Fall 2011 Newsletter Title Bar

GWT 2011 Masthead


Welcome to the Fall 2011 Edition of Connections!

In This Issue of Connections:
Celebrate Florida Greenways and Trails Month!
Greenways and Trails Join State Parks
Explore the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop
5th Annual Apalachicola RiverTrek
Cross Florida Greenway Mountain Bike Trails Go West
Progress on East Central Regional Rail-Trail
Visit Florida Features the State's Ultra Distance Trails
Tips on Trail Etiquette
FTA Hosts Annual Big "O" Hike
Public Meeting Notices
Greenways and Trails Month Event Preview



It's October--Time to Celebrate Florida's Greenways and Trails!

It's the perfect time of year to explore trails, greenways and blueways throughout the state.  


As the autumn sunshine begins to filter through the trees and a fresh breeze stirs here and there, Florida's trails and green spaces become all the more inviting. We welcome our partners and friends throughout the state to help celebrate Florida's many beautiful greenways and trails through festivities such as dedications, educational exhibits, trail rides, paddling excursions, trail blazing, birding, clean-up events and more.  

GWT Month poster 

The weather is just right to enjoy hiking, biking, running, skating, horseback riding and paddling--all great ways to appreciate the state's natural beauty! In this issue, we preview just a

few of the many events taking place throughout

the state.  


It's easier than ever this year to register your community's trail-related events for this month's statewide web calendar--join the celebration!


Office of Greenways and Trails Joins Division of Recreation and Parks
The nation's best state parks and trails have joined forces.
OGT logo
Park Service Logo
Now a part of the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Division of Recreation and Parks, DEP's nationally recognized Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) continues its mission to provide statewide leadership and coordination to establish, expand and promote Florida's Statewide System of Greenways and Trails. Just as Florida's award-winning state parks inspire residents and visitors with recreation opportunities and scenic beauty that helps to strengthen families, educate children, expand local economies and foster community pride, OGT works to enrich the state's growing nature-based tourism industry through a statewide network of trails for recreation, conservation, and alternative transportation.


In 2008, Florida was named the Best Trails State in the nation by American Trails. The award recognizes the contributions of volunteers, professionals, agencies and other leads who work together to create a national system of trails for all Americans. As the inaugural winner, Florida was recognized for its vision, initiative and management of statewide trails. In becoming a new member of the Florida Park Service family, OGT has experienced a warm welcome and looks forward to continuing to pursue its statewide mission.


A Ride Along the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop Kicks Off
Florida Greenways and Trails Month

St. Johns River to Sea Loop-Putnam Co
Along the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop---Putnam County 
Want to ride with Florida's master cycling and trails innovator? For eight days, beginning
Oct. 1 --the start of Florida Greenways and Trails Month -- Herb Hiller will ride the 260-mile route of the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop. The 1st day from DeLand to Crescent City, the 2nd to Palatka, 3rd to St. Augustine, 4th to Flagler Beach, 5th to New Smyrna Beach, 6th to Titusville/Mims, 7th to Enterprise, the 8th day will be a return back to DeLand. Riders must pay for meals and overnight accommodations.

The ride is unsupported and recommended for experienced participants who are comfortable in cycling along roadways as needed. You will become part of a story on the Loop, review Bike Florida cue sheets and maps and help update both the Loop and the Florida East Coast Greenway for Visit Florida's Trails website. Contact Herb Hiller.



Kayakers to Embark on 5th Annual Apalachicola RiverTrek

Apalachicola Paddling
Apalachicola River                          Photo by Doug Alderson
Paddling enthusiasts are gearing up for this year's five-day RiverTrek "paddle-a-thon," sponsored by the Apalachicola Riverkeeper. The 5th annual RiverTrek 2011 is designed to raise resources and awareness for protection of the river. Ten kayakers will begin on Oct. 12, just below the Jim Woodruff Dam in Chattahoochee, Florida, and paddle 107 miles to Apalachicola Bay.
"The Apalachicola Riverkeeper's goal is to grow the number of participants and sponsors and make this the signature fundraising event for protection of the Apalachicola River," said Earl Morrogh, founder and director of the RiverTrek event and a member of the kayaking team. He added, "What makes the Trek even more relevant this year than in years past is the Riverkeeper's quest to achieve state designation of the Apalachicola River as a paddling trail."
The Florida Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) has assisted the Riverkeeper in developing the maps and guide for "The Apalachicola River Blueway." The guide features access points, campsites, points of interest, side trips and places where fresh water can be obtained--a total of more than 50 points that paddlers can find along the river with a GPS unit and by following river mile-markers on trees. "The intent of the Apalachicola River Blueway is to also provide greater appreciation and sensitivity towards the Apalachicola River as a dynamic ecological resource and scenic wonder, and to promote eco-tourism in adjoining towns and counties," said Morrogh.

