Bike & Hike / Florida Keys / Southeast Florida

South Florida bike trails: Eleven of our favorites


From the Keys to Lake Okeechobee,  here are the best South Florida bike trails.

South Florida bike trails: The Old Seven Mile Bridge

A favorite: Biking the Old Seven Mile Bridge

South Florida bike trails SHOULD be the best in the country. With year-round biking weather, plenty of natural beauty and a flat terrain that makes bicycling easy, the region should be bicyclist heaven.

Sadly,  you have to search hard for good bike trails in South Florida; the region is just too over-developed with roads and buildings.

I’ve been tracking down bike trails in South Florida for the last 30 years, however, and while the number of trails is limited, some of them are as scenic, historic and downright fun as you can find. They’re good for visitors to South Florida, who can rent bikes at many locations, and some are safe enough for families.

For years, my husband and I have strapped our bikes to our car and headed out on weekends to explore South Florida by bike. We are recreational bicyclists, not athletes or 50-milers. The ideal bike ride for me is somewhere between 5 and 15 miles long. I like trails that eliminate the worries and dangers of vehicles, and I like to bicycle places where there is scenery to enjoy, maybe stops to make along the way.

My favorite spots range from the Keys to the Everglades and include trails through wild areas as well as historic communities we’ve enjoyed exploring.

Here’s my list of best South Florida bike trails:

1. Shark Valley loop in Everglades National Park

South Florida Bike Trails: Alligator at Shark Valley, Everglades National Park

Gators like this along the path are common sights in winter.

I think the best bike trail in all South Florida is Shark Valley. Shark Valley, the entrance to Everglades National Park off the Tamiami Trail directly west of Miami, is such a reliably wonderful outing that it’s one of my favorite places to take visitors. It has a smooth 15-mile paved loop trail through Everglades National Park with no traffic. It’s 20 feet wide and after the first mile, you’ll have it largely to yourself. (A tram travels the same road, but it will pass you three or four times in an afternoon’s ride.) I’ve written about the Shark Valley trail before and you’ll find the details here.

Who will most enjoy this bike trail? If you’re a visitor to South Florida, this is an ideal introduction to the Everglades and you can rent bikes right there. It also lends itself to families because of the lack of traffic. Even long-distance bicyclists will like it because of its length and quality of the trail. (The faster you go, though, the fewer animals you’ll see.)

2. The Lake Trail in Palm Beach

South Florida bike trails: Lake Trail in Palm Beach, Florida

The Lake Trail in Palm Beach is good for peeking into the backyards of millionaires.

The Lake Trail in Palm Beach is a 5-mile paved bike path away from traffic through the backyards of millionaires. The trail runs between magnificent mansions and their private docks on the Intracoastal with postcard-like scenery. You pass a few historic buildings and get glimpses into exclusive backyards. Here are details about the Lake Trail in Palm Beach.

Who will most enjoy this bike trail? This should appeal to visitors who want to gawk at Palm Beach mansions and there is a bike shop nearby where you can rent bikes. It’s good for families because of the lack of traffic. And it’s an ideal bike ride for folks who want to pair it with a visit to the Henry Flagler Museum (Whitehall)  or lunch in Palm Beach.

3. Old Cutler Trail in Miami

The Old Cutler Trail in Coral Gables takes you through some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the Miami area. The trail that doubles as the sidewalk along Old Cutler is not very wide and sometimes is rippled with tree roots or studded with obstacles. It needs maintenance. But it travels under a magnificent ficus tree canopy and passes parks and gardens for its 11-mile length.

One stop along the way is Matheson Hammock Park, a local treasure, which has a fabulous view of Miami’s skyline, a man-made atoll pool for swimming, plenty of shade and a marina. Inside the park is Red Fish Grill, a seafood restaurant in an historic coral rock building. You can extend your ride by biking the roads within the park. Nearby Fairchild Tropical Garden, which includes a rainforest and exotic plants from around the world, does not allow you to bicycle within its grounds.

A good place to start is the traffic circle where Old Cutler Road, Sunset Road, and LeJeune Road meet. Here’s a good PDF map of the trail.

Who will most enjoy this bike trail? If you go for speed or distance, this isn’t for you: There are too many obstacles. This path would be good for families, particularly paired with exploring Matheson Hammock Park, and for leisurely explorers.

4. Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and the Old Seven Mile Bridge

Florida Keys: Old Seven Mile Bridge is a great bike trail

How many shades of blue? The Old Seven Mile Bridge

It’s hard to beat the scenery on the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and, especially, the Old Seven Mile Bridge. Someday, the trail along the Overseas Highway will be completed and allow you to bicycle safely 106 miles through the Florida Keys. Several segments totaling 70 miles are completed now. Here’s a PDF of the trail.

There are still issues with these bike trails. When you get to some bridges, for example, the trail disappears and you’re suddenly driving amidst scary traffic. You’ll have to cross the highway a couple of times. So study the maps, plan your outing and don’t let the scenery distract you from vigilance.

