FLORIDA TRIP – Hillsborough SP, Cycling the Withlacoochee State Trail – Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We had checked out the weather forecast for the week and knew that today was the last warm day for the rest of this week. That made our decision to do a long bike ride today easy. We had heard of The Withlacoochee Trail from our friends Sherry and David. Then a young fellow in the campsite next to us recommended it also, so we thought it must be a good bet.

We headed out after breakfast about 9am and traveled north of the campground about 25 miles to the Ridge Manor Trailhead. There are two closer trail accesses, but they are not in the best neighborhoods, so we decided to start our ride here on the edge of the Withlacoochee Wildlife Management Area. The entire trail is 46 miles long from Trilby in the south to Citrus Springs in the north. Floral City is the halfway point on the trail.

Our Starting Point

Click to Enlarge

Getting Ready To Roll

We figured we would ride at least 30 miles today. As it turned out we did a little over 35.  Here are a few pictures from the trail:
First Road Crossing

First Stop - It was still chilly!!

Recumbent Rider Passing

Beautiful Old Tree

We stopped at Floral City and went into The Shamrock, an Irish Pub, to get a cup of coffee. Yes, you read it right—coffee!! The temperature was still at 50 degrees and the sun had yet to shine…so much for the warmest day idea. We needed to be warmed up before heading back. Well, the luck of the Irish was with us. When we left the pub, the sun came out and it warmed up considerably!!
Irish Pub

Best Cup of Coffee!!

We had hoped to spot some deer and other wildlife along the trail. However, what we saw was Old MacDonald’s Farm – pigs, goats, horses, ponies, cattle and llamas.
Although we never did see Bambi, it was a very scenic ride and we would do it again in a minute.

Nancy was having a great time snapping pictures as we rode. I carried the backpack which held our lunch. At about the 20 mile mark, we stopped for lunch at one of the rest spots along the trail. This one was in the sun and it was warming up beautifully.
Lunch Spot

After lunch we passed the River Path and took a little off-trail detour to go down and see The Withlacoochee River. It was a short trek to the river. The river was very low, but it still was a pretty area.
Path to the River

The Withlachoochee River

By the time we finished our ride, the temperature had climb to 66 degrees—now that’s more like it!! We know we will be back to ride the rest of the trail in the future.

On our way back to Hillsborough SP, we picked up a few groceries. When we got back, I took the Van over to the dump station to empty the holding tanks. It’s the first time we’ve emptied the tanks since we left last Friday. With the possibility of sub-freezing temps the next couple of nights, I didn’t want to have to unplug and move the van in the cold. It is one of those nasty jobs you just have to do.

It was a soup and sandwich night for dinner. After that, it’s a “Put on the PJ’s and hunker down for the night!” Neither of us will need any rocking to sleep tonight!!


  1. What a fun day! That looks like my kind of bike trail. 35 miles? You two are an inspiration!

  2. Looks like a great place to ride. Glad the weather cooperated for you!

  3. Hey you two, We've been there, done that and love seeing the pictures of your ride.

    The outhouse is great, we did not see that on our section but we did stop for lunch at the Shamrock and we sat at the EXACT same table.
    Guess the gopher tortoises weren't out for you guys. That's too bad. And I'm sorry you are experiencing one of the coldest winters in Florida. BUT it has to be warmer than S.C. I would guess and I KNOW it's warmer than highs in the LOW THIRTIES here in Virginia.

    You put our 20 miles to shame with your 35. Keep up the good work.

  4. I will be staying at Rainbow Springs SP in April, and would love to walk the upper part of the trail with our dogs. may I ask where you found the mileage chart please? I found the info on the trail, but not the chart. Thanks for your help!

  5. I took a picture of the chart at the Ridge Manor Trailhead. I had never seen it before either. Enjoy the trail...we will be back!!

  6. Nancy and Bill: A fantastic blog with excellent info and photos. I am heading to Ridge Manor trailhead today to ride. I also recommend to everyone to visit the Wallace Brooks Park trailhead(ride to the historic downtown area)and Ft. Cooper State Park trailhead(head south to Floral City)in Inverness. Both are beautiful trail sections and in safe areas. All the best.