The relatively undeveloped Apalachicola River Basin plays a major supporting role in a billion-dollar offshore seafood industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, the river and its surrounding forests, prairies and coastal habitats are recognized by the Nature Conservancy as one of six 'biodiversity hotspots' in the United States.
"I often heard the Apalachicola River characterized as a great American treasure, but until I paddled its length and got to know it one paddle stroke at a time, I didn't fully understand why," Morrogh concluded. "It's a precious resource worth protecting."   
Learn more about RiverTrek 2011.


New Mountain Bike Trail for the Cross Florida Greenway
Ocala Mountain Bike Association volunteers make it happen!

CFG Blue Bike Trail
Members of the Ocala Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) are unmatched in their willingness to put both brains and brawn into the development of trails that fuel their passion for mountain biking. Thanks to their longstanding partnership with the Office of Greenways and Trails in DEP's Division of Recreation and Parks, the Santos mountain bike trail system of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway (CFG) has achieved international stature. Not content to rest on their laurels, OMBA volunteers have recently extended the trail system further west along the Greenway in building a new "Blue" (intermediate level) trail between CR 484 and SR 200.
OMBA vols
The picture of dedication: OMBA volunteers always come out in force to build the trails they enjoy!

This new trail will also provide access to the CFG's Ross Prairie Campground and Trailhead located on SR 200. The trail will be approximately three miles in length, featuring a varied, rolling terrain along with a number of bench cut trail sections, wooden bridges and plenty of "fun and fast" sections. Constructed in part with a $10,000 grant OMBA received from the Bikes Belong Coalition, the grant funds have enabled OMBA to purchase the tools, equipment and materials necessary to build the trail. It is anticipated that the trail will be completed in time for the 2011 OMBA "Ride of the Living Dead," a 50/63 mile epic, costumed, ride which benefits both OMBA and the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation.   



Volusia County Welcomes First Phase of Developing  

East Central Regional Rail-Trail


There is exciting news for the entire Central

ECRRT Construction-web
Construction is underway for the first segment in the development of Florida's longest, paved rail-trail.

Florida region as Volusia County prepares to   

celebrate the completion of Segment 1   

of the East Central Regional Rail-Trail (ECRRT).   


Acquired in 2007, under Florida Forever funding through DEP's Division of Recreation and Parks,

Office of Greenways and Trails, the purchase represents the longest (50 miles) rail-to-trail conversion in Florida and it will bring a myriad of recreational and economic benefits to Central Florida. Funded by the Florida Department of Transportation, this 5.7-mile section connects to the developing Spring-to-Spring Trail  and Volusia County's Lake Beresford Park.   


The ECRRT serves as a critical connection within the multi-county initiative,  St. Johns River-To-The-Sea Loop and East Central Florida's expanding trails network. Access to the ECRRT is provided via Green Spring Park. Stay tuned to Volusia County news for details related to the ribbon cutting for the ECRRT's Segment 1, which is tentatively targeted for December, 2011.  



Ultra Distance Trails Featured on Visit Florida Website


Utilizing more than nine million acres of public lands, Florida boasts some of the country's longest non-motorized trails, enabling visitors and residents to fully appreciate the Sunshine State's unique landscapes by foot, horseback, kayak and bike. 

Florida's three trails that exceed 500 miles--the East Coast Greenway, the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail and the Florida National Scenic Trail--are now being showcased more prominently on the Visit Florida Trails and Greenways Website. The site was launched last October in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) and features more than 100 trails.
East Coast Grnway by J. Moran
The East Coast Greenway is a component of the developing, 250-mile St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop Trail.

Florida's section of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway covers 585 miles from the Georgia border to Key West. It is geared towards touring bicyclists, but like all of the state's long distance trails, it can be enjoyed for a few hours, days or weeks.

Saltwater Paddling Trail
Florida Circumnavigational             Photo by Doug Alderson
Saltwater Paddling Trail 


The 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail stretches around Florida's entire coastline from Big Lagoon State Park near Pensacola to Key West to Fort Clinch State Park along the Georgia border. It highlights the vast array of Florida's coastal environments, from barrier islands to mangrove hammocks to the gin-clear waters of the Florida Keys.  