Our best experience bicycling in the Keys has been pedaling onto the historic Seven Mile Bridge, a trip I describe here. The Old Seven Mile Bridge is not only spectacularly scenic, it also brings you as close as you can to experiencing Henry Flagler’s historic “railroad that went to sea.” The bridge, an engineering marvel of its day, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Since the bridge is only 2.2 miles long, I recommend you also bicycle north, where the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail extends for 11 miles to Mile Marker 58. It’s also fun to leave the trail and explore the neighborhoods in Marathon, just south of the trail, where you’ll discover one of my favorite tiki bars in the Keys, Burdines.

Other sections of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail: Distance riders may like the Key Largo section of the trail. It’s less scenic (it goes along the road with only occasional water views) but, at 18 miles, is the longest segment.   The short 3-mile segment between Whale Harbor Channel and Tea Table Relief Channel has exceptional water views.

Who will most enjoy this bike trail? Visitors to Florida will enjoy the scenery and history and you can rent bikes in Marathon here  and here. The Seven Mile Bridge portion would work for families.

5. Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys

Key deer approach bike, No Name Key, Forida Keys

A not so shy Key deer approaches me on my bike.

A second great place to bicycle in the Keys is in Big Pine Key at Mile Marker 30.  Big Pine Key is a large (for the Keys) residential community and it’s home to the tiny endangered Key deer.  One-third of Big Pine Key is controlled by Fish and Wildlife Service to the benefit of the Key Deer.   There’s a wide sidewalk/bike trail that runs parallel to the main road and the side roads have little traffic.

From US 1, turn north onto Key Deer Boulevard. After 2 miles, note the sign on the right for the Blue Hole, a scenic spot in the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.  The Blue Hole is a former rock quarry and, as the only freshwater lake in the Keys, attracts wildlife including gators and deer.

I recommend you also head north on Watson Boulevard to No Name Key. You’ll pass the must-visit No Name Pub on your way to the minimally developed No Name Key, where Key deer are easily spotted at dawn and dusk. Here’s a report on our experience biking on No Name Key.

Who will most enjoy this bike route? This is for riders who want to explore without a trail and don’t mind watching out for a little residential traffic. Bringing kids along would work if you park at the bridge to No Name Key, because there is almost no traffic on that wild island, which is primarily a Key deer preserve. You can rent bikes at Big Pine Bicycle Center, 31 County Road, Big Pine Key, 305-872-0130.

6. Key Biscayne

Key Biscayne has several bicycle trails, and they can be combined for rides of various lengths. There are two paved bike trails — one in each of its terrific parks, Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. But to travel between them does require mixing it up a bit with village traffic.

If you start in Crandon Park, the marina makes a good free parking spot. If you head north from Crandon Park (leaving Key Biscayne toward Miami), there is a paved bike trail on Virginia Key, but only after you’ve ridden across the Bear Cut Bridge, where you’re in an on-street bike lane.

If you start at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park,  you can put together a loop using a 1.5 mile paved bike path and unpaved service roads.  Some paths will take you beneath the trees, and others offer views of Biscayne Bay.

Miami-Dade has a good map that will help you plan a route on Key Biscayne.

Who will most enjoy this bike trail? The scenery is outstanding and cyclists who want to explore and admire the views will be happiest.  Families will be fine in the trails within either park, but probably don’t want to head onto the nearby streets.   You’ll enjoy this  most if you combine it with other explorations — go up in the lighthouse in Bill Baggs State Park; take a walk on the lovely beaches. Visitors can rent bicycles in the village.

7. Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST)

South Florida bike trails: Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

The path is flat, smooth and wide on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.

Lake Okeechobee is ringed with a 110-mile long hiking/biking trail worthy of an expedition — the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, or LOST for short. About 45 miles of the trail is paved and suitable for skinny-tire bikes.   Located high on the 35-foot-tall Herbert Hoover Dike, the trail gives you a big view of sugar fields, wetlands and, in some places, the lake. In winter, you’re sure to see herons and egrets and wintering waterfowl. Armadillos, turtles, snakes and vultures are common sights.

The negatives: There is no shade, you can be exposed to strong winds and the scenery can get monotonous. ( I have biked and hiked the dike and never managed to actually SEE Lake Okeechobee. I knows it’s there, but if  you’re on the west side, all you see is marshland.)

The positives:  Solitude. Access points to the dike are far apart and you can go miles without seeing anyone. Some folks who have biked it say the 15-mile Clewiston to Moore Haven segment is the prettiest. The best views of the big lake are on the east and north side.

There are a variety of entrance points marked on the LOST trail map. The trail is open year round for a variety of uses including hiking, bicycling, birdwatching, fishing, and photography. Hunting is not permitted on any section of the trail.

If you’re a more serious longer-distance rider, you might want to look at this excellent information from palmbeachbiketours.com. This site has a useful unofficial map.  There are 13 camping areas available.

Who will most enjoy this bike trail?   Here’s one for folks who want to ride for miles and miles.  While it’s safe for families, the lack of restrooms and the possibly monotonous scenery should be considered.

8. Hollywood Broadwalk

Florida bike trails: Hollywood Beach bike trail along the ocean via the Broadwalk

Hollywood Broadwalk: A slow-paced and scenic bike ride.

