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The Legacy Trail has a splendid opening: the Historic Venice Train Depot, a pale sunset orange structure that fits right into the beachy Florida color palette. Situated adjacent to a palm-tree-dotted waterway, the Mediterranean Revival style building dates back to 1927 and was once considered the finest station on the line. Open year-round on Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., the inside houses displays on the Seaboard Air Line Railroad on which the rail-trail was built. The tracks were once used by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and next to the depot stands a bronze statue of circus star Gunther Gebel-Williams, heralded as “The Greatest Wild Animal Trainer of All Time.”
The smooth, paved trail unfurls north from the depot and is an easy ride: level and straight as an arrow for just over 10 miles to the southern outskirts of Sarasota with only a few well-marked street crossings on low-volume roads. The only steep spot comes at the US 41 pedestrian overpass, but shift gears and you’ll make it just fine. Several other smaller bridge crossings over waterways offer picturesque views.
Much of the trail is exposed, but shaded benches with drinking fountains appear nearly every mile, making the experience comfortable. Multiple trailheads with free parking also make the route very customizable with easy opportunities for getting on and off the trail.
About midway, the trail transverses the sprawling Oscar Scherer State Park, which offers ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, including camping, hiking, canoeing and kayaking along South Creek, and fishing and swimming in Lake Osprey.
Like much of the state, nature is close at hand along the trail and you’re likely to see many types of birds, lizards, snakes, tortoises, and rabbits. Watch for the trail’s many interpretive signs to identify and learn more about the regional flora and fauna, as well as signs about the area’s history.
Should you have extra time and energy, explore the 8.6-mile Venetian Waterway Park Trail, which heads south from the Historic Venice Train Depot to Caspersen Beach (perhaps best known for the prehistoric shark teeth that wash up on shore) and then continues back up the other side of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
The Historic Venice Train Depot (303 E. Venice Ave.) at the southern terminus of the trail offers parking, restrooms, and drinking water. From the US 41 Bypass, turn west onto E. Venice Avenue. Just before you reach the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, turn right into the depot parking lot. The depot also serves as a stop for the Sarasota County Area Transit bus system (SCAT).
Six other trailheads, offering additional parking and amenities, are available as you head north on the trail:
Since we've bought our recumbent trikes, we've been to this trail 4 times in 6 weeks. It's asphalt, so no problems for those of you with skinny street tires. Walkers, with or without dogs, are common. Folks are usually friendly and wave or "good morning" as you pass them. A bike repair station and some Portopotties are dispersed along the way. You can also enter the Oscar Scherer state park from the trail.
You cross streets only a couple of times, but, no sweat since there are signals to get the traffic to stop.
Squirrels are common, but we saw an otter on the side of the trail once. What a hoot!
1) Pack a picnic because there are places along the way to stop.
2) On one end is a good sized overpass that spans U.S. 41. Good news is that you can fly coming down, but the bad news is that it can be a test for the knees. More good news- there's a super good bike shop in the shopping center that backs up to it. If you have a mechanical problem, they can fix you up.
3) The Historic Train Depot on one end is a good place to park. Restrooms, water and picnic tables are there.
My sister and I biked the Legacy trail from Sarasota to Venice last Sunday. It was a great, leisurely ride. We started at the Culverhouse Nature Park in Sarasota where there was lots of parking. Very safe area with lots of people. We finished at the Venice train depot and then biked back to Sarasota. There are stretches of trail that are very remote particularly the first five miles. There is a lot more scenic vistas in the last five miles. There is only one water source early in the ride from Sarasota, so take plenty of water. I particularly like the granite markers at each mile as well as the shade shelters. There are a couple of bridges to cross that are very scenic, particularly over Dona Bay. Save your energy because as you get close to Venice, there is a very steep bridge you have to cross and it takes a lot of leg powers. It is 21.5 miles roundtrip from start to finish from Culverhouse Trailhead. There are no convenience stores along the way or near the trailheads that we could see. We were hoping for some stores at the Venice trailhead to get something to eat or drink but no luck. It would be nice if there were some other conveniences easily accessible off the trail. Overall, a very pleasant ride for a couple of hours.
Enjoyed 12 miles of the LT. wish we had time to complete the ride down to Venice. Lots of rest stops with water and lavatories. Found a few geocaches along the way!!
very nice paved trail, some shade and just a few street intersections.
