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First report: Dec. 2015

Florida Keys - Biking on the Overseas Heritage Trail from Key Largo to Key West

Bike Pigeon Key Bridge, Florida KeysBike Pigeon Key Bridge, Florida Keys

The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, spanning the Florida Keys from Key Largo to Key West following Henry Flagler's railroad route, continues to grow and we were pleased to see that construction has been progressing. Almost the entire 106 mile length now has bike lanes along the shoulders, with separate bike trails along much of the way (including bridges). Existing trails and paths, and even sections of Old US1, have been incorporated into the trail.

The trail is almost exclusively alongside the roadway with a few segments where it goes off, traffic can be heavy with many trucks and cyclists should be alert. Since it spans the entire length of the Keys the trail is diverse, passing through commercial and residential areas, over bridges and past parks, wetlands, and pine, palm, silver buttonwood and mangrove environments - but always near the road. In residential and commercial areas there can be many driveways, watch for cars crossing. We don't encourage biking the narrow A1A bridges due to heavy traffic, inadequate bike lanes, and strong winds - but many bridges now have separate biking/walking spans (also, fishing) with more being built.

Mile markers (MM) are a popular and convenient way to locate Keys destinations. There also are opportunities to go off the beaten path and explore side roads or ride over bridges to keys and beaches off the main road and enjoy biking without the traffic. Visit ten state parks. If biking from Miami, we recommend taking US1 with its wide shoulders and not narrow Card Sound Road, but watch out for debris on the shoulders.


View Larger Map
End Points: Key Largo to Key West
Mileage: 76 miles, ultimately will total 106 miles and include 36 bridges.
Surface: Asphalt
Location: Monroe County (see map, left)
Support and Advocacy: Friends of Old Seven, Inc. (maintain and restore the Old Seven Mile Bridge)
More Information
(opens in a new window):
- Florida State Parks - Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
- See also: Paddling in the Florida Keys

We divide biking in the Keys into Upper, Middle, Lower and Key West

Upper Keys

Bike Florida KeysBike Florida Keys

The Upper Keys start in Key Largo at MM 107.2, extend through Islamorada and end in Lower Matecumbe Key at MM 75. The island of Key Largo includes North Key Largo, Key Largo, and Tavernier. Popular for diving and snorkeling, Key Largo is known as the "Dive Capital of the World."

Islamorada's "Village of Islands" is made up of Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key. Islamorada is known as the "Sportfishing Capital of the World."

Points of Interest: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Key Largo, MM 102),  Indian Key State Historic Site (Islamorada, MM 77.5), Hurricane Monument (Islamorada, MM 81.6)
More Information (opens in a new window):
- Bike Rentals: All Keys Cycles (Key Largo, MM 103.4), Backcountry Cowboy Outfitters (Islamorada, MM 82.2)

Biking in the Upper Keys
The trail runs mostly along the road and consists of bike lanes on the shoulders and in most sections a parallel bike trail. In Key Largo it goes through commercial areas with many driveways so watch for traffic. A pleasant section is at Tea Table Key where it is separated by a wide divider with trees. At Lower Matecumbe Key, a long stretch runs on old US1, residential driveways cross here but other traffic is prohibited. The only bridge we noted with a dedicated bike span is at Channel #2 (MM 73), others have bike lanes on the bridge - some wider, some narrower.
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Trail starts at the US1 turnoff from the mainland Trail at Key Largo - bike lane and trail Islamorada -  along the road at Upper Matecumbe Key (bike lane and bike trail) Bike lane over Indian Key Channel -  narrow
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Bike lane over Tea Table Channel - wide Trail at Tea Table Key - includes nice sections off the road Section along Old US1 - Lower Matecumbe Key Trail construction at Lower Matecumbe Key Separate bike (and fishing) span over Channel #2

Middle Keys

Bike Florida KeysBike Florida Keys

The Middle Keys Begin with Craig Key MM 71.8 and travel though Key Vaca (City of Marathon), Boot Key, Fat Deer Key, Long Point Key, Crawl Key and Grassy Key. The Middle Keys end at the south end of the 7-Mile Bridge at MM 47.

