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The 106.5-mile Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) will stretch the length of the Florida Keys, from Key Largo to Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States. The trail is also part of a larger effort called the East Coast Greenway, which will link multi-use trails from Florida all the way to Maine.
Currently, more than 75 miles of the FKOHT have been paved and completed. For the rest, users will have to share the road with vehicles. The trail runs parallel to US Highway 1. Use extreme caution as some areas have narrow shoulders, causing potentially dangerous traffic encounters. The trail is also quite exposed, so bring lots of sunscreen.
Tracing the course of Henry Flagler's old railroad line, FKOHT includes 23 of the rail bridges, the longest of which is 7 miles. Some of these have been converted back to their original configuration, but with added safety rails and an asphalt surface. To accommodate fishing, platforms have been added to some of the reconditioned spans, including the 2.2-mile Long Key Bridge and smaller spans at Channel 2, Toms Harbor, and Toms Harbor Cut. In addition, the trail links a number of superb natural areas and historic sites.
Some highlights include:
Parking is available in many places throughout the Florida Keys. For detailed route information traveling from Key West, visit the FKOHT northbound route map. For detailed route information traveling from Key Largo, visit the FKOHT southbound route map.
For more information, contact:
Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
Office of Greenways & Trails
3 La Croix Court
Key Largo, FL 33037
With winter approaching and freezing temperatures at home it seemed like the ideal time to cycle the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. This 106.5 mile Rail-Trail offers a scenic tropical bicycling adventure without leaving the continental United States.
The trail runs on Henry Flagler’s old railroad from mile marker 106 in Key Largo to mile marker 0 in Key West, Florida parallel to US Route 1. While more than 75 miles of the rail-trail were paved, several large sections of the trail and bridges were recently damaged by hurricane Irma. Unfortunately, much of the damage has not been repaired yet. As a result, cyclists are forced on to the roadway on bike lanes or narrow shoulders with the usual road debris and hazards. I did experience a flat.
So, riders beware! Although this trail is classified as a rail trail, it is not for the faint of heart when it comes to riding on the road. Expect a lot of road cycling on a busy highway with cars and large trucks speeding by alongside of you. In addition, the trail continually changes from side to side along US Route 1 forcing cyclists to cross the highway.
My wife and I took the trip together and really enjoyed it. We started at Key Largo by parking our vehicle (free of charge with advance arrangements) at the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce/Visitor's Center. We unloaded our bikes here and started at 6 AM pedaling south from mile marker 106. We were in Key West at 4 PM. Other than a few blinding rainstorms, the trip was uneventful. We enjoyed an extra day and night in Key West, then headed north. Knowing that wind conditions are tougher going north, we planned the return trip in 2 days - smart planning! 50 miles into the 20-25 mph winds was all we wanted to tackle in one day. All along the way, you'll find great little restaurants, shops, etc. On the way north, we decided not to tempt our fate a second time on the 7 mile bridge. Here's a secret...the Lower Keys has a bus service with stops scattered all throughout the Keys. Buses have bike racks on them, and for just a few bucks you can put your bike on the bus and ride across the 7 mile bridge, or through any other areas that you wish not to bike. One more tip...we took a long time in advance studying Google Earth satellite and street views to get a good idea of what we were up against. Very good tool to help you see the bike path, bridges, etc.
I was pleased to also see a bit of construction going on as well on the bridges. Yes, several of the bridges are closed as other posts have pointed out, but it's all about finding the funds for these infrastructure projects. I will look forward to the day when the trail is complete and bikers can be totally separate from traffic.
All in all, it was a great 212 mile trip (less 10 miles on the bus!)...if you like biking in a tropical environment, this may be the trail for you.
This is my first time biking the Overseas Heritage Trail and I normally don't bike anywhere besides dedicated bike trails. I biked the trail on Thu/Fri April 20-21.
I had my wife drop me off in Key Largo on day 1 and I biked to Marathon. The bike trail and lanes were really well thought out and the few times I had to cross the street really were not a big deal. Just waited for an ebb to the traffic and easy peasy. I was happily surprised at how wide the bike lanes were.
Day 2 started with biking over the 7-mile bridge and for the most part of this ride, I rode on the oncoming side of the road. This part of the ride did not have as many miles of dedicated bike trails and a number of the pedestrian bridges were closed forcing me to bike over the bridges. I had no issues with this as there was more than enough space (4-6+ ft) keeping me away from cars. There were a number of sections of this part of the trail where I had to ride on the road/curb but for the most part, I typically had a 4+ ft curb. My preference is to ride against oncoming traffic (on the curb or bike lane) as I feel if someone swerves off the road, I at least will see it and have time to get out of the way. I made sure to keep a blinking light on the front and rear of the bike and the two times I saw a car start swerving onto the curb, they immediately corrected as I assume they saw me and my blinking light. Both drivers had their cell phone in their hand as they passed.
I used the comments on this site to prepare for the ride and hope my comments provide help for others. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and most likely will bike the entire trip in one day the next time.
