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The Jacksonville Baldwin Rail Trail is a completely paved trail. The nice thing about this trail is its style. The trail is a straight line, a “linear park” made from an old railroad corridor, so you get to choose how far you go. When you’re starting to feel tired, you can just turn around. Since the trail is smooth and paved, any bike can ride on it. There are tandem bikes, mountain bikes, beach cruisers and those with trailers attached for the kids. It’s great for kids getting comfortable on a bike, or to test yourself and see how far you can go. The trail runs for 15 miles through tall oaks. In some places, the trees almost form an archway, making this ride easy and shady. There are also eight miles of spur trails that run through public conservation lands for hiking and horse riding.
If you’re a step up on the riding scale, Tillie K Fowler Regional Park is for you. Tillie is close to the urban core, and the trails are short and very rideable, making it a good place if you’ve got a busy schedule and would like to get a morning ride in. After your morning ride, there’s a good seafood place called Trent’s that’s a little over half a mile away. Because Tillie is also in a water management area, some of the spurs are underwater on rainy days, which makes the trail way more fun. Tillie takes you through pines and wetlands, giving you a real glimpse of old Florida.
Hanna Park has the hardest trails. Your bike must have good tires, because the trail changes from sand to dirt and then to mud in an instant, and you have to watch out for exposed roots the whole way. Hanna Park’s trails are also directional, meaning that every bike is going the same way, so you can focus on riding the trail instead of worrying about who’s around the corner. There are over 13 miles of good trails, labeled with difficulty ranging from easy to very difficult. Hanna is a good Saturday ride because you can head to the beach when you’re done and cool off in the ocean.
The A1A Ocean Islands Trail is a beautiful ride through some of North Florida’s most pristine beaches and lush State Parks. Begin at the Amelia Island Bridge and continue on to Big and Little Talbot Islands State Park, take the 5-minute St. Johns River Ferry ride and continue on A1A through historic Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach and continue on Ponte Vedra and into St. Johns County. The 40-mile stretch is a challenging ride, but with designated bike lanes in certain portions, access to the Timucuan Trail and spectacular views, it is totally worth the ride.
Cycling is one of the many experiences that can be enjoyed at Little Talbot Island State Park. Stay on the paved two-and-a-half-mile Park Drive Timucuan Trail segment, or ride off road through the maritime forest on the Dune Ridge Trail, or simply enjoy a ride on the hard-packed sand of the beach. At the south end of the island, there is a bike trailhead for the paved multi-use Timucuan Trail with a shaded pavilion with benches, a water fountain, and free air to fill up your tires. Bicycles are available for rent at the park at the Ranger Station.
For the more daring cyclist, the Beach and Peach Urban Park on Jacksonville’s Southside is a mountain biker must-ride, and its mountain biking and BMX trails often play host to national competitive events.