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Latest update: March 2016

Top 10... Legacy Trail

The Legacy Trail runs from south Sarasota to Venice along an old Seaboard Air Line Railroad corridor. Well maintained and mostly straight, the bike trail passes through Oscar Scherer State Park, continuing to Venice, where it connects near the historic Venice Train Station to Venetian Waterway Park. With the completion of two bay bridges and the Hwy 41 overpass, the Legacy Trail has emerged as one of the most enjoyable bicycle rides in Florida. In the center section, one can ride for over 6 miles without crossing a single road. Popular with bikers, joggers, walkers, and rollerbladers, there's something for everyone - scenery, forest, waterways, parks, rivers and history, plus access to shops and restaurants. Wildlife can also be seen. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Van Fleet Trail

End Points: Palmer Ranch (south of SR 72) in Sarasota to Venice Avenue in Venice
Mileage: 11 miles, plus 10 miles at Venetian Waterway Park
Surface: Asphalt, 12 feet
Location: Sarasota County
Trailheads: Culverhouse Nature Park, McIntosh Road, Osprey Junction, Oscar Scherer State Park, Laurel Park, Nokomis Riverview Park, Nokomis Community Center, Patriots Park, Historic Venice Train Depot, Legacy Park. (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Old Venice Train Depot, former Ringling Winter Headquarters, Oscar Scherer State Park, Circus Museums at Ringling Museum (Sarasota)

BIKING ALONG THE LEGACY TRAIL... Comments and Photos

"Stations" with covered benches are located every mile or so, restrooms and water are at most trailheads. The parks have facilities, playgrounds and picnic, and several port-a-potties are located along the way. There are only four road crossings, and the bridge over US 41 eliminates the biggest hazard. Old railroad crossings and signs are quaint reminders of the trail's past, the concrete mile markers show the distance to Richmond, VA, on the original rail line. (Newer location markers are in yellow circles on the pavement.)

Legacy Trail... North to South

Northern Terminus to Oscar Scherer State Park

The northern end is at Palmer Ranch, but an initiative is underway to extend the trail to Sarasota. Very rural feel, even though portions go past subdivisions and in one place a noisy auto reclamation facility - the wide buffer masks the surroundings. There also are open fields and we saw cattle. Once the trail enters the park, very serene.

Palmer Ranch to McIntosh Trailhead

McIntosh Trailhead to Oscar Scherer Park


Oscar Scherer State Park

The 1,400 acre park has parking, restrooms, camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, playground and kayaking/canoeing on South Creek or Lake Osprey. There are about 15 miles of marked hiking and biking trails, mostly sandy and better for mountain bikes. The park is an important habitat for the endangered Florida Scrub Jay. Crossing South Creek near Oscar Scherer State Park is a trail bridge and an old trestle bridge the last remaining of the original 1911 trestles.

Oscar Scherer State Park

Legacy Trail at South Creek


Oscar Scherer to Venice Train Depot

Perhaps the most varied section - from forest, field and marsh, to scenic waterways, to proximity to homes and businesses. Two road crossings through this section, the bridge over US 41 is a huge benefit. Legacy Park (opened in Jan. 2016) behind the train station adds much-needed parking plus restrooms, picnic facilities, water and a kayak/canoe launch. From here, the trail connects to Venetian Waterway Park.

Oscar Scherer to Roberts Bay

Roberts Bay to Venice Train Depot


Historic Venice Train Depot

The Venice Seaboard Air Line Railway Station was built in 1927 with service ending in 1971. Restored in 2003, today it serves as a bus station and trailhead for the Legacy Trail and Venetian Waterway Park. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, tours are available. At Rollins Coakley Railroad Park are a restored caboose and a statue of the circus's popular Guenther Gebel-Williams, the "Greatest Wild Animal Trainer of All Time."

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