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The Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail is the first paved rail-trail developed by the state, and it follows the route of Florida's first and longest-operating railroad that was used primarily to transport cotton from plantations to awaiting ships. Today adventure awaits, as the rail-trail—plus side trails and nearby state parks—stand ready for exploration.
As its name implies, the trail stretches about 20.5 miles from the capital city south to St. Marks. Longleaf pine and forests of oak, wax myrtle and yaupon holly nicely shade the route.
Start at the Capital Circle Trailhead. Heading north for 4.5 miles takes you within several blocks of Florida State University and the Stadium Drive Bikepath—frequently used by students to access the University. There are no significant facilities on this section, but it is urban in nature and has businesses located adjacent to the trail.
The first few miles south of this trailhead can be a bit congested, particularly on the weekends. Just remember proper trail etiquette and have a good time. If you are riding a mountain bike, consider turning into the Munson Hills Off-Road Trail, off the trail about 1 mile (mileage is painted on the asphalt) from the Capital Circle Trailhead. The loop system can get sandy during dry months, but the scenic areas and remote terrain make it worth a visit.
Wakulla Station Trailhead, near mile marker 9, provides water, shelter and restrooms. A bit farther south you can take a 5-mile detour along the paved shoulder of State Route 267 to get to Wakulla Springs State Park, known for its big, beautiful spring and a refreshing swimming hole.
With only 6 or so miles of trail remaining, you will soon find yourself in St. Marks. Another state park, San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, is to the south and west of the trail's end. Or simply hit one of the small waterfront restaurants to wet your whistle and carb-load with friends while watching the boats cruise along the St. Marks River.
The Capital Circle Trailhead is located on the west side of State Route 363 (Woodville Highway) in Tallahassee, just south of Capital Circle (SR 263). The address of the trailhead is 4778 Woodville Highway.
Trail access and parking is also available at Woodville Sports Complex on the west side of the trail. Follow the brown directional signs from SR 363 (Woodville Highway) south to the complex.
Wakulla Station Trailhead is located on the west side of the trail off SR 363 (Woodville Highway) just south of the Leon and Wakulla county line. Follow the brown directional signs to the trailhead.
We parked at the Capital Circle Trailhead, where there are bathrooms, a water fountain, a pavilion, and a nice bench area.
Heading south, the trail is wide and smooth, with trees on either side, providing shade but not much "tree debris". The section along the Woodville Highway has a lot of road noise, but further down the trail, it runs along a less busy road and the noise drops off. The trail runs past older residences, and a few businesses. We turned around after 7 miles, but will definitely come back to explore the rest of the southern section another day.
Heading north from the Capital Circle Trailhead, the trail is obviously older, with a yellow center line. This section has few trees, and runs by businesses such as used car lots, and is not very scenic. The trail ends at a street, across from a working train yard.
This trail is a treasure to the region, and we look forward to returning again.
We loved this trail. We rode it mid-day in July and were able to keep a decent pace because of the abundance of shade. Bring your drinks and snacks because there aren't stores on the first 10 miles. We will be back to ride the whole trail when time permits.
all cleared w/i 48 hours of major storm debris. we see the same folks often. 32 miles from Woodville head to St Marks r/t.
Thick forest shades virtually all 20 miles, making a cool green tunnel from Gamble & Stearns Streets in Tallahassee to a waterfront park in St. Marks. The trail is wide and smooth, with occasional restrooms and benches along the rural stretches. No parking lot at Gamble & Stearns, but plenty of room for unloading beside the adjacent street. The trail follows a former rail line that carried cotton bales to the docks at St. Marks for export. Near the southern terminus, ruins of Spanish masonry lie beside traces of Confederate earthworks at the San Marcos de Apalache historic park.
If you find yourself on bike-laned Crawfordville Road, you probably missed the sharp jog to the northeast on the south side of Ridge Road. Here the trail follows Ridge Road/Gaile Avenue for a block before continuing south-southeast along Woodville Highway. There's no signage to mark the jog, at least when going south.
I started the trail from the St. Marks end, because there doesn't seem to be very good parking at the Tallahassee end. St Marks is a bit of a resort town, and there are lots of bars and restaurants to cool off at after the trip.
There are covered rest benches every few miles, and quite a few bathroom and water stops as well. If you want to skate, you're probably most interested in the surface. It was very smooth and well maintained. Additionally, where the trail crosses a dirt road, the dirt road is paved back several feet on either side to keep vehicles from tracking dirt and gravel onto the trail.
All the crossings are well marked, and most of them are back roads, or private roads. There are a couple of big streets to cross, but the traffic is not bad, and crossing is easy.
Some highlights here:
As we were unfamiliar with street names (not being locals), we did not realize that Capitol Circle was a street. It would have been helpful if we had known this. We had no real "address" to put into our GPS. The street address of the main trailhead adjacent to Capitol Circle is 4778 Woodville Highway. Nice, flat paved trail, but average scenery.