My wife and I completed the Florida Keys trail in late January, 2017. We did the ride in four days while enjoying stops to various Keys for the evenings. It was a great experience as we concluded our trip with two days in Key West. However, like many have reviewed on this site, expect a lot of road biking with car zooming around you. Overall I would estimate road cycling at about 80-85% with the remainder being nice trails for bikers/walkers. My wife is a bit hesitant for doing rides on roads. The good news is she is glad she did it...however if she had known the road activity she would have passed on this trip. The following recaps our trip for your consideration:
-Rented the bikes from All Keys Cycles in Key Largo. Nice guys with older but very well conditioned bikes. Bikes came with a tube and CO2 pump. It was needed as we did get one flat. All Keys Cycles picked up our bike in Key West. Bikes are hybrids, highly recommended. Don't suggest road bikes unless you stay on the road 100%.
-First day biked from Key Largo to Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada. Very nice resort with reasonable prices. Highly recommend. We stopped for a drink at Marker 88, nice stop with great views. About 22 miles this day.
-Day two Islamorada to Marathon. Longer ride around 35 miles. We wanted to get to Marathon to take on 7 Mile Bridge early in the morning. Stop in to Angler and Ale for lunch on Duck Key-awesome. In Marathon stayed at Tranquility Bay Resort. Nice resort with a bar great views of the gulf.
-Day Three, started at sunrise to take on 7 Mile Bridge. Start early for less traffic. There was still a significant amount of traffic with a narrow bike lane. No issues, the fastest my wife went all week. :) Destination was Ramrod Key, Looe Resort, about 22 miles. We got there around 10a, room unavailable until 3pm. Very little to do in lower keys unless you are a fishermen or diver. We are neither. Nice folks with "retro" accommodations.
-Day Four, destination Key West. Great ride from Ramrod Key, mostly trail with a few surprises of trail endings...then back on Highway 1. Around a 30 mile ride. Stayed at Saint Hotel an Autograph Selection hotel of Marriott. Used my points. Great location on Eaton street and a secret exit for Duvall street. Highly recommended. We enjoyed a couple days and drinks in Key West with no more biking.
-Saturday walked over to Enterprise to pick up our rental car for a day. Drove to Ft. Lauderdale airport.
In sum, a great experience. If you are comfortable on the road, a Highway...go for it. We are glad we did but wouldn't do it again. BTW, you go over 43 bridges.
Lets continue to help Rails To Trails so maybe some dollars can be allocated in advancing the Keys Trail.
I just completed the ride from Key Largo to Key West for the 2nd year in a row and this year a friend joined me. We both are experienced bike riders who ride about 2000-3000 miles a year in our home states of MA and NY. We enjoyed the ride, but have a few concerns relative as to why the signage is very limited. Also, I'm asking the same question that others have asked in reviews - why are the some of the rebuilt bridges for bikers and walkers closed and there are no signs to let you know this until you get to the bridge (many times having to cross the road) and find them locked. This happened four times during the trip before we decided to stay o the the left hand side, riding facing traffic for the last 25 miles to Key West (knowing that all the bridges are on the Northbound side). More signage to alert bikers of bridges that are closed would make this ride much safer.
We did the complete ride and rode across all bridges including the 7 mile bridge with no problems. However, everyone should consider the wind conditions, especially when riding over the 7 mile bridge. If it's too windy, avoid it until a calmer day. We had no tire problems and my wife dropped us off at the starting point each day and then picked us up. We averaged 25-35 miles a day with 2 - 3 hours of riding time a day. If we do this again, we will do it in 3 days - we are 70 years old and had no problem with the ride.
We hope that the FDOT will prioritize safety for this trail for everyone. Proper signage is most important as this keeps bikers from crossing the road when it's not necessary.
This trail goes through one of the most unique and beautiful parts
of the U.S. and we enjoyed riding over the bridges to see the amazing views of the water. Happy and safe biking!
I pedaled from Fort Clinch to Key West along route 1 and A1A last week. I've heard about unsafe conditions along the Overseas Heritage Trail, but found this not to be true. The Florida DOT is doing an amazing job building roads with trails and side paths all along my trip. Florida could become one of the top states for bicycling. If you don't want to ride the slower paths, only the streets, then I guess there is more danger from traffic than I encountered on my slower ride using sidewalks and paths when avaiable.
When you are pedaling to the Keys from Florida City or Homestead DO NOT use Card Sound Road. US1 is very safe with a wide shoulder bike path. I am trying to get Google Maps to direct bikers to US1 but have not had any success.