I started at the Venice Train Depot and rode the whole trail up to Culverhouse Nature Park and back...21.4 miles total. It took me about 3 hours because I periodically stopped at several of the stations to rest and stopped at the bridges over Roberts Bay (Curry Creek) and Dona Bay to admire the beauty. It really is an easy way to get a 20 mile ride in with no traffic or hill climbing and you get to enjoy the serene Florida wilderness along the way. The best part is that there are rest stations along the way and some have drinking fountains. There are also several portable bathrooms in case the urge strikes.
Took this trail from Nokomis and connected to the Venetian Waterway and rode all the way to Casperson Beach. What a beautiful ride. I'm not from FL, so I saw a lot of stuff I don't normally see while riding. The trail is very well taken care of, and other riders were very polite and friendly.
Started the trail at the Historic Venice Train Depot after a picnic on the very nice grounds. Once you get over the highway it's a nice easy ride. Busy day, polite riders, even had a "trail assistance" volunteer "policing" the trail. Very friendly. Road out about 7 miles and back, since we had limited time. Bet it's a really hot trail on summer afternoons.
Great ride. Used by a lot of bikers. Plans are to continue north to Sarasota. Hope it happens
Have to agree with previous post. Potter park should not be listed as a trailhead, as there is no access to the trail from this location. Got a nice map from the ymca desk in the park and then biked about a mile to get on the trail. Nice flat / wide / smooth trail, but very limited facilities, not even at the parking place off of McIntosh road.
You don't need to race down this trail, grab a comfortable bike, so not a mtb or race bike and enjoy your ride. Well travelled and lots of fun, great for all ages ¿¿. #sarasotabicycles
Not very much shade cover, completed most of trail mid-afternoon in Aug. Better for early morning or evening. Otherwise, great trail regarding ease and ameties.(acess to shaded rest areas and bathrooms)
biking along about 45 minutes prior to sunset heading south and maybe a mile or so north of Oscar Scherer Park trailhead: noticed a small snake almost off the train; stopped at a safe distance to photograph it: 2.5' eastern diamondback; i didn't bother it and it didn't bother me
got back on my bike and within 20 seconds: a rather large water moccasin/cottonmouth (maybe 3.5'; very thick) came crawling very quickly across the path; I had to slam on my breaks to avoid running over it; didn't have time to photograph him and he wasn't interested anyways
his (her?) speed was quite amazing
a few minutes later: a large tortoise (species unknown; maybe a foot long though) walking right up the path
I yielded as you are supposed to do to all pedestrians on the trail
quite an exciting ride
Well maintained, plenty of amenities along the way and wonderfully done trail heads. Can see natural Florida habitats riding thru the state park.
My husband and I love this trail. We do live in Venice and are very familiar with the area, yet, each time we take the trail, which is often we find off routes that we love to explore. It is the best way to travel from home to the island without the stress of traffic, especially during the busy season. We have a tow along which we use to go do our shopping at the local markets or pick up our little one from school. We not only save on gas and the hassle of traffic, but we give our daughter a nature filled ride home from school. She loves it when we see dolfins jumping pass on the intracoastal waterway, or when we are lucky enough to catch some wild bunnies hiding in the brush. Turtles are very common to see as well. We find that most everyone is courteous on the path and friendly. We see some of the most interesting choices of vehicles at times, and the coolest part is that Real Bikes is right there next to the overpass bridge, to help service bikers passing through and are always there to offer maps and trail directions. We love living in this community and what a treat to have such a great trail in our back yard!! I will say some beautifying of it would be the icing on the cake.
Best and most convenient trailhead is the Venice Train Depot. Plenty of parking with easy access to The Legacy and Venetian Waterway trails. It's also the beginning point for each trail. Train Depot is very easy to find. Enjoy
We also tried to find an entry from Potter Park with no luck, but there are two other entries in that vicinity. There is a parking lot just off Macintosh Road between Central Sarasota Parkway and Clark. There are signs on CSP pointing North at Macintosh and there are signs on Macintosh at the lot. There is also an entry to the Trail on Central Sarasota Pkwy about 1 mile East of Macintosh with flashing lights at the crossing. However, we did not say any convenient place to park there if you don't live in the vicinity.
I agree with Daniel, the trail is hard to find unless you live there or have been to it before. If there are signs they're well hidden. I went to Bay St. Park in Osprey (couple miles north of Oscar Scherer Park where they charge). A guy from the park system told me about this.
The trail itself is pretty nice--smooth, wide paved surface, few riders during the week. What I found difficult was where does this trail end and the Venetian Waterway Trail start? That trail is very hard to follow for a first timer. Somehow they assume everybody is a local, so no need for signs or even arrows.