FL Trail
Florida National Scenic Trail           Photo by Diane Damiller
Cross Florida Greenway                  Florida Trail Association 

ers and hikers find solitude and adventure along the 1,400-mile Florida National Scenic Trail, and sections are open to horseback riders and mountain bikers. Stretching from the Gulf Islands National Seashore to the Big Cypress National Preserve, the trail links together vast tracts of public land, including Florida's three national forests.    

To learn about these ultra distance trails and many interesting places to explore along the way, check out Visit Florida's Trails and Greenways website.


Sharing the Trails We Celebrate     

Tips on trail etiquetteTrail User Yield Sign


In celebrating the bounty and beauty of Florida's trails and greenways this October, we find the perfect occasion for highlighting trail safety and courteous interaction between different types of trail users. Multi-use trails make it possible to have more trails than would otherwise be feasible. However, safe, enjoyable use of shared trails relies on some basic and very important rules of trail etiquette:


  • Bicyclists and inline skaters yield to other users; all trail users yield to equestrians.  
  • Yield to other trail users when entering and crossing the trail.   
  • Travel at a responsible speed! (Excessive speed can lead to tragic accidents.)
  • Stay to the right except when passing.  
  • Give a clear warning signal when passing.  
  • Watch out for traffic at road crossings and obey all traffic signals.  
  • Always look ahead and behind when passing.  
  • Keep pets on a maximum 6-foot leash and walk them on the edge of the trail.
  • Helmets are required by Florida law for cyclists and equestrians under the age of 16; all other cyclists are urged to wear them.

For more suggestions on shared trail use and specific insights on how to interact with equestrian trail users, see American Trails' guide to "Sharing Our Trails." A healthy awareness of, and respect for, those we meet along the way not only ensures a pleasant trail experience, but also creates a sense of goodwill and inclusiveness that inspires communities to develop more trails, to the benefit of all. Simply put, courtesy to our fellow trail users is a great way to "pay it forward!" 


Celebrate the Bounty of Florida's Trails with the Big "O" Hike 

Hike a little or hike a lot and make friends along the way


Now is the time to plan for the annual Big "O" Hike around the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail which is scheduled for November 19-27, 2011. Sponsored by the Florida Trail Association (FTA), this Thanksgiving week event features daily hikes to complete the 110-mile trail which includes a section of the Florida Trail. Popular hike options are the first day (ranging from 3.5 to 12 miles) or the last day (a variety of distances can be arranged). Hikers will gather for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the Clewiston Inn, including a talent show in which all hikers are welcome to participate. 


There is no charge for the hike, however, donations are accepted to help cover costs of first-day activities. Friends and family are welcome to participate in a day hike at any time. Campgrounds/motels and meals are at the hiker's expense and participants should not contact the campgrounds directly as they have already been pre-reserved for this event. Note that, for the comfort and safety of all, pets are not allowed. Be prepared to walk some parts of the hike off the Trail in order to avoid construction areas.

FTA provides a booklet for the 2011 Big "O" Hike for a minimum donation of $6 or a HIKE KIT for a minimum donation of $20 (which includes the 40-page booklet with comprehensive information about the hike, as well as a T-shirt, maps and accommodation information). To order a booklet or a HIKE KIT, email Paul Cummings of the FTA's Loxahatchee Chapter or call (561) 963-9906. Please indicate T-shirt size (M, L, XL) when ordering. T-shirts may be purchased separately for $15 each.


Public Meetings Scheduled for October

The Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Recreation and Parks,
Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) has scheduled two public meetings during the month of October, to which all interested parties are invited.

General James A. Van Fleet State Trail
Land Management Plan Update
Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011
10 a.m.-12 p.m., Public Meeting
1:30 p.m.-Advisory Group Meeting
(Both meetings are open to the public.)

City Council Chambers
Polk City Government Center
123 Broadway Blvd SE
Polk City, FL 33868

Rodman Reservoir Temporary Drawdown
Information on Drawdown Schedule and Ecological Benefits 

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011
5:30-7 p.m.
Ravine Gardens State Park
1600 Twigg Street
Palatka, Florida 32177

For more information on these public meetings, see FloridaGreenwaysAndTrails.com


Florida Greenways and Trails Month Events Highlights
Previewing just a few of the many festivities planned throughout the state

October 1
Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day
The Ocala Mountain Bike Association's (OMBA) Bike Patrol together with Greenway Cycles will host young riders, ages 6 to 16+, in a youth mountain biking event on the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. The ride is part of a nationwide celebration known as Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, supported by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. For details, visit OMBA.org. OMBA welcomes all riders and their families who want to have a fun day on their bikes and help bring up the next generation of mountain bikers!