Our group of 8 riders was very excited to ride this trail. We've always emphasized water-based activities when in the Keys, so this would be a totally different kind of trip. Let me preface my remarks by saying we are all experienced road riders. We commute by bike, ride Rail Trails, tour country roads, etc. My husband and I have been all over with our road tandem, including the Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive, and Northern Ireland. We started our ride in Key Largo and rode to Key West, then back (total 225 miles in 5.5 days). Not really sure this can be considered a Rail Trail experience. Let me first start with the pros: The scenery is beautiful, there are plenty of places along the way for eating, drinking, sight-seeing, and lodging, and certain off-road sections are wonderful. Now the cons. The trail is constantly changing sides of the road, forcing cyclists to cross busy US1. We decided it was safer to ride in the bike lane rather than crossing the road in most cases (exceptions being the Long Bridge and Old Dixie Highway). The ride down was easier because of the wind at our backs, and even the Seven Mile Bridge wasn't too bad since it didn't take that long to get across. However, the ride from south to north (or west to east) has the better trail. More of the off-the-road trail is on the east side of the highway. The Seven Mile Bridge coming back was the most terrifying bike riding we've ever done! Not only is the shoulder (not an explicit bike lane) more narrow than most of the other bridges, but the speed limit is 55 mph. In my opinion, there's no need for the speed limit to be over 45 ANYWHERE in the Keys, and should mostly be 35 mph. Another issue we had was that most of the bridges had adjacent, intact bridges alongside for pedestrians and bicyclists, but for some unknown reason they were closed! Perhaps the bridges have been deemed unsafe, but to be riding along, and all of a sudden the trail ends, with no paved access back to the highway, is ridiculous. Then to return to the trail after the bridge, again we were forced to off-road it through grass and gravel. Several times we would cross the highway to get to the pedestrian bridge only to find it was gated closed. We suffered six flats all together during this ride. All in all we had a fun trip but would not recommend this for novices. Certain sections were wonderful, truly off the road and separated with vegetation, or the old highway, or even a smooth path. But a lot of the trail was no more than a glorified sidewalk (especially through the "towns" where we were competing with cars entering and exiting businesses--highly dangerous). Perhaps in a few years the pedestrian/bicycles bridges will be open and the ride will be better. But for us, we've checked this off our bucket list and there's no need to do it again.
We just finished riding on the Heritage trail May 2016.. Several tips to make it more enjoyable. Go only from Key Largo to Key West. Riding South to North is more difficult because of the wind. We stayed at a great hotel in Key Largo called Marina del Mar Resort. Great views, tiki bar and pool. You can also leave your car there for several days and rent a van from Key West to Key Largo for the return trip. Go to dinner at The Fish House for the best seafood in the Keys especially Yellowtail snapper in lemon sauce. Then go to Jimmie Johnson's restaurant called the Big Chill for cocktails and nice sunset. Both are only a 5 minute drive from hotel heading north. Leave at 6am the next morning and ride 46 miles to Marathon and stay at the Holiday Inn Express. This is very close to the start of the Seven Mile Bridge. Travel the next day 56 miles to Key West. 60-70% of the trail is a dedicated bike trail and 30-40% is on US 1 South. There is a lot of sharp debri on the seven mile bridge which is the only time we got a flat tire. Bring an extra tube and CO2 cartridge. We only passed one bike shop on the way down visible from the roads so be prepared. Bike path is only 4 ft wide on the 7 mile bridge. There are only a few places to eat along the way so bring plenty of water. While in Key West take a sunset powered catamaran with a company called Fury. Ask for the boat with the band. Also take a 2 hr high speed ferry to The Dry Tortugas(Ft. Jefferson) Great tour but snorkeling is average. Guided tour of the Hemmingway house was excellent. I would also take the Trolley guided hop on hop off ride in Key West. I would only go from Key Largo to Key West but not the opposite way. Overall it was a great trip but trails are not as good as your routine rails to trails but it is worth doing once especially if you have never been to the Keys. Hope this is helpful.
I just returned from my second camping/biking trip in the Keys. This year I planned to ride the entire distance from Key Largo to Key West both ways. I had three days to accomplish this, a tight schedule and a lofty goal for a 71 year old man. Being all alone, I planned on riding a section, then turning around and riding back to my truck, then driving to the next section. I planned on returning to my camp site each evening.
I Arrived at Long Key State Park early to set up my camp and then ride a 24 mile loop around Long Key before dark. The Next morning I began where I left off south, and rode 36 miles to Key Largo and 36 miles back. I had to ride some of the way on the hi-way shoulder, but I never encountered anyplace where it was too narrow for my Catrike.
The next two days I rode several shorter sections totaling 50 miles each day. I skipped over the 7 mile bridge and two other long bridges and two other short stretches where the shoulder was just too narrow, one on Upper Sugerloaf Key and one on Big Coppet Key. Overall I found the trail an improvement over last year and I expect it will improve again before I come next spring. On my second day I watched a crew laying a section of new trail on Little Torch Key and the next day I made fresh tracks on it.
The people I encountered were extremely pleasant, especially in Marathon and Key West, where I rode around a bit on the city streets. I can't tell you how many "thumbs up" my Catrike and I received from drivers even as I impeded their movement.
In all I rode 193.6 miles, spent 14.6 hours peddling and averaged 13.27 MPH...
What follows are some reflections for casual bikers on biking the Keys slowly (4 days) from Key Largo to Key West. My wife and I are in our 60's. This was our first significant bike trip outside of 15 mile day trips on rails-to-trails trails near out home in Western Pennsylvania. I will include some of the logistical details such as getting a bus or taxi across 7-Mile Bridge at Marathon, and catching a bus (buses actually) from Key West to Key Largo. If you have questions after reading this, or would like dining and lodging recommendations, please contact me (joelw.cannon at gmail). I benefitted greatly from Bob Youker's advice (another resource whose comments appear on this site), and am happy to helping others in the same way.