I'm really reviewing this website, because I never found the trail. I drove 1.5 hours roundtrip to Potter Park in Sarasota. The Legacy trail is not there. It's a nice park with a walking loop trail, but no mention, either in the aerial photo map or signage of the Legacy Trail. Next time I will go to a different access point for Legacy Trail. But really, they should fix this website which distinctly, in its first sentence, says to access Legacy Trail at Potter Park. I'm quite disappointed.
Had a nice ride doing the north 1/2 of the trail. My girlfriend and I chose to turn back due to the clouds stacking up. Thankfully, we made it back to my van 15 minutes before the rain began. It was very pleasant and easy going. She is quite the novice, but enjoying our rides together. We will be back to the Legacy trail again to finish it.
With the bad weather this year (2014) we got away from NE for a few days to visit with friends and
get a few miles on bikes. We stayed at the Hilton
in Venice and rented from Real bikes just the other
side of the 41 bypass. the first day we rode south
to the end and back about 10 miles. after a day off
we biked north about 20 RT. Very nice surface and
rest stops. The pit stops are a little off the trail, but there are many benches and kiosks describing the area. Not having spent much time in
Fla. the trees and such were interesting to us.
The trails might be a little short for some but I found it a good chance to get in a ride in the winter.
A great trail technically...excellent surface, great signage, etc. But if you are looking for scenic views to go along with your ride, this may not be the trail for you. The 10 miles run through scrub forest with minimal viewing opportunities. Wildlife viewing is possible, tho we didnt see much on the day of our ride.
We rode this trail today from beginning in Sarasota to the end at the rail station in Venice. The trail is well maintained and flat, with the exception of 2 bridges. There are several rest stops and a couple of parks with rest rooms. Though busy with cyclists and walkers, it was a quiet and peaceful ride. Very pretty.
We rode this trail in January 2014 from Venice Avenue(Venice Train Depot) north to Palmer Ranch and back. Every 5/100 mile has a distance marker in the center of the trail (circle) to reflect location in case of emergency (911). Great sitting kiosks/benches. Markers describing information of local interest add to the allure. All in all very enjoyable! We will return!
I've done it twice, but one-way from Sarasota (2 cars needed). Easy pedaling all the way, but get a running start to get up the new overpass crossing US 41 in Venice. From the southern terminus at the Venice Train Depot, you can continue south on the Waterway trail, but for a beach trip, either cross over the Venice Ave bridge right next to the depot, or ride south on the Waterway Trail a couple miles to the next bridge (Circus Bridge) and cross to the other Waterway trail on the other side. That one will terminate at the Gulf Of Mexico at Caspersen Beach.
We rode the Legacy Trail on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in the mid afternoon and the traffic on the trail was light (of course, it was off season as well as the hottest time of the day). This is a great trail which is completely paved and has covered stops approximately every two miles (we think). The trail is 10.63 miles one way (despite the description that it is 12 miles). The old Venice train station has ample parking and is the trail head for this trail as well as the trail head for the Venetian Waterway Park trail (just don't ride on the station platform or you will be corrected as we were). There are bathrooms at the trail station but they are only open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We saw one portable bathroom along the way although there is a park along the way with a sign pointing to bathrooms. We look forward to riding this trail again as well as the Venetian Waterway Park trail.
We are recreational cyclists (aka 10mph wearing shorts and a tshirt) and we came over from Palm Beach County last weekend to ride this trail. The trail was fantastic and we will be back again soon. We also rode the waterway trail and probably did about 33 miles total and still didn't explore it all. I can't wait to go back.
This trail is great .... even in the summer although I would recommend starting out early morning! Although it's flat, it provides a nice distance ... especially when you push through to the Waterway trail in Venice. I would HIGHLY recommend stopping at the Legacy Trail General Store which is located in Nokomis on Church St. It's a nice place to sit and rehydrate. The prices are VERY reasonable and the owners / staff VERY nice! Word of caution ... if you do go off the trail, do NOT ride on the grass! The thorns will puncture even the thickest tire tubes on the market. I learned that one the hard way!
