiking Society's website.


Office of Greenways and Trails Connections Newsletter. For information, please contact Angie Bright at Angie.Bright@dep.state.fl.us

FDEP Office of Greenways & Trails | 3900 Commonwealth Blvd. MS 795 | Tallahassee | FL | 32399

Just Released...

2013-2017 Florida Greenways and Trails System (FGTS) Plan Cover

Do you dream of biking from coast to coast across Florida on a developed trail system? Or how about hiking the natural Florida National Scenic Trail, paddling Florida’s entire coast or down one of several long rivers with designated campsites 10 to 20 miles apart? These are just some of the trail visions outlined in DEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails 2013-2017 Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan.

The new FGTS Plan, which actively sought public input during six open houses held throughout the state, emphasizes the establishment of clear priorities for coordinating, directing and focusing resources. The Plan also lays out a new framework for systematically “closing gaps” and connecting priority corridors within the FGTS to establish a fully connected and integrated statewide trail network.

The original 1998 Florida Greenways and Trails Implementation Plan laid the groundwork for numerous programs, projects and initiatives that are a part of the current greenways and trails system. The principles behind the recently completed 2013-2017 FGTS Plan are to not only identify a priority trails network, but to identify the gaps within the system and work closely with our partners to help close these gaps.” says Samantha Browne, Chief, DEP Division of Recreation and Parks, Office of Greenways and Trails.

The FGTS plan complements the missions and plans of several other agencies. For example, multi-modal transportation is a goal shared with the Florida Department of Transportation. Utilizing non-motorized trails for recreation and transportation supports the Department of Health’s Florida State Health Improvements Plan goal to reduce and maintain a healthy weight, as well as promote physical health. In addition, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s promotion of ecological greenways for wildlife and the Department of Economic Opportunity’s goal to identify economic engines for Florida are also included in the FGTS plan. OGT worked closely with these agencies during the development of the FGTS plan and will continue to enhance these partnerships as the system develops.

To view or download the 2013-2017 Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan in its entirety in regular or large print, along with other chronicled data, maps and the original 1998 FGTS Plan, visit FloridaGreenwaysAndTrails.com.


Amelia Island Trail to hold Opening Celebration May 11

Amelia Island Trail Users walking on trail during a sunny day

Friends of the Amelia Island Trail (AIT) will host an Opening Celebration on Sat., May 11 at the northern trailhead inside Peters Point Beachfront Park to recognize and pay tribute to several public officials whose collaborative efforts with local citizens and area organizations, for more than a decade, played a vital role in making the newly constructed 6.2-mile trail a reality. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will include a ribbon-cutting at 1974 S. Fletcher Ave., in Fernandina Beach.

The scenic, tree-lined AIT, which does not officially open until later this month, has already seen heavy usage by guests. The trail that initially runs adjacent to highway A1A for about one mile from the northern trailhead, near the Ritz Carlton Hotel, begins a game of “peek-a-boo” with A1A as it weaves in and out of the tree line, passing through the Omni Amelia Island Plantation and meandering to the southern trailhead at Amelia Island State Park. The AIT continues onward to Nassau Sound and ultimately merges with the actively expanding Timucuan Trail.

Together this pair helps implement Florida’s section of the East Coast Greenway and also assists in bridging the gaps within the vital Florida Greenways and Trails System network.

Photo provided by Mike Pikula, Friends of the Amelia Island Trail



Cross Florida Greenway Park Manager, Mickey Thomason

The Office of Greenways and Trails would like to congratulate Florida Park Service Cross Florida Greenway Manager, Mickey Thomason for being awarded the 2013 American Trails Florida State Trail Advocate Award. The Trail Advocacy award is given to an individual that has demonstrated successful efforts to influence public policy relating to trail planning, trail protection, trail development, or maintenance.

Charles and Anne Thrash

In addition, we would also like to recognize Charles and Anne Thrash of Chattahoochee, FL for being awarded the esteemed American Trails State Trail Worker Award  for the State of Florida.

The Thrash’s, working as volunteers, spearheaded trail development and renovation efforts at Angus Gholson Park in Chattahoochee. They are currently hard at work in assisting with the planning of the Road to Torreya Trail which will connect the City with Torreya State Park to the south and trails in Georgia to the north.

The awards were presented at the American Trails National Symposium held April 16th at Fort McDowell, Arizona.