Rode the southernmost sixteen miles to St. Marks. The rest was too urban for my liking.
Although there were quite a few road crossings, there wasn't much traffic to worry about. Enjoyed the out and back immensely.
Nice wide path. Well paved and maintained. I hopped on the trail at the parking lot next to the ball fields and ran North about 4 miles and then back. Some areas of this section cut through a small residential (low income) area but I felt safe enough. Watch out for pine cones and branches if its been windy or you might twist an ankle. I look forward to exploring more of this stretch of trail.
This is a great trail! Very well maintained with well maintained and clean restrooms along the way. We will be back to ride this trail again.
I started out on Wednesday morning from St Marks at a beginning temperature of 35! I was well insulated so no bother. Very enjoyable but straight as an arrow ride. I reached the Main Trailhead at Capital Circle and the trail took me across Capital Circle a ways then I ended up on a sidewalk. I rode back to a Subway in a gas station at Capital Circle and the girl said not to ride north of Main Trailhead "or you will get shot". The map here takes you on into Tallahassee so not sure where they intend on bikers to ride other than the sidewalk or bike lanes on pavement. I see now from a regular google map that I missed the big zigzag at Gaile Avenue. Makes for something new in a subsequent ride. I will return. I love the ride thru what I felt was old Florida. Temp was 58 on my return to St Marks TH.
This 15.62 each-each way path is mostly under shady canopy. Benches every couple miles; bathrooms every 4 or so, with the midpoint park with restrooms, kids play area, several well covered picnic table areas. At the end are several cute food/bar areas to eat at the water's edge. This 32 mile round trip is so fun. Well maintained. We wave to the city workers who blow the path clean every week. I can't think of any path better. You go through safe but modest housing areas, but a significant part is surrounded by field or woods. We had a fox run along the horse path beside us and finally crossed in front and away into the woods. Such a cool plays to burn calories while having fun alone or with loved ones.
This was my first rail-trail when I rode it back in 2008 and I fell in love immediately! I continue to ride whenever I get the chance; including today. It is smooth, clean and has several rest benches, nice trailhead at Wakulla, and even potty stops along the way too. The trail is well marked and not overcrowded. It is WELL worth checking out!
Our trip started on a beautiful,crisp morning,ending up in the warm 80 degree temps in St. Marks in the early afternoon. Paved all the way,which my wife REALLY prefers,with good facilities along the path and we loved the fishing village of St. Mark's that awaited us at the southern terminal of this wonderful trail! We started at St. Mark's the next day and went north into Tallahassee and was just a repeat of the weather and scenic ride of the day before. Both days were great trips and on second day we rode out to the old San Marcos De Apalache fort and state park. We both love history and this was just an added bonus.
This was one of our favourite leisure trips and we will be back to do some exploring around the area. There are paths all around Leon County and Wakulla county that still need to be explored by us and our "trusty steeds" of the two wheel kind! Thank you RTC for having the books and online resources for those of us who love the trails. Mikey Bikey-(Mike Whitfield)
Great trail. Easy riding. Well worth the round-trip ride from St. Marks to Tallahassee.
In addition one of the Great trail side burgers awaits where US 98 crosses the trail across from the St. Mark's Powder plant.
Bingo Burgers are a pile of good eating about four inches high and three inches around. The stack contains 2 - 1/3 pound patties of Angus beef cooked to your order, with cheese melted over one and garnished with fresh fried bacon, deli ham, mustard, ketchup, bread and butter pickles, lettuce, and onions all captured in a bakery bun. Vegan's need not apply. The combo Bingo comes with fries or delicious home battered onion rings and a cold soft drink or sweetea.
Also on the menu, buffalo shrimp (or plain old fried ) that are hard to resist after a good few miles in the saddle.
And there are lots of other selections that we were way too full to contemplate trying. All the food comes out of a converted carry all trailer, hot and fresh. the proprietress is pleasant and understandable and a good ambassador for other area attractions and eateries.
Two (well slathered with condominents and onion ring juice) thumbs up!!!
We recently rode the trail for a total round trip of 24 miles. However, the trail is under construction starting at the Tallahassee trail head, so we were a bit disappointed that we had to drive south for about seven to eight miles (definitely more than the 5 miles listed on the sign!) to find the second trail head/ parking area. The sign posted told us that the anticipated opening date for the portion of the trail that is under construction would be July 2011.
The trail is very smooth and has plenty of rest room facilities. There are several restaurants at the end of the trail at St. Marks, none of which we were really favorably impressed. We decided to check out the little general store, but were disappointed with our visit there. We ended up eating chips and snacking on the things we had carried on our bikes. Maybe we didn't explore enought, but we would definitely pack a lunch the next time.
