46 miles (Asphalt)
Rating: 9 (out of 10)
40 Road/Driveway Crossings* (1-way)
64 People Encountered (Both Ways)
Pros: There are many different trailheads to start the ride on the Withlacoochee Trail with nearby lodging. I chose to stay at a really nice Day's Inn located a mile from the Ridge Manor Trailhead. The number of covered picnic tables and benches along the trail was remarkable. Safe parking was available at many trailheads each having restrooms, water, and covered picnic tables. There were a couple of bicycle shops conveniently located on the trail. There are camping options at nearby parks. The scenery of the trail varied widely so the ride never got boring. There were no car barrier posts in the middle of the trail to dodge at intersections. The number of driveway/road crossings was very low for the distance of the trail and people traffic was also very low. The hills on the trail were all rolling railroad grade type hills meaning easy to ride except for an elevated bridge over US 98. What few busy intersections there were had signal aids you could press to get you safely across. The trail miles were marked on the asphalt. The right-of-way of the trail was well mowed off the trail for 10-15 feet. Trailheads had maps. The trail was well maintained and I saw maintenance workers during the ride which made me feel safe. Felt very safe on this trail. The 12 foot wide mostly straight asphalt trail was very smooth and had no root problems. It was nice to see wildlife like deer and wild turkeys but everyone's experience is sure to be different. No speed limit signs. I saw no litter along the trail. Rental bicycles were available.
Cons: Not much bad to say about the Withlacoochee Trail. There was a little bit of cracking of the asphalt but it bothered me none. For the most part this was a very quiet trail with the exception of when it followed a busy road like US 41 for a little while. There are confusing signs along the Croom Wildlife Management Area that say, "Hunting Is Prohibited" and then on the same sign it tells you to wear fluorescent orange for your own safety. Ignorant hunters left holes in a garbage can. You might want to wear orange. There were some mean ass mosquitoes along the trail. There were some trail markers suppose to be identifying types of trees that were blank. There were a couple of busy intersections that depending on time of day, may make you wait to cross.
Viewpoint: In a nutshell, yes, I would ride this trail again because the variety of scenery was wonderful. This was one bike ride I never wanted to see the end of. It goes through a variety of habitats from forested wildlife management areas to deep swamps, along the Withlacoochee River and through the heart of small bustling communities. There are lakes to see and small towns to explore like Ridge Manor, Nobleton, Istachatta, Floral City, Inverness, Hernando, Holder, Citrus Springs and Dunnellon most offering places to stop, fuel up and quench your thirst. For those with Mountain Bikes, there are off-road trails next to the Withlacoochee Trail. 55 miles of off-road bike trails at the Croom Trailhead alone, more than length of this long rails-to-trails. There are probably even more off-rode bike trail miles in the 50,000 acre Withlacoochee State Forest Citrus Wildlife Management Area also located next to the Withlacoochee Trail. I unfortunately didn't know about these off-road trails and did not get a chance to ride them before leaving town. All the more reason to go back to this area and spend an entire week bike riding. The only reason I don't rate this a 10 out of 10 is because of the posted and dangerous threat of being shot by hunters. I did hear gunshots. There should be a minimum 1 mile buffer between recreational bicycle trails and allowable hunting land.
*Note: I did not have time to ride the lower six miles of the Withlacoochee Trail and ended up riding only the top 40 miles starting from Ridge Manor Trailhead.
The downloadable GPS track of the Withlacoochee Trail can be found here:
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