First some general observations. I expect that the trail is unique in that almost all of it lies along Highway 1, a busy, noisy highway that is 4 lanes wide for most of the way. Those expecting something like the quiet Rails-To-Trails rides elsewhere may be disappointed. This is a function of the Keys' geography. In many spots, the land will extend 50 yards or less to either side of the highway. There is no place to put a trail away from the road. Despite the noise, it proved to be a pleasant February ride for us as we left snow and winter behind, and enjoyed the ocean, Palm Trees, etc. Most of the trail is right along the road and it crosses multiple times (with patience, we had no trouble crossing -- but if not patient, these crossings will be dangerous), I suspect that we never waited more than a minute for a sufficient break in traffic for an easy crossing. There are several short ~1-5 mile stretches where the trail is separate from the road, or where there are quieter sections of parallel roads. There are also nice parks in which to quietly explore the Keys ecology.
Several comments I read before embarking had me worried about flat tires. We had no flats and and encountered few of the problematic rocks the comments mentioned. I suspect the people who had these sorts of troubles were serious bikers with road bikes who chose to ride on the highway shoulder. We rented hybrids in Key Largo (at All Keys Cycle). The bike trail winds a bit and is probably too slow for serious bikers.
The trail is on the order of 90% finished. There is a wide shoulder in several sections where it is not finished. The principal exceptions are the bridges, some of which have relatively narrow (4 -6 feet) shoulders. Others have nice wide shoulders that make riding comfortable. In some cases, there are parallel bike and pedestrian bridges. Occasionally we encountered bike/pedestrian bridges that appeared to be complete and ready, but had not been opened. In others, a little closer observation revealed that the parallel bridges had decayed and clearly would have been dangerous had they been open. Perhaps because I have had more experience riding with traffic while growing up in rural Oregon and while commuting by bicycle in traffic while living in San Diego, riding on the shoulder of the bridges or the sections of the road that required it did not bother me. Riding on the shoulders did bother my wife, who commented that, "It will be a great trail 10 years from now when the trail is completely finished," and expressed her desire not to ride the trail again until it is finished. I expect most casual cyclists will want to take a taxi or bus across Seven Mile Bridge (on the lower Keys side of Marathon). The cheapest option if you can get it is to catch the Key West Transit Lower Keys Shuttle, which has a bike rack on the front. Unfortunately, there was only 1 bike spot available when the bus appeared so I had to call a Taxi, which took me across the bridge for $20. I believe 2 of the 4 Marathon taxis have bike racks. On the plus side, the views from the bridges are stunning if you can relax enough to look around.
If you travel in February as we did, you will want to make reservations and make them at least several weeks, preferably a month, before traveling. We managed to get all our reservations 3 weeks before leaving, but it was tight. Be prepared to spend money on lodging. With one exception, we found we had never paid so much for so little -- we were surprised that the Lower Keys were as expensive as Key West.
If you are used to frequenting Starbucks or high-end coffee shops, you may find the Upper and Middle Keys a throwback to a different time. I discovered that if you pass a coffee shop, you are probably not going to find another for some time. Two exceptions were a Bistro in Islamarada, whose proprieter was a French immigrant, and Baby's Coffee on or near Sugarloaf Key. The Cuban Coffee shops also offer a pleasant if sweet alternative.
Trip Details: We took All-Keys Shuttle from Ft. Lauderdale airport (be sure to make reservations) to All Keys Cycle in Key Largo ($40/person), where we rented our bikes and pedaled to our Motel. We stayed multiple nights at several places. The biking days included:
Day 1: Key Largo to Islamarada (17.5 miles)
Day 2: Islamarada to Marathon (31.5 mies)
Day 3: Marathon to Sugarloaf Key (28 miles, plus 7 miles taxi across Seven Mile Bridge)
Day 4: Sugarloaf Key to Key West (16 miles)
After a few days in Key West, we caught the Key West Transit Lower Keys Shuttle near the start of its route ($1.50 for seniors). Get off The Lower Keys Shuttle at the K-Mart in Marathon (Mile 50). From there, we caught the Miami-Dade Shuttle, which cost $2.65 -- that may be discounted for being a senior). No bike rack, but the bikes were stowed in the luggage compartment in the bus and, based on my conversation when I called to get the schedule, and make sure we could get our bike's on, they carry bikes regularly. Since the Lower Keys Shuttle carried only 2 or 3 bikes (depending on the bus), it was a bit stressful waiting to see if we could get our bikes on the shuttle. We caught the bus at what was nearly the first stop (near the post office in the historic district). I believe the bus starts from Key West Transit's office. If that is the case, I might be inclined to pedal there next time to reduce the chances of not being able to use the bike rack.
Some of the nice side trips we took, were to Pennekamp and Dagny Johnson State Parks in Key Largo. Long Key State Park had a great nature trail showing the ecology of the Keys (so did Pennekamp). Sombrero Beach Park in Marathon is another little gem. There is burned wooden bridge on Sugarloaf Key that we learned about from two locals. It was off the beaten path and made a pleasant side trip out through the woods and channels. Geiger Key Marina also provided a nice side trip. We also enjoyed pedaling off the highway to look at some of the neighborhoods.
Two nice places to depart from and ride on a quiet road parallel to the highway include Old Route 4A on Plantation Key, which you get on by staying left as you come of the Tavernier Creek Bridge, and Old Route 4A again in Islamarada, which you get on by turning left at Chesapeake Resort.
