While Tampa is not exactly winning any awards for being a bike friendly city, there are a handful of decent bike paths throughout the Bay area. Biking is a fun and easy way to motivate yourself to exercise, even more so if there is great scenery and/or attractions to look forward to along the route.
Any cyclist visiting the Tampa Bay region will want to check out the following paths. From waterfront scenery, to relaxing views of native greenery, to easy detours to some of the Florida’s best beaches, here are a few interesting options to consider.
1. Pinellas Trail
Highlight: 50+ miles
This former rail trail is the most renowned bike path in the Bay area and has even won many awards over the years. It has been spotlighted by the Rails to Trails conservatory (in 2012, it was inducted into the rail-trail Hall of Fame) and tends to pop up on various “best of” lists. The trail runs a 50 mile course from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg, linking numerous sights of interest including beaches, parks, and historic Main Streets.
The most scenic tree-lined portion of the path travels about 7 miles from Dunedin to Tarpon Springs. This is the perfect distance for a leisurely weekend ride. From here, you can explore beautiful downtown Dunedin, enjoy a short detour to Honeymoon Island (ranked one of the state’s best beaches), and explore the sponge docks and Greek cuisine in Tarpon, “the sponge capital of the world.”
2. Bayshore Blvd
Highlight: Great views of the Bay
At 4.5 miles of continuous pavement, Bayshore stands (debatably) as the world’s longest sidewalk. This beautiful waterfront path features amazing views of the Tampa skyline. The path is well-maintained with nice landscaping including lush tropical palms. If biking isn’t enough of a workout, you can take your fitness up a notch via the series of fitness stations which line the course.
Easy accessibility to downtown puts you within a stone’s throw of many great restaurants and attractions. Bayshore connects to Riverwalk, a 2+ mile trail which connects various points of interest downtown. Check out Columbia – one of the premier restaurants in the region. Great black bean soup and lots of highly regarded Cuban and Spanish entrees are on the lineup. Plus, they have a great covered patio overlooking the water!
3. Flatwoods Park
Highlight: Flat, paved, uninterrupted trail
Flatwood Park in the New Tampa area is home to a 7 mile loop which is popular with both cyclists and runners. Lined with tall pine flatwoods, this trail is just as scenic as it is great for recreation. Any nature lover should appreciate the greenery and lack of commercialization.
Unfortunately, there is not much shade on this one, so save this one for the cooler fall/winter season. On the plus side, there are several water stations along the route.
Note: there is a 2 mile extension for anyone seeking a longer ride. Also, there is a $2 fee to park your car.
4. Jay B. Starkey bike path
Highlight: Beautiful & peaceful, rustic ambiance
Jay B. Starkey Wilderness park is one of the hidden gems of Tampa Bay. This is a gorgeous place for any type of exercise. Cyclists will be pleased with the 6.5 mile paved trail, which is surrounded on both sides by beautiful greenery. The trail is flat and fast, and so the perfect choice for an easy, laid-back weekend ride. For those looking to extend your ride, the trail connects to the 42 mile long Suncoast trail.
Overall, this is one of the best Tampa bike trail options for the nature lover. Typically, it’s really quiet here and there is little in the way of commercialization. It also happens to be one of the few trails where you may encounter wildlife. If you have the time (and energy!), be sure to check out one of the preserve’s great hiking trails. Any of the 5 nature trails will take you past a variety of diverse habitat including pine flatwoods, swamp, sand and scrub, marshes, and cypress domes.
Note: There is a $2 car parking fee.
5. Fort de Soto bike path
Highlight: Connects to North Beach, frequently rated best beach in the nation
Despite being located just south of the super popular tourist havens of Clearwater & St. Pete, Fort de Soto beaches remain relatively peaceful and secluded in comparison. The park is located on 5 interconnected islands and has received much positive press regardings its’ gorgeous white sand beaches. Beaches aside, there is a little known 7 mile long multi purpose path which is just perfect for biking.
This bike trail stays pretty quiet as tourists usually stick to the sand. If you do want to check out the award winning beaches, the trail conveniently connects to both North and East beach. After you ride fuel up at the snack stand or pack your own lunch and take advantage of the shady picnicking areas.
Note: There is a $5 car parking fee.
6. John S. Taylor Park trail
Highlight: Multi purpose path circles around a pretty lake
This beautiful Pinellas County park features a multi purpose trail, a picturesque lake, a disc golf course, picnic shelters, and playgrounds. The 1.8 mile shell trail winds around a 53 acre lake which is popular with fishermen. The distance is perfect for a few biking or running loops on a mild fall/winter morning. Asides from getting in a wonderful workout, the park is a beautiful destination for birdwatching. Don’t get too close to the lake as alligators frequently make appearances.