Points of Interest: EAA Aviation Museum (Marathon), The Turtle Hospital (Marathon, MM 48.5), Dolphin Research Center (Grassy Key, MM 59)
More Information (opens in a new window):
- Bike Rentals: Bike Marathon Bike Rental (Marathon), Wheels-2-Go (Marathon)

Biking in the Middle Keys
As along most of its length, the trail here consists of a bike lane along the shoulder with a parallel bike trail (though at Marathon there is no bike lane but a bike trail alongside the road). At Tom's Harbor Channel, Tom's Harbor Cut, and Long Key Channel (2 miles!), separate biking/fishing spans are a great asset. The best section to ride is at Grassy Key MM 55-58 where the trail is off the road with mangrove forest on both sides providing both shade and protection from the wind. From Marathon, there also are bike paths to Sombrero Beach and Coco Plum Beach.
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Trail at Channel 5 Long Key bridge trail span, north end Long Key bridge
trail span
Long Key bridge trail span, south end Trail at Long Key State Park
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Trail at Tom's
Harbor Channel
Grassy Key Trail MM 55-58 End of Grassy Key Trail, from here it goes to a bike lane
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Trail between
MM 54-55
At MM 54 boat ramp In Marathon Seven Mile Bridge - the bike lane is
narrow, not recommended if alternate
transportation available

Old Seven-Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key
The historic Pigeon Key bridge span (MM 47, a 2-mile portion of the old Seven Mile Bridge, with no cars) is a fun ride with scenic views. The bridge originally was part of Flagler's railroad and Pigeon Key was a construction camp during construction, today it's a museum and can be accessed by boat from the visitor center.
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Parking area On the bridge New bridge to the left End of bridge at
Pigeon Key
Pigeon Key

Lower Keys

Bike Florida, Key West BikingBike Florida, Key West Biking

The Lower Keys begin at the south end of the 7-Mile Bridge at MM 47 and end at MM 0 in Key West. The Lower Keys are comprised of Little Duck Key, Missouri Key, Ohio Key, Bahia Honda Key, Spanish Harbor Keys, West Summerland Key (Scout Key), No Name Key, Big Pine Key, Little Torch Key, Middle Torch Key, Big Torch Key, Ramrod Key, Summerland Key, Knockemdown Key, Cudjoe Key, Sugarloaf Key, Park Key, Lower Sugarloaf Key, Saddlebunch Keys, Shark Key, Geiger Key, Big Coppitt Key, East Rockland Key, Rockland Key, Boca Chica Key, Key Haven, Stock Island, Key West, Sigsbee Park, and Fleming Key.

Points of Interest: Bahia Honda State Park (Bahia Honda Key, MM37), Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge (Big Pine Key)
More Information (opens in a new window):
- Bike Rentals: Big Pine Bicycle Center (Big Pine Key)

Biking in the Lower Keys
The trail along the roadway is expanding rapidly, many bridges have separate spans, and there are sections (Cudjoe Key, Summerland Key) where the trail utilizes Old US1 as off-the-road options. The Saddlebunch Keys have bike lanes, bike trail and five Flagler bridges with bike trail spans. From MM 16 to Key West, the trail is complete and continuous including bridges.
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Crossing bridge onto Bahia Honda Trail at Bahia Honda At Scout Key we found a pleasant diversion - a loop running to a fishing dock, under the highway to a view of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge, and then around to the highway where we crossed back to the parking area
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Big Pine Key We went off-trail to No-Name Key Key deer at
Big Pine Key
Summerland Key, off-road along Old US1
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Cudjoe Key also has a nice off-road segment along Old US1 The trail at the Saddlebunch Keys
is complete including bridges
Not sure which bridge this is, but another example of biking on a bike lane

Biking at Key West

Bike Florida, Key West BikingBike Florida, Key West Biking

The Overseas Highway ends at MM 0 in Key West. The Overseas Heritage Trail now continues into Key West and circles most of the island along US1 and A1A. The narrow streets and tourist traffic make bicycling the best way to navigate the town - visit Old Town (Mallory Square, Duval Street, etc.), the Southernmost Point and more for activities including shopping, dining, fishing, and snorkeling. Some enjoy the week-long celebration of Conch Republic Independence Day (April 23) each year.


View Larger Map
Points of Interest: Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park, Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Harry Truman Little White House, Old Town, Historic Seaport District, Key West National Marine Sanctuary
More Information (opens in a new window):
- Bike Rentals: Eaton Bikes, Island Bicycles
- Monroe County - Key West Information
Biking at Key West
Entering Key West on the Overseas Heritage Trail from the north, the trail continues right or left on Roosevelt Blvd. To the right (US1), it goes past the seaport area to downtown, ending at the Visitors Center at Eisenhower Drive. To the left (A1A) it links to Atlantic Avenue and the beaches (Smather and Higgs) and CB Harvey Rest Beach Park. The beach side is more pleasant with less traffic. While the central historic district has no formal bike trail, almost everywhere is bikeable.
Entering Key West - Trail on the seaport side (US1)
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Entering Key West from the north Along US 1 in Key West - the wide
sidewalk on the right is the bike trail
Marina End of trail at
Visitor Center
Central historic district
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Biking in historic central district at Key West Mallory Square Sloppy Joe's
Trail on the beach side (A1A)
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At Higgs Beach Along Smather Beach Bike racks at each beach access Smather Beach Along A1A turning back toward US1

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