Call (305-853-3571) or email the Florida Overseas Heritage Trail office and get a current map. The double-wide map is nice for planning using on your trip. You will also probably want to link to the on-line version: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park-documents/Florida-Keys/map
A somewhat out-of-date, but still useful guide, prepared in 2011 is here: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/state/keystrail/pdf/SOUTHBOUND.pdf It seems to be an orphaned site which is difficult to find using search engines. Hopefully this link will stay active. Much more of the trail from 7-Mile Bridge into Key West has been finished since the guide was produced.
For side trails: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/state/keystrail/bike_trails.htm
The 2014 Rails-to-Trails magazine article that piqued our interest in the ride: http://magazine.railstotrails.org/resources/magflipbooks/2014_winter/index.html
You can get a large folded map of the Keys with lots of detail for $7.99 at http://www.kappamapgroup.com/
It appears Florida DOT is removing part of the heritage Trail on marathon key
How disappointing! It appears the DOT is going to remove a full half mile of the trail that is already established! Making an extra car lane out of it - I suppose to support new development on Somberro Road (a developer wants to tear out more natural treed area and put in 50 plus units - so I guess they need to make the road wider for cars too!).
WORK TO BE PERFORMED:
South of 33 Street/MM 48.70 to North of 37 Street/MM 49.03
• Repaving and restriping the road
• Widening the roadway to add a two-way turning lane
• Modifying the intersection at 33 Street from a T intersection to a four sided intersection
• Installing new drainage, curb and gutter, and sidewalks
• Updating signage and pavement markings
• Designating the outside travel lanes to be shared with bicycles known as a “sharrow”
• Removing the existing Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail on the north side and removal of the asphalt sidewalk on the south side
From about mile 15 all the way to Key West it is excellent trail except for one small spot about mile 11. At about mile 15 at Bay Point Park there is parking behind Babies Coffee Shop. From here the trail all on the Ocean side goes thru the Saddle Bunch Keys over several refurbished old rail and old highway bridges to a point near mile 11 just past a boat launch site. Starting here for about 100 yards the trail is the very narrow shoulder of US 1 until Boca Chica Road and the K gas station where the normal trail starts up again. This small section should be a priority for the State Management of the Trail to complete since the ownership of land is not in question. Youker
From Key Largo to Key West the trail is off and on. The FDOT is playing games with cyclists lives to get budget . On several bridges the FDOT upgraded rails and other improvements to separate the trail from the two lane over crowded US 1. To then turn around and close the bridges to put cyclists back on the hiway with very narrow shoulders is either incompetent or contemptuous. The trail has numerous switchbacks across the hiway. Every crossing of this hiway is a big risk. The number of bicycle crosses on the roadside is testament to FDOT callousness.
Congratulations to the Florida park system for completing a new trail section from mile 105 to mile 100 (at the red light)on the north or bay side of Rt.1. There are now trails on both sides of Rt. 1. However for some reason many of the old bridges have been fenced off destroying any type of continuous biking in many spots.
Many of the people writing very negative reviews would have been much better off if they had read all the reviews before their trip. There are two very different ways to bike the trail. One is to use the side of the road all the way on the 2-3 foot wide shoulder and hope the cars and trucks do not kill you. Most people taking this method end up not using any of the actual trail at all. The other is to bike the trail which is separate from the road and is only about 80 miles of the 106 miles of the total distance to Key West. On Plantation Key and Upper Matecumber Key there are parallel old roads with very little traffic that avoid the sort of biking on sidewalks. To bike the second way you need to have a car, stay in motels and bike the sections both ways. Youker
The trail parts are very nice. The parts where you ride along side the highway and over all the bridges are scary. The road is very busy all day, with lots of big trucks going up and down the highway. The shoulder where you ride is covered with all sorts of debris, creating a real obstacle course. Those parts of the ride killed the enjoyment for me.
Rode the Heritage Trail from Stock Island to Lower Sugarloaf Key (and back). I would have loved to have gone further, but 13 1/2 miles out from Stock on a Fuji rental bike (after three days of cycling around Key West in the humidity) was more than my bum was ready for. Would love to go back with my own bike. Trail is extremely well maintained, the views are spectacular, and the hundreds of iguanas that you will see along the way will reluctantly skitter off to the side as you approach! This trail is made for cruising, but you will want to stop many times along the way to just LOOK.
My Catrike Expedition is 30 inches wide so I did not plan on riding the segments where the "trail" consisted of a three foot wide strip on the edge of the two lane highway, but I was greatly disappointed that so many of the new bridges were closed and fenced off by the state of Florida which require more riding of those three foot wide strips across the bridges.
I cannot imagine why the state would close off perfectly good bridges and force bikes to mix it up with car and truck traffic.
Other than that, there were many nice segments of the trail finished. My rides consisted of unloading the bike, riding as far as I deemed it to be safe, turning around, riding back, loading up, and driving to the next ridable section.
My wife are from UK and have just competed the trail in mid April.
First for us Brits the heat was a surprise and so tried to start early and get to our destination early afternoon to cool down and chill.
Key Largo and US1 on a Friday evening was a major shock for traffic! once we got to Tavernier and then further south the ride was enjoyable. We had not appreciated the amount of the trail actually on route 1, but once away from US1 the trail was great. We like the fun of the fishing bridges, and the old state route. All the diners and cafes we were recommended were friendly and good along the way ,plus helpful bike shops when needed. Yes we had to change two tubes and one tyre. But that is the luck and fun of biking! On the big question of 7 mile bridge we got a cab, and from the back seat of the cab it did not look like fun! We met some Germans also doing the trail, who also took a cab over the bridge.
