The Florida Springs Bicycle Tour, in north central Florida is a 327 mile, 6 day bicycle trip over quiet rural back roads, leading to many beautiful destinations . . . blue water springs, palmetto jungles and the world famous Suwannee River. The route includes 10 parks and 1 national forest.
The route connecting these parks forms a great loop through the heart of north central Florida’s pine forest and springs region. The pristine waters of at least 10 different springs bubble from underground caverns at a 72 degree temperature year round. All are within z mile and a half of the route. Quiet rural farmland, mysterious cypress swamps, manicured horse farms, scrub oak habitat, roads canopied by great oak trees and small towns will highlight your trip.
The route also passes other parks in addition to the destination ones. These parks are either state or county maintained and include: Ichetucknee Springs State Park, Poe Springs, Hart Springs and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site. In addition, a lovely campground on the shores of Ocean Pond in the Osceola National Forest serves as a destination on the fifth day after visiting Olustee Battlefield.
If you wish to plan a slower paced trip (approximately 30 miles per day of bicycling on most days) camping between the destination parks is available at private campgrounds at Orange Springs, Kingsley Lake, Ichetucknee Springs (near north entrance) and Hart Springs (unless flooded by Suwannee River). Motel accommodations are available in Williston. Using these sites as additional overnight destinations reduces the mileage per day to between 20 to 40 miles and lengthens the trip to 11 days. It will allow you plenty of time to swim, snorkel and tube in the springs, hike the forest, ravine and sand hill nature trails, visit the interpretative centers and more fully enjoy each state park.
If you’re in the Florida Springs area, but don’t have seven days, it’s hard to beat the day trips at Gar Pond and Big Shoals.
Day 1. . .Paynes Prairie State Preserve to Gold Head Branch State Park, 63 miles
Day 2. . .Gold Head Branch State Park to Olustee Battlefield State Historic Site (Ocean Pond Campground), 67 miles
Day 3. . .Olustee Battlefield to Stephen Foster State Folk CultureCenter, 30 miles
Day 4. . .Stephen Foster Center to O’Leno State Park, 47 miles
Day 5. . .O’Leno State Park to Manatee Spring State Park, 58 miles
Day 6. . .Manatee Springs State Park to Paynes Prairie State Preserve, 63 miles
Many thanks to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for this tour description.