THE BIKE TRAILS OF MANATEE AND SARASOTA
Everyone agrees! Manatee and Sarasota counties are the top Florida spot for recreation and fun in the sunny outdoors. Beaches, boating, fishing, golf, and tennis are all hugely popular recreations. And if it’s bicycling that you enjoy, Sarasota and Manatee counties are the setting for some of the most beautiful, fascinating, and extensive bike trails anywhere in the country. Many of the Manatee and Sarasota trails are designed with the nature lover in mind, providing fabulous views of Florida’s majestic palms, pines, oaks, colorful flowers, graceful seabirds, and other native wildlife. Other trails were created to offer virtual tours of historic Florida landmarks. Downtown Sarasota, Venice, and Bradenton even offer several trails and plenty of bike lanes for exploring the nooks and crannies of the region’s more developed urban areas.
Sarasota County features hundreds of miles of bike trails. You can choose a laid-back ride on the Legacy Trail, which links points in Sarasota County and extends south into Charlotte County. The Legacy is probably the region’s most famous bike trail, running for 12 miles with 15 rest stops and a big dose of Florida history along the way. Manatee County’s bike trail network takes you through the county’s parks, preserves, towns, and cities. Some branches of the network are still in planning, but Manatee County’s network of trails will soon connect with networks in Hillsborough County to the north and Sarasota County to the south. Bicyclists in both Manatee and Sarasota are encouraged to learn “as you ride” about Florida history, wildlife, or marine biology, or simply to enjoy the mostly flat landscape and frequent gentle breezes.
In Sarasota County you can also find a paved, 7-mile bike trail at Myakka River State Park, one of the Florida’s oldest and most beautiful state parks. Oscar Scherer State Park features 15 miles of trails. At Venetian Waterway Park, the 8-foot-wide paved trails provide unique views of tortoises, jays, and bald eagles, and link Caspersen Beach to downtown Venice. Manatee County’s most popular trails are located at Duette Preserve, G.T. Bray Park, Rye Wilderness Park, Emerson Point Park, and Lake Manatee Reserve. In both counties, many of the parks featuring trails also offer bike rentals and provide campgrounds and picnic facilities.
An added benefit: a number of bicycling clubs and dozens of retailers and repair shops serve the large bicycling community in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Wherever you choose to ride, you’re sure to enjoy the delightful local scenery and meet new friends who share your bicycling passion.