It is clear work continues to complete the trail, and it should be good when done.
Ever thought of a ferry as an alternative to the 7 mile bridge?
We are already looking at other trail trips in US based on our experience.
I set out from Key Largo for a two day ride to Key West in March of 2015. I was totally disappointed. The Florida Tourism Bureau needs to take this trail off off the list. The 106 miles is more of a chopped up mess of haphazard trails. It follows one of the busiest two lane roads in the country. Not only does a rider have to ride most of it on the shoulders,you have to switch from side to side because of the shoulder width. Crossing the two lanes can take several minutes due to the constant traffic. For the most part the trail in the towns is a sidewalk. Drivers jet from the convenience stores and gas stations without giving the bicyclist a thought. Shortly after the Seven Mile Bridge crossing I stopped a Florida State Trooper. I asked him where the trail was. He laughed and said there was no trail. He admitted he was a cyclist and said he would not ride his bike "out here".
I would not recommend using anything other than a hybrid. Large gravel is everywhere. I had two flats. One was caused by a piece of wire. The other looked like glass.
For the 7th year in a row I am doing the Overseas heritage trail but this time operating from the Sugarloaf Lodge Motel. A bike rider was killed a few miles west of here on the road recently. Locals and I do not recommend biking the road and the narrow shoulders on the bridges. I just bike the sections which are separate for the road. The new sections on Cudjoe and Summerland Keys are separate from the road and shaded. If thru riders would do more research they could identify parts of the trail they could use instead of the road and narrow shoulders. Several important old bridges have been fenced off due to structural problems. Jan 22- 82 degrees and no snow. Youker
Trial was good in Marathon.A side trip to Sombrero Beach is a must.If you need to rent Overseas Outfitters is great.$15.all day.Located just north of the 7 mile bridge. Rich Burke Easton Pa.
It was great trip. Trails were fine and when sharing the road with motorist there was no problem. We( 4 of us) were nervous about the seven mile bridge and the trails to follow on our way to Key West but we had no problems.We did the ride in two days so we were able to cross the seven mile bridge early in the morning which I strongly recommend to avoid traffic. Construction around Key Largo was a little bit of a pain but bearable. There was four of us biking and we were all pleasantly surprised how much bike path there actually is. I would recommend this trip to everyone it was wonderful! PS we are not serious bikers, we cruise between 12-14 MPH!
After looking through some of the other reviews the only conclusion is that maybe at this time the ride is not for beginner cyclists or those who are nervous around traffic. The trail network itself is wonderful but it is not complete so there are many area where you have to mix with and ride with traffic. With that said I have never had an issue with any motorists on the route. I live in North East Ohio and have done the entire out and back ride 5 times. I love it for the scenery and looking forward to riding it again next week. I would not recommend using a skinny tire road bike but my cross bike with 35's is perfect.
You can go to the FKOHT site and on the right hand side is current construction status'.
My wife and I are thinking about riding the trail in December. Does anyone have a more recent review of the trail conditions? Has there been significant work accomplished over the summer?
Yes lots of construction, trail changes weekly! Needs a lot more signage! Rode on hybrid tires and had no problems. Stayed in motels along the way with no problems GREAT food! Rode 162 miles with all the side trips over 6 days. Not a wilderness adventure, 7 mile bridge shoulder was 5 feet, was the hardest. But we will do this again!
Because you are going to need a lot of spare tires if you expect to log any mileage at all.
I am from Ohio, drove to Key Largo in hopes of logging some awesome mileage, no to be.
The trail is by far the worst I have ridden,
construction, sharp rocks, roots, potholes, crossroads galore, and did I mention sharp rocks.I road from Key Largo to Islamorada and back, there was maybe one patch of black top of about 500 feet that was decent. I run Kevlar front and back had a flat within 40 miles, the whole ride I was grimacing and dodging and dodging and grimacing, wasn't a fun ride. Road twice and said I'm done, broke out the fat tires and road like an old man on a trike the rest of the trip
Do "Not" bring your road bike here, tons of traffic with disrespectful drivers that break the three foot law almost wanting to hit you, cyclist haven't any road rights here.
Now if you want to lumber down to the local shell shop on a fat tire bike, you may be ok, but use caution at the crossroads.
As a tourist attraction I am very disappointed that the powers that be have not taken an interest in maintaining this what could be a treasure of the keys and a possible cycling mecca.
Larry B. in Dis-Spare
I rode the Trail in January/February, 2014 and would like to share my observations. First, in many places, the Trail is basically a sidewalk/path, within a few feet of busy, noisy, dirty US #1. It's also sometimes very narrow and intersects with numerous driveways and side streets, in other words, not very tranquil. Through riders will need to cross numerous bridges on highway shoulders, including the "new" seven mile bridge. This may be a challenge for novice cyclists. There is also a lack of parking for those cyclists who choose a do a section at a time as the Trail sometimes "disappears" withour notice. The 2015 completion date for the trail is too optimistic!The highlights of the ride are the old bridges which are open only to pedestrians and cyclists, although cyclists will need to dodge fishermen and their assorted garbage and equipment. The old seven mile bridge is awesome, even though it only goes two miles. It costs $12 to set foot on Pigeon Island at the end of the bridge!
