Top 10... West Orange Trail
Popular for all types of biking, West Orange Trail is a world-class rail trail through urban and suburban sections of Orange County. Winter Garden, FL is an prime example of how a well-maintained rail-trail can revitalize an "old Florida" downtown. Here, bike shops and restaurants now abound. The Winter Garden City Hall fronts the trail and features a bicycle-art sculpture. The western terminus at Killarney Station (bike sales, repairs, rentals, rest rooms, snacks, playground) connects to the South Lake Trail. The trail will comprise part of the 250-mile Florida Coast to Coast Trail. (Detailed map and photos below.)
THE BEST TRAIL SECTIONS TO RIDE... and additional comments by MUDFISH
I recommend the western-most 5 miles of the trail, from old Winter Garden to the trailhead at Killarney Station (bicycle rentals, repairs, snacks, restrooms).
The bike trail has completely revitalized old downtown Winter Garden, which now features at least 2 bike shops, several restaurants, and a small but worthwhile history museum.
You'll find more interesting features along this section of the trail - an old barn pays homage to Bobby Bowden (retired FSU football coach), tall oaks laden with Spanish moss, quaint "downtown" Oakland, Briley Farm (where you might see some exotic animals, such as Watusi cattle, zebra, and ostrich), the Oakland Nature Preserve (0.6 mile trail and boardwalk leading to a pier on the lake), and an old railroad bridge over Florida's Turnpike.
For some additional exercise, go west past Killarney Station and ride the first 1.5 miles of the South Lake Trail to the stop sign at the first major road crossing. This short portion (narrow at first, but it soon widens out) is shaded and contains some nice hills and turns, rare for Florida. After 1.5 miles, this trail crosses a road and soon becomes a completely open suburban ride popular with road bikes (but not what I seek).
Another nice section centers around the trailhead off Apopka-Vineland Road, behind the Buddhist Temple. Ride north along the road about .2 mi. Here, the trail crosses at the light. After crossing, you have one mile of mostly beautiful, relaxing tree canopy (pictured below). Then you emerge once again along busy Apopka-Vineland Rd. (From here to trail's end north of Apopka, it is mostly open and parallel to roads.) Turn and ride back through the canopy, past the Buddhist Temple and you have another mile of shade, then about .6 mi. along Claracona-Ocoee Rd, then away from the road, you weave around a golf course, tunnel under a highway, pass through suburban neighborhoods (former orange groove) and into Winter Garden.
BOBCAT'S PHOTO GALLERY along the West Orange Trail
NOTE: See more photos and details at www.bikeorlando.net
More information on the West Orange Trail (links open in new window):
Bike Florida - West Orange Trail, a Top Florida Bike Trail for Recreational Biking.
Our Top 10 FL Biking
Bikes and Blades
Spin City Cycles