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Latest update: August 2022

Withlacoochee State Trail... Florida

Top 10 Florida Bike Trail... E-Z Google Map, 90+ Photos

The Withlacoochee State Trail is a 46-mile paved rail-trail and linear Florida State Park. The trail goes through small towns, the Withlacoochee State Forest, and other natural areas. It offers a variety of recreational opportunities with parks, river, and lake views. Uses include all varieties of cycling, walking, running, in-line skating, horseback riding, and access to a few fishing spots. Food and drink is available in the small towns along the trail. For a taste of "Old Florida," visit Istachatta and Floral City. (Map link and photos below.)

Withlacochee State Trail

Map link...
Withlacoochee State Trail

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Location: Hernando, Citrus, Pasco Counties
End Points: Owensboro to Citrus Springs, connector to Dunnellon Trail
Mileage: 46 miles, 1-mile connector to Dunnellon Trail
Surface: Asphalt, 12'
Trailheads (south to north): Owensboro, Trilby, Ridge Manor Trailhead, Silver Lake Campground, Townsen Lake Regional Park, Istachatta, Floral City, Inverness, Wallace Brooks Park (Inverness), Hernando, South Citrus Springs, Gulf Junction (North Citrus Springs)
Nearby points of interest: Withlacoochee State Forest, Fort Cooper State Park, Croom Wildlife Management Area, Withlacoochee River

Bike Shops/Rentals:

Trailside Trikes (Floral City)
Trek Bicycle (Inverness)

Support and Advocacy:

Friends of the Withlacoochee State Trail

 Page Summary:

  1. Biking the Withlacoochee State Trail
  2. Owensboro to Ridge Manor
    - Owensboro Trailhead to Ridge Manor Trailhead
    - Ridge Manor Trailhead
  3. Ridge Manor to Floral City
    - Ridge Manor Trailhead to Croom Road
    - Croom Road past Nobleton to Istachatta
    - Istachatta to Floral City
  4. Floral City to Inverness
    - Floral City to Inverness Trailhead
    - Inverness City Parks & Depot District
    - Inverness Trailhead
  5. Inverness to Gulf Junction
    - Inverness to Hernando
    - Hernando to Citrus Springs
    - Citrus Springs to Gulf Junction Trailhead
  6. Connector to Dunnellon Trail
    - Gulf Junction Trailhead to CR 39 Trailhead
  7. A Brief History
  8. More Information and Resources


Biking the Withlacoochee State Trail... Comments and Photos

The entire 46 miles is paved, well marked with mile markers, and the surface is in good shape. Typical of rail-trails, there are not a lot of road crossings or driveways. For the best recreational biking, we recommend two trail sections of about 10 miles each. These connect at the Floral City Trailhead, near the center of the 46 mile trail. Although adjacent, these two sections are different in character. South of Floral City is mostly quiet, rural, and forested, taking you through a portion of the Withlacoochee State Forest. North of Floral City is more urban, featuring the scenic lakes and parks of Inverness, FL. For either section, you can park at the Floral City trailhead at the intersection of US 41 and SR 48. A bike shop is just across the street. For the northern 10 miles, also consider parking at the Inverness Trailhead near mm 30 N, 16 S (red caboose), 7.2 miles north of Floral City. From the northern terminus at Gulf Junction, a connector now runs one mile to the Dunnellon Trail, part of the Cross Florida Greenway.

Here we visit the trail from South to North

Owensboro to Ridge Manor (6 miles)

Owensboro Trailhead to Ridge Manor Trailhead... 6 miles

This trail section offers little shade, so plan accordingly. The southern terminus is at the community of Owensboro along US 301, about 5 miles north of Dade City. The trailhead has parking and a picnic table, but no other facilities. If you like quiet, rural bike rides, then the entire southern half of the Withlacoochee State Trail is for you. The only town along this section is tiny Trilby, about a mile north of the trailhead. Just before the Ridge Manor Trailhead, a trail bridge over SR 50 is a notable feature - bike the only "hill" on the trail.

Ridge Manor Trailhead

Ridge Manor Trailhead offers the only full facilities on this portion of the trail, with parking, picnic and restrooms. From here the trail becomes much more populated.

Ridge Manor to Floral City (17.5 miles)

Ridge Manor Trailhead to Croom Road... 5 miles

The ride to Croom Road takes you through the Croom Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest. About 3 miles north of the Ridge Manor Trailhead, the trail passes under I-75, near the turn-off to Silver Lake Campground, along the Withlacoochee River. It then passes the intersection with the Good Neighbor Trail (a link on the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail). At the intersection of Croom Road is an entrance to a series of mountain bike trails.

Croom Road past Nobleton to Istachatta... 5.5 miles

A rural, forested section, mixed sun and shade. The trail passes just west of the old timber town of Nobleton. Check out Lake Townsen Regional Park just north of the intersection of CR 439 and CR 476 (part of the "Lake Townsen Preserve" as shown on Google maps). The trail runs through the park and there is plenty of parking and full facilities. Access the trail across a grassy area behind the pavilion, or via a paved drive running from the parking area - it crosses the trail, then goes down to a boat ramp and fishing pier on the Withlacoochee River. If using this route to the trail, watch for vehicles sharing the drive. Riding north from the park, it's just over 1/2 mile to Istachatta.


Istachatta to Floral City... 7 miles

Istachatta is a small enclave with a post office, community center/library and a couple of churches. The former Istachatta General Store (1890) had fallen into disrepair and closed, but on our latest trip we saw renovations underway so are hopeful for its future! Past here, the forest gives way to farms and ranches, but remains mostly tree-lined and a pleasant ride. The corner of US 41 and SR 48 in Floral City is a cross-section of "Old Florida." The local garden club has made this a very attractive trailhead, with a quaint trailside gazebo and flower garden. A restroom is also available. Trailside Trikes is just across the street, specializing in the sales, service and rentals of recumbent bicycles and trikes. If you have ever wanted to try riding a recumbent, this is the bike shop and the Withlacoochee State Trail is the perfect place to do so.



