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First report: Dec. 2012; latest update: August 2015

Florida Eco-biking...  Cross Florida Greenway

Merritt Island National Wildlife RefugeMerritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

The Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway extends 110 miles from the St. John's River to the Gulf of Mexico along the former Cross Florida Barge Canal - diggings of the canal can still be seen. Trailheads provide parking, some with restrooms and drinkable water. There are 244 miles of hiking and biking trails, equestrian trails, and a 36 mile segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Note: Riders under 16 must wear helmets, but we recommend them here anyway due to some rough conditions. (Detailed map and photos below.)


View Larger Map
End Points: St. John's River (south of Palatka) to Withlacoochee Bay on the Gulf of Mexico (south of Yankeetown)
Mileage: 110 miles, 244 miles of trails, 36 mile segment of the Florida Trail
Surface: Mixed (asphalt, packed dirt, sand)
Location: Citrus, Levy, Marion and Putnam Counties
Trailheads: Sharpes Ferry/Marshall Swamp, SE 64th Avenue, Baseline, Santos, Land Bridge, SW 49th Avenue, Ross Prairie, Pruitt, Inglis Island, Withlacoochee Bay (See detailed map, left)
Nearby Points of Interest: Ocala, Silver River and Silver Springs State Park, Ocklawaha River, Rainbow River and Rainbow Springs State Park, Withlacoochee River, Withlacoochee State Trail, Goethe State Forest, Crystal River

Recreational options include biking, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, camping, and fishing and several nearby state parks, state forests, and rivers have yet more recreational opportunities. Much of the biking on the Cross Florida Greenway is better suited to mountain biking, but there are sections where more casual riding is possible:

  • From the Santos Trailhead near Ocala extending 15 miles west is a lime rock road (the old barge canal construction road) which has some sandy and rocky sections, but is bikeable for the more casual rider. In this section, the Land Bridge over I-75 provides safe passage for bikers, hikers, and equestrians.
  • Paved sections are located between the Baseline and SE 64th Avenue Trailheads near Ocala (about 3.5 miles), and at the western end on the Dunnellon Trail (2.5 miles) and the Withlacoochee Bay Trail (6.2 miles).

In the eastern section, the Ocala Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) has done a great job in establishing mountain biking trails with good markings that identify the level of difficulty from "easy" to "most difficult." The Santos bike trails have been honored by the International Mountain Biking Association as a bronze-level Ride Center, one of only seven in the world.

The Cross Florida Barge Canal was started in 1964 as a commercial shipping channel across Florida. Construction was halted by presidential order in the 1970's and in 1990 the project was officially deauthorized by Congress and ownership transferred to the State of Florida as a public recreation and conservation area. The Greenway was renamed in honor of Marjorie Harris Carr who spearheaded opposition to the barge canal.

THE BEST TRAIL SECTIONS TO RIDE... and additional comments by MUDFISH

Florida Land Bridge - a spiritual must-do for all Florida cyclists (or at least for those who have driven I-75 between Ocala and Wildwood). Comfort bikes and hybrids are fine, but leave the road bikes behind.

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend parking at the 49th Avenue Trailhead (west of I-75, SR 484 exit). This places you near the center of the best riding sections of the old, limestone-base construction road. (Oddly, there are no signs leading to this trailhead, but it is marked on our Google Map above).

From the parking lot, a quarter mile connector leads north to the old construction road (or “multi-use trail”). The Florida Land Bridge is about 2.5 miles to the east. The road to the bridge is bumpy in spots, but very ride-able and well shaded. The Land Bridge is lined on both sides by 4.5 foot planters, fully irrigated and landscaped with native Florida vegetation. A viewing area is at the center. Remember, hikers and equestrians have the right-of-way.

West of the 49th Avenue Trailhead, the old road turns to sand as it passes under 49th Avenue. On the west side, the equestrian and mountain bike trails diverge from the old road and the limestone base quickly reappears. Riding west, the road is a little bumpy at first, but it soon smoothes out nicely. The next 3+ miles provide a surprisingly smooth and easy ride through a pleasant, forested section of the Greenway.