I posted a similar review of this trail on TripAdvisor. I can't believe how few people have reviewed it on this site, so chose to do so again here. The local community is very proud of this trail and justifiably so. A friend and I decided to check it out while vacationing in the area. We biked the southern 2/3 of it and really enjoyed the ride. It is relaxing and fairly scenic in many spots, passing over waterways and alongside a few local and state parks, as well as an attractive restored train depot. With a new highway overpass in place in Venice we only encountered 1 busy road crossing, and that one is signal-controlled. We rented hybrid bikes at a shop called Real Bikes on US 41 in Venice, and their back door is directly adjacent to the trail...no need to bike on streets at all here if you don't want to. Highly recommended if you're looking for an active pursuit in SW florida.
I travel a lot and just started bike riding. I take my bike with me when I don't have to fly somewhere. So as I was in Florida I looked online for bike trails and found Legacy trail. I entered through the state park and rode 14 miles (to the bridge construction and back). What a wonderful ride! Very pleasant day and beautiful scenery. Crossed a couple of lakes and saw some wildlife as well. Not too many bikers, walkers, or traffic. Looking forward to riding this trail again.
Great trail cannot wait until the bridge over US 41 in Venice is completed, although 41 is busy in that area there are traffic lights to get you across safely. once the bridge is completed in Sept it will be virtually non stop from Sarasota to the Gulf of Mexico in Venice. On the trail I have safely seen bob cats, armadillos, turtles, snakes and gators
We went on a Monday, so there wasn't very many people. The Laural Park spur was closed for construction until mid July. So we parked at the state park. This trail is very straight and wide, with wildlife and few cross streets. We would do this trail again.
I have ridden several times on this trail. There are many other bikers, dog walkers, roller bladers, etc., but not so many that it gets crowded. There are only a few places where roads have to be crossed, and with the exception of Hwy 41, they all have well marked crosswalks, along with crossing lights. There are a couple of nice bridges (with a great view) you can ride over or fish from. There is currently (as of March 20, 2011) construction being done to clear the path across Hwy 41, which will link the Venice Depot with the rest of the trail. Once this is complete, Legacy Trail will be one of the best in the state.
Love this trail. The pedistrian overpass over Hwy. 41 will be complete mid- September. Then we will have 10.6 miles of Legacy Trail and 4 miles on the Venetianian Waterway Trail to Shamrock Park. It is great to be able to ride all of this with very few road crossings.
I had taken this trail last friday and was really good to have the finished bridges to go on !!! kudos to the county for making this happened. was a hot day but worth the trip. now you can ride really over 20 miles one way on the waterway of Venice to make it really a longer trip. If you plan this, be sure to bring 2 water bottles but you can fill up at stores that are at south end / save-alot/sweetbay/mcdonalds/even a subway shop. get a bite then head over to the train depot to enjoy your lunch!
Love this trail. It will be really great when both trestles are complete. Plenty of wildlife and scenery, with very few traffic crossings. It connects to the Venetian Waterway for even more riding fun! Very little shade in mid-day sun. Bring plenty of water. Happy riding!
I have taken this trail mostly from the north end near the Sarasota Westfield mall to park and bike-ride the trail. I like the ride for all the wild life that I have been seeing going near the State park on the trail such as lots of birds/ turtles/ snakes/ rabbits/ raccoons/ even a cougar cat! Plenty of resting area with sitting benches some with shade. If you take the trail all the way to train depot and still not able to finish the ride back to mall, the bus service is great! only .75 to ride and they are avail about every 30 min. They all have a bike rack to hold only 2 bikes at a time. I have seen lots of people on this trail and it's been very clean and some folks still carry glass bottles, which I have run over broken glass. Take plenty of fluids with you.
Happy trails to you!
The trestles over the Bays, Roberts and Dona, are in the process of being rebuilt and are expected to be completed by July of 2010. The trestle over Roberts Bay is expected to be completed by January 2010. We are all looking forward to the opening of the trestles as we have many cyclists in our area.
Rode this trail on 10/28/2008. Parked at Bay St. Park. From there it is about a mile on fairly quiet Bay St. to the trail. Turning left, the trail extends about 4 miles north toward Sarasota. Turning right, the trail heads south toward Venice. The tail ends abruptly at a waterway about 2 miles short of Venice. Two bridges, which will connect the present trail to Venice, have yet to be built. According to trail signs, the trail, when complete, will be 10.6, not 12.4, miles in length. Today it is about 8.5 miles long. While there are several rest stops, restroom facilities are limited to one portable toilet near the north end. The trail itself: flat, straight, little shade, not particularly senic, but well screened from various developments, and well maintained. I probably won't return until the bridges are complete, which will connect the Legacy Trail to the attractive Venice Waterway Park.
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