Floral City to Inverness (7 miles)

Floral City to Inverness Trailhead... 7 miles

Between Floral City and Inverness, the trail passes an entrance to Fort Cooper State Park (pay station; parking, restrooms, picnicking, camping). In this section you ride closer to US 41. The trail then turns away to run along Old Florida City Road, but still parallel to US 41. Here there is enough space to allow for some nice greenery and tall shade trees between the trail and the road. This provides a shadier, more pleasant close-to-road experience than most other roadside trails. After crossing under SR 44, the trail passes several lakes and parks into Inverness.

Inverness City Parks & Depot District

Inverness has done a great job rehabilitating its parks on Henderson Lake, part of the scenic Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes.

  • Entering from the south is Wallace Brooks Park, which has parking, restrooms, playing fields, dock and kayak launch, picnic tables and benches. A boardwalk along the lake provides scenic views.
  • Continuing toward the Trailhead is Liberty Park, with parking, restrooms, playground, and waterfront gazebo. A 9-11 Memorial is also located here.

The "Depot District" includes the renovated 1892 Atlantic Coast Line station, now a music and events venue with cycling and tourist services. At the water tower are a stage and picnic area.

Inverness Trailhead

Crossing N. Apopka Ave., look for the red caboose and a friendly pair of turtles welcoming you to the Inverness Trailhead (near MM 30 N, 16 S). The trailhead has parking, restrooms, picnic area, and bike shop. In Inverness, bikers will find shopping, restaurants, and accommodations.


Inverness to Gulf Junction (15.5 miles)

Inverness to Hernando... 5 miles

Just north of the Inverness trailhead, you cross a canal joining two lakes. About 1 mile from the trailhead, you leave Inverness and pass under US 41. Here begins 1.5 miles of pleasant tree canopy before the trail leaves the shady woods and emerges next to US 41, just before Arlington Street. Bike another 1/2 mile to the Independence Highway crossing and you can gaze upon the only pink elephant on the trail. (See for yourself.) Continuing north, there is less space and greenery between the trail and road than is found south of Inverness. The Hernando Trailhead at CR 486 has parking, restrooms, and picnic tables.

Hernando to Citrus Springs... 6 miles

The trail continues to parallel US 41 with a varying buffer, passing through light industrial areas, suburban areas, and short patches of woods. Central Ridge District Park links to the trail and provides parking, restrooms, playing fields. The South Citrus Springs Trailhead at W. Citrus Springs Blvd. has parking and restrooms.

Citrus Springs to Gulf Junction Trailhead... 4.5 miles (Northern Terminus)

From here, the trail continues to parallel the highway with little or no shade before veering west through a Citrus Springs subdivision. There are a few more road crossings in this section, making us appreciate how relatively rare they are along the rest of the trail. With long straightaways, fewer recreational cyclists, and wide fields of view, road bikers seem to favor the last few miles. The Gulf Junction Trailhead has parking, restrooms and picnic tables.

A connector now runs one mile to the Dunnellon Trail, including an underpass at US 41.

Connector to Dunnellon Trail

Gulf Junction Trailhead to CR 39 Trailhead... 1 mile

Leaving the Gulf Junction Trailhead, the connector runs roadside along Delmane Drive. This is a quiet road with some easy hills. There are several road crossings, they're not busy but use normal care when crossing. At the end of Delmane Drive, the connector then runs along an easement to an underpass at US 41 - this is a big benefit at this busy road! The Dunnellon Trail starts past the underpass, then about 1/10 mile to the CR 39 Trailhead. The connector also closes a gap in the Heart of Florida Loop.

A Brief History

In 1884, Henry Plant completed a section of railroad that ran from Pemberton Ferry, on the banks of the Withlacoochee River to Inverness, FL. This was the final leg in Plant’s first "West Coast Route," connecting the Port of Tampa, FL to the Eastern seaboard. Pemberton Ferry was subsequently renamed Croom, which is now a Florida ghost town. Today, the "Croom Tract" is part of the Withlacoochee State Forest. Henry Plant's railroad holdings (the "Plant System") became the Atlantic Coast Line in 1902, the Seaboard Coast Line in 1967, and CSX Transportation in 1980. In 1989, CSX sold 46 miles of right-of-way between Gulf Junction (Citrus Springs) and Owensboro Junction to the State of Florida to establish the Withlacoochee State Trail. Reminders of the old railroad days include numerous cement mile markers (distance to Richmond, VA) and the Inverness Train Depot, built in 1892.

More Information and Resources

Additional Comments:

Recumbent bicycles are especially popular here. If you have never been on a recumbent and would like to test one out, bicycle shops in both Floral City and Inverness have recumbent bikes for rent. A volunteer support organization does much to keep the trail in tip-top condition - support them and ride in style with a colorful Withlacoochee Trail tee shirt .

Nearby Biking:

Van Fleet State Trail - a FL Top 10 Trail
Good Neighbor Trail - Connector in FL Coast to Coast Trail
Suncoast Trail - Connector in FL Coast to Coast Trail
Dunnellon Trail - Crosses Withlacoochee River
Heart of Florida Loop - Regional Trail system
West FL Region - More trails plus Regional Overview map

Nearby Paddling:

Withlacoochee River at www.PaddleFlorida.net

Related Resources:

Florida State Parks - Withlacoochee State Trail

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