October 2
Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee 17th Annual Bike Ride
The Withlacoochee State Trail (WST), Florida's longest rail-trail, is a paved, 46-mile long converted railroad track. Riders can travel as little as one mile to as much as 100 miles along this scenic trail, which is mostly level with light rolling hills that are home to a variety of wildlife. Registration is $25 per person and proceeds are used to help provide enhancements and improvements to the WST. Five stops along the way will offer water, sports drinks and food. Continental breakfast and light lunch will also be available. Visit railstotrailsonline.com, click on link "Bike Ride in October" to register. Email richg37s@yahoo.com for more information.

October 6
Reopening Celebration for Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Recreation and Parks will celebrate Florida Greenways and Trails Month with a ribbon cutting to officially reopen the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail in Leon and Wakulla counties. The event marks a return to full service for the first, paved rail-trail in the state's greenways and trails system following a resurfacing and widening project for the twenty-year-old trail. For details, see FloridaGreenwaysAndTrails.com

October 13-20
Paddle Florida's Suwannee River Wilderness Trail Fall Paddle
Near Live Oak
Returning paddlers and first-timers of all ages will be part of the Fourth Annual Fall Paddle on the Suwannee River. Paddlers may choose the full week-long 123-mile adventure or test the waters with the Paddle Florida Lite option for only a few days. Either option travels down the Suwannee, home to some of Florida's most treasured springs, state parks and campgrounds. The fall trip includes riverside camping, plenty of hiking trails, bird and turtle watching spots and many peaceful hideaways for relaxing. Every evening paddlers gather for open-air dining, entertainment from Florida musicians or educational presentations that explore the water system and the abundant nature that makes this area unique. To register, visit PaddleFlorida.

October 15
Key Largo "Pedal"
Florida Keys
Celebrate Greenways and Trails Month with a bike ride along the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail! The 13-mile roundtrip ride will begin and end at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and will include stops along the way to learn about Key Largo's history. At the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, pedalers can explore the recently reopened, two-mile, unpaved trail through one of the largest tracts of tropical hardwood hammock at the botanical preserve. For more information, call Monica Woll, (305) 853-3571 or email Monica Woll

October 22
Scout Key Paddle & Clean-up
Florida Keys
Enjoy a paddling trip and lend a helping hand for the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT). Celebrate Florida Greenways and Trails Month with a three-mile paddle out from Spanish Harbor boat ramp to circumnavigate the newly re-named "Scout Key." Weather permitting, the excursion may continue on to Little Bahia Honda Key for a great view of the historic Bahia Honda trestle bridge. Following the paddle, the group will help clean up the FKOHT launch site and fishing bridge area at Spanish Harbor. For details, call Monica Woll, (305) 853-3571 or email Monica Woll.  

October 22
Fenner McConnell/Matt Wantz Century Bike Ride
Enjoy a day of great cycling through the quiet roads and beautiful countryside of the
Blackwater State Forest. The ride starts on the Blackwater Heritage State Trail (BHST) at
8 a.m. Distances are 18, 40, 62 and 100 miles. Well-stocked rest stops, fantastic volunteers and beautiful scenery all combine for a memorable event! Registration includes pre and post-ride food, event T-shirt, limited sag support, well marked/signed roads and maps. Hosted by Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Northwest Florida and the West Florida Wheelmen, a portion of the event's proceeds will go to the BHST's Citizen Support Organization. To register, go to Active.com. For more information, call (850) 433-5437 or email: marketing@bbbsnwfl.org.

October 29
OMBA's 2011 "Ride of the Living Dead"
The "Ride of the Living Dead" is a 50/65 mile mountain bike event hosted by the Ocala Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) on the amazing Santos trails of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. This year's event will feature the brand new "blue" trails on the west end of the Greenway. Costumes are encouraged and there will be prizes! Do not delay...ride is capped at 350 entrants. For more information, visit OMBA.org. Registration is available at Active.com

November 3-6
Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival
Ft. Myers
Festivities include competitive canoe/kayak races, a kayak fishing tournament, paddling clinics and demonstrations, seminars, family activities, archaeological and environmental events, guided tours, and more celebrations along The Great Calusa Blueway, featuring beaches and back bays of Fort Myers and Sanibel. Visit calusabluewaypaddlingfestival.com for registration and fee information.

November 5
Greenways Days
Designed to foster community awareness of the J.R. Alford Greenway and its year 'round recreational opportunities for hiking, cycling, horseback riding, star gazing and more, the event will feature demonstrations, children's activities and hayride tours (weather permitting). For more information, visit leoncountyfl.gov.   

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FDEP Office of Greenways & Trails | 3900 Commonwealth Blvd. MS 795 | Tallahassee | FL | 32399