We departed from the north terminus relatively early in the morning, and there was plenty of parking, depsite all the folks running and riding the first few miles of the trail. There path does start about 3 miles to the north, but the parking is sketchy at best at that location. The northern terminus of the trail sits just to the south of the city on Rte 363. There are also bathrooms and historical placards to get you up to speed on the importance of the Tallahassee- St Marks railway line. For the first few mile markers, you can slightly hear the traffic from the road running next to the trail.
Around mile marker 7, the traffic thinned out, and we had the trail to ourselves. The whole trail was well shaded and very well maintained.
There is one kicker: trail maintenance is still in effect. For you speedy road biker types: so sad. You'll have to jump on the road with the cars around mile marker 10 to continue on to St Marks. For you mountain bikers and hybrid owners, no sweat. It's still flat and fast, it's just sandy now. Nothing about this trail is remotely technical, but there is a horse path off to the side that might offer a break in the monotony, if you're so inclined. Trail maintenance is expected to be complete in December, but that shouldn't stop you from riding it anyway! The final two (or so) miles of the trail before the southern terminus is freshly paved!
The reason to ride the whole 15.7 miles to St Marks is snackage. Between Smokey's Oyster Bar and Grill and the Riverside Bay Cafe, there is plenty to eat and drink. There is also some cool Civil War ruins at San Marcos de Apalache State Park just down the road from the southern terminus of the trail. Just remember, when you eat and have a couple beers, you have to ride back at some point.
We had such a great time when we biked the northern part of the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail with our 8-year old grandson, Mick, in mid-July while he was visiting us from Lake Tahoe.
Seeing live alligators was #1 on Mick’s Florida list, so we took the boat ride at Wakulla Spring first (not to missed!). Then around noon, drove to the Wakulla Station Trailhead, north of 267. (The southbound part of the trail into St. Marks is getting a major overhaul and is closed.) It was a little difficult to find the Wakulla Station Trailhead becuz we weren’t familiar with the area at all. It’s nothing “official” looking, just a parking lot next to a playground, on the left.
The trail is a straight, flat and beautiful tree-covered trail all the way into Tallahassee -- 18 miles RT! After jumping on the trail, Mick was so comfortable riding the trail that he took off like a jackrabbit, leading the way! We had to warn him several times to look both ways before streets and driveways, which crossed the trail. It was pretty hot, so we stopped several times to drink from our water bottles, but no complaints from Mick!
The Tallahassee Trailhead has bathrooms and interesting signs telling the history of the trail. However, we needed somewhere to eat closely. Other riders told us we were out of luck. This was a huge disappointment for Mick, as he was looking forward to the ice cream that Oma promised! But, he was a good sport and after wetting our heads with cold water from the water fountain and filling our water bottles, we started back. Mick commented several times that the 9 miles back to the SUV was much faster!
After loading up the bikes, using a previous rider’s review, we drove south on 30 to the Riverside Café in St. Marks. Mick loved his ice cold Root Beer and the food was delicious! A great way to end our latest biking adventure!
Word from the City of St. Marks is that the trail is scheduled to be completed July 1st. The last 6 miles from St. Marks to Hwy. 267 is still being worked on. The trail has been widened and resurfaced and should be pretty nice to use - I plan on checking it out when complete. I use it as often as possible and enjoy it every time!
We would like to welcome everyone to St. Marks and hope you enjoy your visit to this historic fishing village.
Patricia, Innkeeper :-)
Sweet Magnolia B & B Inn
St. Marks, FL 32355
The St. Mark's Trail is closed from it's southern terminus in St. Mark's to about the 7-mile mark. According to the waitress at the Riverside Cafe in St. Mark's (a GREAT place to eat, by the way) the trail's been closed for about a week. She had no idea what kind of construction was going on or when the full trail would reopen.
This was a big disappointment for my wife and I who made the 2-1/2 hour drive from our home in Alabama to enjoy riding this trail. I hope it reopens, soon.
I rode this trail today and got lost. At Gaile Street, I saw a sign that said trail ended. I saw a bike lane across the street and I took that. I ended up several miles down on Route 319. Luckily my husband was sagging and we finally got hooked up. He took me to the trail head on 363 and I rode to St. Marks. It was a very nice trail once I found it.
Rode the trail, a week ago, with my son-in-law, from St. Marks north into Tallahassee. My daughter and wife went south to the beach while we rode. The trail, while not perfectly smooth in places, is very good. It was warm, but with the trail being shaded a lot of the time, we did well. Even the extension into Tallahassee was good. I've never seen bike activated stop light controls before! We ate in St. Marks at the Riverside and it was a good time, too.
Didn't get to see any cotton headed rattle mocassins, though. Bummer!
