As far as adventures go, this one was at the top of my list. For years I have always wanted to hike across Florida on the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. Spanning across central Florida from west coast (Felburn Park) to east coast (Ocklawaha River), the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway is Florida’s best greenway.
While I’ve always wanted to go on a through-hike, this one was going to last too long and I have had to section hike it. This section hike is one of my favorites in the state because there are so many different recreational opportunities available. My hike was actually a bike.
Spanning 42 miles of single track, and 1 of 40 “epic” rides listed by the International Mountain Biking Association, The Cross Florida Greenway Santos Trail System is the premier spot for mountain biking in the state of Florida. Beginning at Ross Prairie on C.R. 484, I rode my mountain bike 42 miles to Santos Trailhead, located on highway 441.
The beginning of this wonderful ride takes you through the historic diggings of the barge canal. This offers some exciting opportunities to ride some hilly terrain in Florida. The barge canal would have cut through the heart of Florida coast to coast, but instead it has been turned into a green corridor, spanning over 110 miles of forest.
The next interesting section is the I-75 land bridge. The first ever land bridge created across an American Interstate, the I-75 land bridge is just like a natural extension of the forest. Created so animals and people have a place to cross the otherwise impossible interstate, the I-75 land bridge is irrigated and planted with native plants and trees. This specially designed bridge holds the weight of tons of earth, plants and irrigation, allowing you to pass in quiet solitude over an otherwise noisy mess of traffic.
After about twenty miles or so past the land bridge, you begin to notice other bike riders. So many in fact, I wondered what was going on. Several professional mountain bikers were doing a photo shoot, jumping 100 feet off cliffs and landing far below on small ramps leading away to safety.
I was in what is known as the free ride area or Vortex section of the Santos Trailhead. Many side trails jut off into hundreds of loop trails of varying difficulty from easy to double black diamond, offering a variety of challenging rides for any level of mountain biking skills you may or may not have.
After 42 miles of riding, I was beat but well satisfied in knowing my journey across the state was almost complete. As I rode home in my truck, I could only imagine what it must have been like crossing the state one hundred years ago. I know it wasn’t as much fun as I just had.