In my recent review I was a little ahead of time and the FKOHT digital map is not correct. The south or west end of Sugarloaf Key has some unconnected old pieces of trail but the beginning of new trail all the way to Key West is about an mile west. Bob
Today I biked the wonderful new sections of the trail on Summerland and Cudjoe Keys which are complete except for signs. The new trails are wide, shaded and separated from the highway. The highway bridge over Kemp channel has wide shoulders you can use since the old RR bridge is closed. You can cross the old bridge to Sugarloaf Key but the trail there is non existent. (just starting some construction maybe) Starting at the other end of Sugarloaf Key the rest of new trail is complete to Key West. Wonderful news. Youker my 6th trip
The various keys are installing a sewer system which in January 2014 means lots of construction problems which are not noted on the FKOHT web site. Around Mile 106 to 104 or so is pretty rough but it is being finished fast and then paved wider and better. The back roads on Plantation Key, Widley Key and Islamorada also have some construction. If you ride the shoulder on US Rt 1 there is not a problem but I do not.
Jan 13-16, 2014. Picked up the trail in Islamadora, near a bridge that had parking. The trail passes across many housing/business entry ways. Care must be taken at each point. The trail requires crossing US-1 several times. Generally good pavement; occasional bumps/debris. Several 'bike /fishing only' bridges allowed us a fun ride across. Unfortunately several bridges you must ride the often debris laden shoulder with 55 mph traffic; we didn't. Most old adjacent bridges are blocked so you can't ride safely. Some trails were freshly laid, and active construction on others. As we drove the car from Islamdora to Key West, we noticed some areas (Marathon) that had bike bridges and newish safe trail lengths. Recommend starting in Marathon for those wanting to stay over and ride some trail distance without traffic issues.
Short but nice ride to or from Key West to mile 8. All off the highway along dedicated path. In Key West there are several options to pick up a few more miles.
There is no way I am going to share the road with these crazy motorists! The Florida Keys are beautiful, but I prefer to wait until one day when we will have a safer ride completely separated from traffic. (Had 3 friends killed riding in traffic at sunset)
I started road cycling about 8 years ago when I decided that it might be fun to bike with my son's Boy Scout troop 419 miles around the Gold Triangle (Skagway, Alaska to Haines, Alaska) Well, it was fun and I was hooked. Living in AK our cycling includes lots of rain and in some cases very steep terrain. Not to mention some pretty cold days. So I started looking for something a lot less challenging and warmer, but not too warm that it was uncomfortable.
I connected with RTC and found The Overseas Heritage Trail. This trail was perfect because it was mostly flat and the weather in FLA in the winter and spring was just as perfect. So with my trip planned and bike rented I was ready to begin my FLA cycling adventure. Since that first 100 mile bike ride, I have since biked it 3 more times and I plan on biking it again in March.
I absolutely LOVE this trail. There is so much beauty to see that sometimes it's hard to focus on the rode. If you plan on biking this trail, focusing on the trail is very important. The trail is improving every year and I was told that by 2015, there will be a bike trail from Key Largo to Key West. This past March about 80% of this trail has a bike lane. In some spots the bike lane flows against traffic so you have to cross the highway. In some spots it's not worth crossing over however, in some spots the road is pretty narrow and you will want to use that path.
I know I have read that some folks have encounter debris on the highway and this is correct. Most of it is very visible and should not be a problem as far as flat tires are concerned however, always travel with a spare or two just in case.
It is very easy to bike this trail in one day however, if you want to see the Keys, rent a hotel room along the way because each Key has something wonderful to offer you in terms of food, drinking at great beach side bars, visiting a Turtle refuge or dolphin habitat. You will see wildlife along side the road as well. I have not yet seen a gator and I hope not too.
For those of you that love a challenge, this is such a fun trek to see if you can make it to Key West from Key Largo in under 5 hours. The winds are just wonderful and when I bike it I always give myself plenty of time to watch the winds so that I can choose a day when I will have the wind on my back. Tailwinds are great for cycling from Key Largo to Key West.
This is definitely a trail that you can bike with you teens, anyone younger I would only recommend doing short distances a day and when there is not a trail put the bikes on a bike rack and drive it! There are too many vehicles to enjoy this trail if you are worried about your little one.
If you are thinking about a fun, warm cycling tour, the Overseas Heritage Trail is the best and I HIGHLY recommend it!
Happy Cycling From Alaska
Rode the trail in May 2013. We started in Florida City and did 22 miles along highway 1 before the trail started in Key Largo. Encountered lots of rain and wind in the morning hours that turned into a great afternoon ride to Marathon. The trail in Key Largo was underwater from the rain in several places and quite rough in others. With a marked trail along the road we had to be careful of cars entering and leaving the roadway. About mile 92 we lost the trail for a bit and then found it again. Parts were dug up for a water project that was going to result in a restored trail after. Some of the trail was away from the roadway and along the waterway. Iguanas sunning themselves would run in front of the bike. The last fifty miles into Key west were better but used the shoulder in many places where the trail was under construction. Seven mile bridge was a lot of fun and you did have to watch for debris along the road. Three riders and four flats from radial belts means be prepared to change out some tubes.want to do it again and know it will get better and better.
