Great, long, rural rail trail
We biked the section of the trail from Inverness to Ridge Manor. The trail is very well maintained. It is a rail trail, so it is well graded for a nice ride. From Inverness to Floral City, the trail parallels a road, although you generally are separated from the road by trees, and goes by some nice parks. Even though it is in town, there are not too many street crossings in this section. In Floral City the crossroads is busy, we walked our bikes across the road crossing. South of Floral City is very rural and goes through the state parks. Very few crossings and some lovely scenery. The only thing that may spoil your Zen is noise from the motorcycle area of the state park, but that is only a small section of the ride.
All along the trail there are benches, picnic tables, and gazebos. However only a few of these have water fountains - those are generally found only at the park trailheads. So bring water!
South of Floral City, you won't find places to buy food/drink just off the trail, so plan accordingly. We can recommend the Shamrock Inn pub at Floral city for a good lunch and they are very welcoming to trail users. While having lunch there we overheard some locals talking about promoting trail bike tourism, so that is a great sign that they want to welcome bikers. This pub has a path from the trail to their parking lot. BUT they do not have a bike rack!?! We locked our bikes together. They do have outside seating, so you could sit with your bike. We also tried Coach's Pub in Inverness, which is a couple of blocks off the trail. Both pubs had good food and beer.
For finding amenities and local businesses, I highly recommend buying the trail guide book from the Friends of the Withlacoochee Trail http://www.railstotrailsonline.com/club-merchandise.html It was $6 and was quickly mailed to me. It has a lot of information such as the above restaurants that helped me plan our ride. It shows trailheads, parking, restrooms, picnic tables, local stores and restaurants as well as some history and local information. I like to ride on trails, not roads so it was well worth it.
There were two bike shops on our section of the trail, one at Inverness, and one at Floral City.
As for lodging, Central Motel is on the trail at Inverness and has some good reviews. We chose to stay at Bushnell Bed and Breakfast and I'm sure glad we did! It is a couple of miles from the Lake Townsen Park trailhead (which we drove to, as there is no shoulder on the roads there). See my review on Tripadvisor.
Although we rode in February, this could be a good summer trail ride, as there is a lot of shade and mature trees canopied over much of the trail. In February, even on the weekend with nice weather, the trail wasn't crowded. Trail users were mostly bikes. I think a lot of it is too rural with spread-out trailheads for casual walkers. There is a horse trail that parallels the paved trail. Horses aren't allowed on the paved trail. It may be busier in the summer, we'll have to go back and see. Everyone we met during the trip was very nice, from locals to other trail riders. Enjoy a nice long ride on the Withlacoochee State Trail.
Wishing for very little along the Withlacoochee
This trail, being one of the best in my home-state, gets little attention from outsiders, but we Floridians love it... - We stayed, in early June 2013, in Inverness and rode north one day and south the next day. We didn't cover the entire trail, even in two days of riding.
One can / could ride to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, from the trail, in Inverness as well as some of the other towns through which the trail passes...
We've ridden other parts of the trail at other times, and we're likely to ride it many times more...
The maintenance the surface, the amenities, and the overall experience was excellent.
We hope others enjoy this trail as much as we did / do.
Clean, maintained, pleasant...
I rode all of the Withlacoochee in each direction over two days. On day one (a weekday) I rode from the Owensboro Trailhead (south of Trilby) to Floral City (exactly 23 miles) and back; on day two I rode from Floral City to the trail end south of Dunellon (exactly 23 miles) and back. There are bike shops that do repairs and have some repair parts right off the trail in downtown Floral City and at the Inverness Trailhead where the red caboose is located. I was on a Giant Defy 1 road bike with 700c x 25mm tires. Tracking a leisurely road bicycle pace, it was about 4.5 hours a day with stops along the way. I’ve never seen so many recumbent bicycles as on this trail…perhaps three to one compared to traditional bicycles…but I noted the shop in Floral City sells them. There were few places for drinking water on the lower half and then drinking fountains started to show up here and there. I carried a 2 liter hydration pack, plus an 0.7 liter bottle, which is quite a lot, but worth it, particularly on the southern half. The trail condition was very good the entire length of the trail; perhaps a few very small heaves here and there, but overall, really quite good. The trail was well shaded from its beginning near Trilby up to Inverness and then the shading disappeared for the remainder of the trail. You will definitely want to have your sunscreen on the whole trail length, but for sure on the trail north of Inverness. Overall, the Withlacoochee Trail gets top marks on just about every point. It has the Florida ambiance which is missing from many other trails such as the Suncoast Trail that runs along the highway and makes you feel fenced in under the barbed wire overhang. It is devoid of the homeless beggars and other weirdos that the Pinellas Trail is known for. Clean, maintained, pleasant…great ride.
I rode the Withlacoochee trail for over a hundred miles, going up and down. This was from January 31 to February 7, 2012. The trail is what brought me to the area, and I stayed near Brooksville and most of the time, in Inverness. What a contrast to the huge amount of traffic around Orlando and the crush of people in DisneyWorld! This trail was peaceful, beautiful, and quiet. I loved hearing only the birds singing! As a woman alone, I felt very safe on this trail. It is against the law here to be on the trail after dark and several times I saw the Crime Watch patrol vehicle go up and down the trail. I stopped my bicycle frequently to do many geocaches along the trail. Seeing my bike on the side of the road, many people going by asked if I was all right or needed any help. This was a great vacation for a northerner from cold country, and I would highly recommend this trail.
Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee Citizen's Service Organization
It was mentioned in one of the items that there was a trail guide available outlining the Withlacoochee State Trail. That is correct, our CSO compiled a book of the 46-mile trail, breaking each section of the trail down into small incriments and not only giving any history known of the area, but also lodging, eating establishments, etc. If anyone is interested in the guide, please contact us at Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee, P.O. Box 807, Inverness, FL 34451-0807 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite all to enjoy our wonderful trail.
One of Florida's Best
"This is just about riding with two friends, the perfect ride on a perfect day down the perfect trail. It’s what riding should be about, when you can share the joy it brings with close friends. Of course, it’s also a great way to meet some new people who may become friends. It’s always interesting each time you go out, because you never know what new adventure may be waiting.
Riding along from Hampton’s Edge Recumbent Shop, to the quaint, trailside Gazebo at Floral City, and then on to an early breakfast at Cockadoodles in Inverness just doesn’t get any better. Shade trees line the trail for the most part, and the heat of the day doesn’t catch up with you until almost noontime.
Peacefulness surrounds you leaving the irritation of “city sounds” far behind. No words need be spoken but it’s hard not to express the inner feelings of joy and relaxation. Birds abound, and the mixed chorus is always perfect pitch and perfect harmony.
These are the things memories are made of, forever engraved on the back roads of our mind. Time may treat us well, and not change the Forrest or the small towns that lie along the trail. It may all survive the onslaught of new residential developments spewing out the brainwashed notion of the American Dream, when in fact they destroy the real dream. And in the not too distant future we may take that ride again, and see if the “Hen still delivers the Goods” at Cockadoodles!
Read the complete article a www.recumbent-bikes-truth-for-you.com/withlacoochee-trail-2004.html"