My only complaint was the little carniverous bugs that attacked us at St. Marks when we got back from riding. We could hardly see them but I'm still scratching. I don't know what they were - we don't have them in Ohio.
Finding the trailhead in Tallahassee was easy. A comfort station (clean!) is also available about half-way to St. Marks; a new playground is under construction there. The fort was closed, but we were able to walk around the grounds and eat lunch on the picnic table. A canopy of trees along the trail helped keep us cool. It happened to be a perfectly beautiful day with temps in the 70's.
"I use to run on this trail. I would only run 1.5 miles down, and then back. I like the mile markers.
I will say that quite often I did not feel safe...being a single female. Maybe because it is in a rural area. I stayed on the beginning part of the trail, along the road. So there were cars. I tried to bring a long a frined too. However, I was always too scared to ride my bike any good distance alone on it.
I am not saying it is unsafe for any reason...I just felt a bit uncertainat times!"
"What a great ride! The surface may show some wear and tear, but nothing to take away from this lovely and interesting ride."
"Posey's was the only place I knew of where I could line up with the boys to pee in an ice trough. (Well, OK the old Fulton County Stadium but they didn't have ice) If you've never been then sadly you'll never know the experience 'cause it's gone the wind and the water. Still standing but destroyed.
Don't let that loss deter you from riding the trail. There are other places to eat on the water and the fort is a great place to explore and learn a little history.
Didn't see any snakes rollerblading, though. Will keep my eyes peeled next time."
"In fact, there is a very rare bread of cottonmouth that is proficient at the both rollerblading and, strangely, BASE jumping...so be cautious if you're ever parachuting off a bridge!"
I'm no snake expert but I don't think moccasins can rollerblade.
"I second all the remarks about the trail, food, and attractions of the village. I often ride this trail on Sunday mornings. It takes me about 70 minutes (not a very fast pace, but my bike's motor is almost 60 years old) to get to St. Marks, where I arrive before 11 to have a very good breakfast at the Riverside Cafe overlooking the St. Marks River. Pelicans and sometimes otters entertain diners there.
The various road crossings, and especially the park about 6-7 miles north of St. Marks, permit rides of various lengths. After breakfast, a ride around St. Marks and a leisurely return ride to Tallahassee end a great day in the outdoors. I once passed a juvenile cottonmouth rollerblading this trail, so vigilance and caution are appropriate.
I have also encountered deer crossing the trail as well as the abundant and more domestic ""wildlife."" Another nearby cycling opportunity is the St. Marks Wildlife refuge and lighthouse which offers both the paved road to the lighthouse and unpaved levee roads around the ponds."
"We rode the trail on Monday, December 13. The weather was perfect and it was a delightful ride. We especially enjoyed visiting St. Marks and having lunch at the Riverside Cafe. "
"We rode from St. Marks to Tallahassee and back to St. Mark's for lunch. Unfortunately the trail extension into Tallahassee leaves you on a busy residential street with nothing around it. On the other end, St. Mark's is interesting with a good restaurant (Posey's, with a good smoked mullet).
The trail has tree roots coming through in some places and is in need of resurfacing."
"The trail closely parallels roads pretty much throughout, and the scenery is not particularly attractive. Although very bikeable, repaving will be necessary in the not too distant future. The neat thing about this trail is that it, unlike so many trails, has an interesting destination at the end: St. Marks, with lots to see, eat, and do. "
"We rode this trail today from Tallahassee to St. Marks. All in all it is a super trail. There are a few road crossings where you need to be cautious, especially the one at Wakulla at SR 365 and again US 98. Also be careful of some small holes in the asphalt. The majority of them were clearly circled with white paint. The last few miles of this trail are designated as a segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail and are beautiful, the trail actually winds around a bit. At the end of the trail less than 1/2 mi. West is the San Marcos de Apalache State Historical Site. If you happen to have brought lunch with you, there are some real nice shady trees to enjoy. We may do that next time. Today we ate at a great little place in St. Marks called The Riverside Cafe. The menu was quite varied and extremely reasonable, I had a killer Grilled Chicken Sandwich with melted Swiss Cheese and Bacon. It is a perfect halfway rest spot. This is a ""Must Do"" if you are in the area."
"Be sure to explore the village of St. Marks at the southern terminus. The historical site with the remains of an old spanish fort at the confluence of the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers should not be missed. Also, you haven't 'done' the trail until you've visited Posey Oyster Bar."
"We stayed at the old hotel at Wakulla Springs state park, rode on-road to the trail, then took the trail to St. Marks, where we ate and drank too much at a wonderful resturant located right at the trail's terminus. It is a fine trail.
One quirk: we rode early in the morning in spring. Many snakes were sunning themselves on the trail's warm asphalt. Most were harmless. One, however, was a rattler. I imagine that this is a seasonal issue, and that one does not encounter snakes when it is warmer or colder. "
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