During the 1st week in December the wife and I rode the Overseas Heritage Trail from Key Largo to Key West. We began our trip by traveling down to Florida on the Amtrak auto-train, with our bicycles & gear loaded in the back of our station wagon. Driving from Sanford, Fla to Key Largo took 6 hours. We stayed overnight at the Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort that is located at ~M103.6, and made arrangements to leave our car there for the duration of this excursion. We accomplished the ride over the course of 4 days averaging a very modest pace of 25-35 miles per day (includes side trips), averaging 9-10 mph and approximately 3 hrs of wheel time each day. Winds were out of the N/NE and were at our back for the entire ride! We also stayed in Key West for 1 extra day so that we could do sightseeing and be able to ride the 10-mile loop around its perimeter.
To carry our clothing and gear we utilized a set of rear panniers on my bike. Both of us had a rear rack top bag and a handlebar bag. In total this weighed in close to 55-lbs, with maybe 40-lbs on mine and 15-lbs on my wife’s. Our bicycles are relatively inexpensive 18-spd 26” trail bikes (Raleigh and Trek) with 26x1.95 tires that are slick on the center. With 60-65-lb inflation they roll fast and make for a comfortable long-day touring ride. Our stop points for this ride were as follows: Day 1 - Islamorada – Hampton Inn & Suites; Day 2 - Marathon – Holiday Inn Express; Day 3 - Little Torch Key – Dolphin Marina; Day 4&5 – Key West – Best Western Hibiscus.
We utilized the Trail Map and Ride Directions that are available on the Overseas Heritage website. The map is dated Nov-2010 and the ride directions dated May-2011, but they are still quite accurate. Between Key Largo and Marathon riding on the established trail (or along the old US-1) is pretty simple and straight-forward. Throughout this area the trail is well marked, and changes from ocean-side to bay-side are well marked with crossing lines. However between Marathon and Key West the complexity of the ride changes significantly. From Marathon to Big Pine Key there is almost no trail, and most of the ride must be done on the shoulder of the road. Fortunately each of the bridges to be crossed have a really nice, wide shoulder area (6’ or 8’) to ride across on. We did not encounter any serious road debris (i.e. tire chunks) and almost no broken glass. From Big Pine Key to Key West the small segments of trail seem to flip back and forth from bay to ocean side and back again with no apparent pattern. Sometimes the bicycle lane is marked on both shoulders of the road. In most cases the trail bridge crossings in this lower region (where they exist) tend to be on the ocean side – on the opposite side of the highway from where the road shoulders are marked as a bicycle lane! I can tell you – trying to cross back and forth is a dangerous thing to do on US Rt 1 at any time of the year. Speaking of time of year – this first week in December is probably the “slowest” part of the season throughout the Keys. Hotels had plenty of room, restaurants were not crowded, and the road traffic was pretty much from local residents as opposed to tourist &/or snow bird traffic.
I just finished this off road trail from Key Largo to Key West for the third January in a row. Many bikers ride the narrow shoulder for the entire 106 miles from Key Largo to Key West including the 7 mile bridge, but I prefer the safety of the about 70 miles of off highway trail based on the old RR bridges and the byways of old Route 4A as well as trail along sidewalks. I stay in motels, park the car and ride in both directions. Often the wind is bad on the rides to the east. In the past year the Florida State Office of Greenways for the trail has completed several new sections including Casey Key and Ramrod Key. In the later section they use highway bridges but ones with a very wide shoulder. This web site has a linkage to their web site where a map is available. Youker
I did most of this trail again in January 2010 based in a rented condo in Marathon. I just want to add that they are constructing three new sections at Craigs Key, the east end of Grassy Key and some bridges in the lower Keys. There are also several routes off the basic trail for additional cycling. All are marked on the excellent map from the Florida Greenways and Trails web site or in the brochure available from the various visitors center in the Keys. Youker
I finished the trail Jan 26, 2009. I highly recommend the sections with a separate paved path and I do not recommend those sections where you must ride on the narrow sholders with heavy truck traffic going by which I did not do, although I met several thru bikers who did put themselves at risk. Being alone I would park my car and bike a section going both ways. The wind was bad every day on the west to east sections. I stayed in motels in Key Largo and Big Pine Key. At the end I biked the full circle of Key West parking at the old fort Taylor. Each of the five main keys has a visitors center for rest stops and there are also many state parks with facilities. The 2 mile long Long Key Bridge and the 2 mile bridge to Pigeon Key were especially scenic. Youker
The trail improves significantly as you travel away from Key Largo.
Traveling from Big Pine Key to Key West is great although some of the ride is on the highway shoulder. Ride Early to avoid the traffic.
"My wife and I rode our recumbents on the Overseas Heritage Trail this afternoon. We began our ride in Key Largo and rode south for about seven miles.
The trail is right next to US1, a major highway. It's too noisy with cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc. in close proximity. The trail is in serious need of repair. There are holes, rocks and bumps all over the place.
The only nice part of the ride is that we decided to turn off the trail every chance we got and rode down nice quiet neighborhoods. We enjoyed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch down the end of one street that led to the water.
I would rate this portion of the trail as poor. Hopefully it gets nicer further south."
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