BOBCAT'S PHOTO GALLERY at Cross Florida Greenway
(tap or hover over photo for a larger view)

Trail Markers
Trails are well-marked (these seen in the section from the Land Bridge Trailhead to CR484)
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Florida National Scenic Trail - hikers only. Orange slashes on the trees also mark the trail. OMBA Trail Equestrian Trail Shared Trail (lime rock road)
SW 49th Avenue Trailhead East to Land Bridge Trailhead
The lime rock road here has some rocky and sandy spots, but is ride-able for the more casual biker. The road is shared, and there are dedicated biking, hiking and equestrians trails as well. The Land Bridge is shared by bikers, hikers and equestrians. The 49th Avenue Trailhead (2.5 miles west of the Land Bridge) has dirt parking, an equestrian parking area, picnic tables and a port-a-potty; the Land Bridge Trailhead (1.1 miles east of the Land Bridge) has paved parking and full facilities, picnic tables, plus a large
equestrian staging area.
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SW 49th Avenue Trailhead Connector from trailhead to Greenway On the lime rock road
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When reaching this intersection, continue straight to the Land Bridge Typical views along this section
of the Greenway
Equestrians Approaching
Land Bridge
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Land Bridge over I-75 At the Land Bridge Trailhead
49th Avenue Trailhead West to CR 484
It's sandy under the CR 484 underpass. The lime rock road west of the underpass is a little less rocky and sandy than the section east of the trailhead. This section is about 3.5 miles.
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CR 484 Underpass Typical views along this section of the Greenway
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Typical views along this section of the Greenway At CR 484, cross the road to the trails to
Ross Prairie
A hiking trail at CR 484 Gopher tortoise
Ross Prairie Trailhead
CR 200, east of Dunnellon
Mountain biking trails between CR 484 and CR 200 are under development; currently, the Florida Trail and equestrians trails are available. The trailhead has paved parking, restrooms, drinkable water, equestrian staging area, and a campground.
Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida GreenwayMarjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida GreenwayMarjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida GreenwayMarjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
Dunnellon Trail
The Dunnellon Trail runs 2.5 miles along the Rainbow River including a bridge across the Withlacoochee River. The ride along the Rainbow River is very scenic. The Withlacoochee River bridge seems to appear out of nowhere, with great river views from several observation decks. Parking is available at three trailheads: at CR39 just off US41 in Citrus Springs; at Blue Run Park off CR484 in Dunnellon, and on Bridges Road (down the dirt road, just past the playing fields) in Dunnellon. Eventually, will link to the Withlacoochee State Trail (currently, an on-road link) and planned state-wide trail network. View a detailed map of this trail Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, Dunnellon TrailMarjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, Dunnellon Trail
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Bridges Road
trailhead
Leaving Trailhead Crossing at San Jose Blvd. - the only crossroad Benches are located along the trail Trail along the Rainbow River
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Rainbow River Bridge over Withlacoochee River View from bridge Between bridge and CR39/US41 trailhead
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Approaching the CR39/US41 trailhead CR39/US41 trailhead Link to Blue Run Trailhead Blue Run Park trailhead
Withlacoochee Bay Trail
The Withlacoochee Bay Trail is the westernmost end of the Cross Florida Greenway. It runs 6.2 miles from the trail end at the Withlacoochee River east of the Felburn Park Trailhead (off US rte. 19 about 12 miles north of Crystal River) to Withlacoochee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Many pavilions along the trail offer shade, rest, and views of the canal, as well as marshes and wetlands. View a detailed map of this trail Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida GreenwayMarjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida GreenwayMarjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida GreenwayMarjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida GreenwayMarjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida GreenwayMarjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida GreenwayMarjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
Trail end at Withlacoochee Bay Parking area
at west end
Marsh overlook, Crystal River
nuclear power plant in background
View of the canal
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Overlook/picnic
by the canal
US 19/98 bridge
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Boat ramp
at the bridge
Between bridge and Felburn Park Trailhead Felburn Park Trailhead Trail extension east from Felburn Park Trailhead Eastern trail end at the Withlacoochee River near Lake Rousseau
See more photos of the Withlacoochee Bay Trail on our Facebook page.

More information on the Cross Florida Greenway (opens in a new window):

- Florida State Parks - Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
- Florida State Parks - Withlacoochee Bay Trail

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