Take to the Trails
March 20th, 2019 by Pamela A. Keene

A section of the Good Neighbor Trail—part of the Coast to Coast Trail—travels through the Withlacoochee State Forest.
Photo by Michael Dolan

If you are not a serious hiker or cyclist who lives for long, challenging trails, you are in luck. In Florida, the highest point is a mere 345 feet above sea level. The state offers dozens of choices for fun trips to discover wildlife, springs, lakes and scenic views without having to breathe hard.

Florida’s Coast to Coast Trail—still being developed—will span 250 miles with a continuous paved multiuse trail from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, linking St. Petersburg to Titusville.

It features 18 segments, including the 10-mile Good Neighbor Trail, which connects downtown Brooksville to the Withlacoochee State Trail, bringing culture, history and outdoor recreation together in an urban greenway.

Another segment, South Lake Trail near Clermont, is particularly scenic, passing by several lakes. It connects with Hancock Trail, which attracts road cyclists because of its hilly terrain. A bonus is the nearby Sugarloaf Mountain, which is 312 feet above sea level.

The planned 52-mile East Central Regional Rail Trail in Volusia County will connect Deltona to Edgewater, with a 10-mile segment to Titusville. Three trail segments and two pedestrian bridges are already open to walkers, joggers, in-line skaters, bicyclists and people with disabilities.

Check out the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop multiuse trail, which also is not yet completed. The trail eventually will connect Titusville to St. Augustine and stretch west to Palatka, then back to Titusville in a 260-mile loop. It will be the longest multiuse loop trail in the Southeast, passing through resort towns, a national seashore, state parks and national wildlife refuges.

Florida is also a vital part of the East Coast Greenway. The country’s longest cycling and walking route connects Maine to Key West, with 3,000 miles encompassing 450 communities in 15 states. Thirty-three percent complete, another 24 segments opened last year, including four in Florida: Emerald Loop Segments 1 and 2 in Jacksonville; Sweetheart Trail Phase IV in Daytona Beach; and East Central Regional Rail Trail segments in Brevard and Volusia counties. Those four new trails in Florida make up 21.9 miles of the 44.4 miles added in 2018.

Cool Apps
Money can be a challenge when traveling to foreign countries. Calculating currency conversions in your head can be dangerous.Instantly convert whatever currency you are using into U.S. dollars at the latest exchange rate using XE Currency. The easy-to-use app is available in iPhone and Android versions.

If you fly frequently, Hopper can help predict when airfares will drop. Download it for free, then select your destination. A calendar reveals the best days to buy, and when and how much fares will likely increase.

Oldest Hotel in Florida
Insider.com recently listed the oldest hotels in each state. Fernandina Beach’s The Florida House Inn opened in 1857 and was first used as a boarding house. During the war, Union soldiers stayed there. After the Civil War, Fernandina was a hot spot for shipping, shrimping and tourism. Today, it’s a reminder of all that is Old Florida.

Florida native and travel enthusiast Pamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who specializes in travel, gardening, personality and feature writing. She is also a photographer and accomplished sailor. Her website is www.pamelakeene.com.