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One of Florida's most popular and unique urban pathways, the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail stretches from St. Petersburg north to Tarpon Springs and on to the Pasco County line for a total of 50 miles. Eventually, the Pinellas Trail is planned to expand into a 75-mile loop throughout Pinellas County. Part of that growing effort is the 4-mile Duke Energy Trail on the east side of the peninsula.
Opened in 1996, the Pinellas Trail connects some of the most highly urbanized areas of the county with parks, scenic coastal areas and residential neighborhoods, making it an important facility for both transportation and health on Florida’s west coast. The pathway is named after Fred Marquis, a former Pinellas County administrator whose efforts supported its early development.
In 2007, the Pinellas Trail was inducted into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame and its importance and impact continue to grow as it is not only part of the 75-mile loop project, but also plays a role in the Florida Coast-To-Coast Trail, a developing 250-mile route across the state from the Gulf of Mexico on its west side to the Atlantic Ocean on its east end.
From St. Petersburg, the first 15 miles of the Pinellas Trail includes crossings of dozens of pedestrian bridges with sweeping views of the urban landscape. The most scenic of these is the 0.25-mile Cross Bayou Bridge, which spans Boca Ciega Bay.
Farther north lie the towns of Largo, Clearwater and Dunedin. In downtown Clearwater, the trail merges with wide sidewalks and a newly resurfaced bicycle boulevard. Use caution through here because the trail crosses roads with heavy traffic. Dunedin offers a particularly pleasant scene, with shops, restaurants, public restrooms and parking. The Gulf of Mexico is just two blocks away, worth the brief detour for lovely coastal scenery.
In the quiet township of Palm Harbor pause on the Bayshore Boulevard pedestrian bridge at Mile Marker 29 for more Gulf scenery. From Tarpon Springs' quaint business district, the trail continues under US 19 to Keystone Road (CR 582) at Melon Street. From there, it follows Keystone Road east.
At E. Lake Road S., the trail splits. One branch turns south, paralleling E. Lake Road S. for 4.3 miles to John Chesnut Sr. Park, where there are nature trails and a lookout tower offering views over Lake Tarpon. The other forks east along Keystone Road, then turns north, ending at the Pasco County line.
On the south end of the Pinellas Trail in St. Petersburg, parking is available along 1st Avenue on the south side of Pioneer Park. On the north end of the trail in Palm Harbor, the John Chesnut Sr. Park (2200 E. Lake Road S., Palm Harbor) provides plentiful parking as well. In between, there are many other parks along the route that provide additional parking options. For a trail guide and detailed map of access points and parking, visit Guide to the Pinellas Trail online.
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