When you walk, run, skate or bike the nearly 8-mile Cape Haze Pioneer Trail, you're tracing the line that once serviced Florida's early phosphate industry and also moved people, livestock and locally grown crops, such as watermelons, to waiting steamships in Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island. The long-running Charlotte Harbor & Northern Railroad operated until the late 1970s. Today there are plans to extend the trail south to the Gulf and connect it with the Boca Grande Bike Path
on Gasparilla Island, which shares the corridor. The resulting regional trail will span coastal Charlotte and Lee counties.
The fairly straight and flat rail-trail offers a relaxing ride and welcome relief from the area's growing traffic congestion. From its origins near Charlotte Beach, the trail has a rural feel, while multiple access points offer a break whenever you need one. Boasting ample parking, water and restrooms, the northern trailhead is named after longtime trail advocates Robert and Anne Mercer, credited with starting Charlotte County's thriving rail-trail movement.
As of January 1, 2013, the trail continues southward after crossing a short, dirt driveway used as a service area for the Coral Creek Golf Club. This newly paved section of the trail continues from the entrance to the golf club, parallel to CR 771, across the new bicycle-friendly Coral Creek bridge to end at the traffic light to the Boca Grande Causeway.
To reach theRobert and Anne Mercer Trailhead from Port Charlotte, take State Route 776 west to SR 771 south. The trailhead lies on the right about a block south of the intersection.
To reach the Rotonda Boulevard East trailhead, follow the above directions but continue south on SR 771 about 2 miles, then turn right on Rotonda. The trailhead is on the left.
To reach the R. David Johnson Trailhead, follow the directions to the Rotonda trailhead but continue south on SR 771 just more than 2 miles to Harness Road; turn right and continue to the trailhead.
Charlotte County Parks & Recreation
4500 Harbor Blvd.
Port Charlotte, FL 33952