Florida Greenways and Trails Winter Edition of Connections

Florida Greenways and Trails Connections

Terminus Markers Placed on Florida Circumnavigational Trail

CT Marker at Fort Clinch State Park


Why would you cut a used sea kayak in half and place the bow end at Big Lagoon State Park near Pensacola and the stern end at Fort Clinch State Park near Fernandina? To serve as a visual marker of the terminus points of the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail (CT), and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the trail's completion. 

Paddlers completing all or part of the trail can now pose beside a colorful marker, and the kayak halves immediately let you know it is a paddling trail. 

The kayak halves were secured onto a support post at each park and coupled with a reflective informational sign on each one. The bright orange kayak was donated by Florida Bay Outfitters and the Florida Paddling Trails Association used a Visit Florida grant to purchase the signs and supplies for installing the markers.


Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation News

Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation logo

By Brian Smith

The Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation continues to work with other trail partners to further the Florida Greenways and Trails System. This all started with the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail being built from Pinellas County to Titusville. This was the first regional trail system recognized and funded by the state through the efforts of our legislators, local governments, several organizations and the support of the trails community. That effort was facilitated by a newsletter the Foundation produced that kept everyone informed and was titled “The Coast to Coast Connector.”

Now, the effort has moved forward to be more statewide in scope with a system of regional trails throughout Florida coordinated by the Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) and prioritized by Florida Greenways and Trails Council. This state trail system is funded not only by the new Shared-Use Nonmotorized (SUN) Trail Program, but also by other local, state and federal sources. In recognition of this expanded focus, the Foundation is merging its newsletter into the Connections newsletter produced by OGT to better communicate with the state trails community. This article is the first installment in this new joint venture. In follow-up editions, the Foundation will contribute regular features on Foundation activities and other trail information. The Foundation looks forward to this partnership!

Southwest Florida Trails Summit Unites Communities

Bicycle sign in Venice, by Christine Small

Seven counties and dozens of communities are coming together to create a continuous multi-use paved trail more than 270 miles in length along Florida’s West Coast, stretching from St Petersburg in Pinellas County to Naples in Collier County. While an official name is still being developed, the trail is popularly known as the Florida Gulf Coast Trail.

A trail summit in January organized by the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA) was a huge success with close to 200 attendees, including Representative Joe Gruters, Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, Citrus County Commissioner Ronald Kitchen, Jr., other local elected officials, and representatives from health organizations, non-profits, citizen advocacy groups, private companies, transportation planners, government agencies and many others.

In March, a trail technical working group met in Sarasota to further refine the corridor by the June 30, 2017, deadline for the Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan update spearheaded by OGT.

"The highly successful summit and working group show how strong and influential a region can become when working together towards a common goal," said Christine Small, OGT's South Florida regional planner.

Presentations from the Summit are available for viewing.

Paddlesports Training Class May 9-12

paddlesports training at Lake Louisa by Doug Alderson


Some slots remain for the next Paddlesports training class May 9-12 at Lake Louisa State Park near Orlando. The training involves 16 hours of intense instruction with expert American Canoe Association (ACA) instructors who coach attendees through the rigorous ACA Coastal Day Trip Leader course. This course focuses on risk assessment and group management, an excellent fit for creating future generations of safe paddlers. A goal is to increase the number of trained volunteer trip leaders in Florida's state parks. Contact doug.alderson@dep.state.fl.us for more information.. 

Spring 2017

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Trail System

Cross Florida Greenway land bridge by John Moran


The kickoff for the 50th anniversary celebration of the National Trail System begins May 9 at the International Trails Symposium in Dayton, Ohio. Known as the Trails50 celebration, trail users are invited to share stories, photos, or favorite memories, and simply get out on a trail.

The focus will be on those trails covered under The National Trails System Act of 1968 and the National Historic Trails bill of 1978. These include National Scenic Trails, such as the 1,100-mile Florida National Scenic Trail, and National Recreation Trails, such as the recently designated Bartram Trail in Putnam County. Florida is home to 43 National Recreation Trails. These trails cover a broad range of non-motorized uses, from hiking to biking to equestrian.

You can join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or on the Trails50 website. Be sure to share your favorite experiences and images on Florida's many national trails. And be sure to peruse the winners of the 2016 National Recreation Trail photo contest. Two Florida trails, the Wacissa River and Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, were featured among the winners.


Legacy Trail Extension Gets Traction

Next Stop Sarasota graphic design by Freepik

Graphic design by Freepik

The Sarasota County Commission took a big step in extending the 10.6-mile Legacy Trail in Southwest Florida by committing $8.6 million to buy the right-of-way for a 7.5-mile trail extension. The trail currently serves about 175,000 annual users and this extension could greatly boost those participation figures. This funding is considered to be a critical first step since other private and public funding must be obtained to complete the trail. The total estimated cost for land acquisition and construction of the extension is estimated to be between $56 and $60 million. 

Land for Keystone Heights Trailhead Purchased

Palatka to Lake Butler Trail in Keystone Heights, by Doug Alderson


A half-acre parcel in downtown Keystone Heights along the Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail was recently purchased through the Office of Greenways and Trail acquisition program for $114,500. This parcel will be subleased to the city of Keystone Heights to develop and manage the property as a public trailhead with parking and restrooms. Currently, many trail users park at private businesses in downtown Keystone Heights in order to use the trail. The trailhead will also benefit users who want to ride the 6-mile paved trail from Keystone Heights to Mike Roess Goldhead Branch State Park.

"Keystone Heights is known for its lakes and in the past several years since we have gotten the rail-trail, we see more and more bikers and walkers using the trail," said Keystone Heights mayor Tony Brown. "The importance of the Keystone Heights Trailhead will boost the economy in our city and we will have a center point for bike events to be on the trail with its beautiful scenery."

The town recently held its first annual Mayor's Ball, sponsored by the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, and $3,000 was raised for the trailhead. The local Rotary Club is now applying for a matching grant.


Old Spanish Trail Bicycle and Walking Path?

Historic Old Spanish Trail Highway route courtesy of OST100


If you've ever driven U.S. 90 just east of Milton in the Florida Panhandle, you may have noticed an old brick road paralleling the highway to the north. This is a five-mile remnant of the 2,743-mile Old Spanish Trail (OST) Auto Highway, built in the 1920s from St. Augustine to San Diego, California. This old brick road, known as the Milton Trail, is now a walking and bicycling path. Part of the focus of the Old Spanish Trail Centennial Association (OST100) is to not only revitalize and beautify the original OST roadbed, but also to inspire states and counties to build more biking and walking trails along the corridor or to use part of the original roadbed for that purpose, such as the Milton Trail.   

As part of a decade long centennial celebration of the original highway's conception and completion, OST100 is hosting a centennial conference in Tallahassee May 18-20 that is open to the public. Activities will include lectures, a bike ride, historic walk and motorcade to Havana on the original route. The original route in Florida generally followed U.S. 90, but deviated in certain sections. In Jacksonville, the route veered south along U.S. 1 to St. Augustine. 

Various sections of the original Old Spanish Trail were built of brick, crushed oyster shells, concrete, asphalt and wooden planks. In 2029, OST100 plans to organize a celebratory caravan to follow as much of the original route as possible. "We're hoping by 2029 that tourists will be driving, walking and biking the trail," said OST100 Chairperson Charlotte Kahl.