If you’re patient, the Hollywood Broadwalk can be a delightful ride. The Broadwalk is only 2.5 miles long — but the funky Florida feel is a throwback to another era.  Mom and pop cafes and shops line one side and the spectacular beach lines the other.  To extend your ride, you can continue several miles north along a seagrape-lined route through North Beach Park and then onto a narrow Surf Road.

The big negative on the Broadwalk is that children and pedestrians are constantly wandering into the bike lane. So this is a trail made for sight-seeing and patience.

There is metered parking at Hollywood North Beach Park at the intersection of Sheridan Road and A1A. We like to start a few blocks west of there at Ann Kolb Nature Center,751 Sheridan St., Hollywood, where parking is free. Here’s more info.

Who will most enjoy this bike trail? This is a good family bike trail.  It also pairs well with a day at the beach or a slice of pizza and a beer at a beachfront cafe

 

9. Riverbend Park in Jupiter

South Florida biking trails: A family biking at Riverbend park in Jupiter.

Riverbend Park is popular with families.

The 680 acre park is criss-crossed with hard-packed shell trails designed to be shared by hikers and bicyclists.

The longest stretch for a cyclist who just wants to pedal through the woods is a 1.5 mile section, but with 10 miles of trails, we managed to spend a nice afternoon riding and exploring.  The trails are all scenic, with many passing through shady woods and all of them providing vistas across marshes, ponds and rivers.  Here’s a detailed Florida Rambler article about biking at Riverbend Park.

Who will most enjoy this bike trail?   We saw many families bicycling, and the short loops and wildlife seemed ideal for kids.  Anyone looking for speed or distance will be frustrated.

 

10. Beach Road on Jupiter Island

Biking Jupiter Island: Bike route along Bridge Road

Bridge Road on Jupiter Island

Jupiter Island offers a scenic two-lane beachfront road with well-kept landscaping, very little traffic and excellent biking. It goes on for 10 miles past the estates of the rich and famous — folks that include Tiger Woods, Celine Dion and Alan Jackson.  Bicyclists are not on a separate trail or lane, but the barrier island has little commercial or multifamily development, so few vehicles are on the road.  Here’s a detailed report on bicycling Jupiter Island.

Who will most enjoy this bike trail?  This is a route that has something for everyone. Hard-core riders can get up to 30 miles per hour and many avid cyclists include this in 40-mile loops.  At the other end of the spectrum, families can park at a Hobe Beach Martin County Park at the northern end of the island and ride a 6-mile round trip on a dead-end two-lane road that ends at the spectacular wild beach, Hobe Sound Wildlife Refuge, which is well worth exploring.

11. A1A along the beach in Boca Raton

Bike lane along A1A in Boca Raton occasionally gets a stunning view of the ocean.

Bike lane along A1A in Boca Raton occasionally gets a stunning view of the ocean.

Like everyone else, we love bicycling by the beach, and most of A1A through Broward and Palm Beach has dedicated bike lanes. This is the favored route for bicyclists who want to ride 50 miles on a Sunday morning. The problem with the Broward section is a combination of heavy traffic and, in Fort Lauderdale, a line of parked cars adjacent to the bike lane, where driver doors may fly open without warning.

Bike lane on A1A in Boca Raton

Bike lane on A1A in Boca Raton

The best option is the beautiful five or six miles in Boca Raton, where there is a bike lane on the each side of the road plus a paved recreational path for joggers, skaters and walkers on the west side of the road. Speedy cyclists in Lycra zip along the bike lane; recreational bikers with kids can use the path.

The view is often of high rise condos, but along the way there are some stunning ocean vistas and beautiful vegetation. There are also outstanding recreational options. We stopped at Red Reef Park in Boca (a great snorkeling spot, by the way) and walked along the trail at the top of the dunes along the beach. We also stopped at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and walked through their butterfly garden, which unlike so many others we have visited, was full of butterflies. (With a $5 admission charge, this is a great place to explore, especially the outdoor aquarium tanks.)

More South Florida bike trails:

John Prince Park, in Lake Worth.  The 5.5 miles of trails in this urban park follow the scenic shores of Lake Osborne. Riders will enjoy banyan and flowering trees and spot wading birds and turtles. This is a good ride for a family.

Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach. The 8-mile walking and bike trail winds through the park, following the shores of lakes and passing ball fields and picnic grounds. This is a family-friendly trail.

The Everglades levee trail leaving from Markham Park. This trail is a challenge, not the leisurely scenic ride I favor.  It runs along the Everglades, which offers great views, but it parallels I-595, which brings the drone of traffic and the view of an expressway. This is a safe trail for families.

Pompano Beach Airpark Bike Path.  Here’s a bike trail with a completely different view: a blimp barn. This 4.5 mile paved loop trail crosses few streets and passes a golf course and air field.  The largest structure you’ll see at the airfield is home to the Goodyear Blimp. The bike trail loop follows U.S. 1 to Northeast 10th Street to Dixie Highway to Copans Road back to U.S. 1.  Park next to the dog park on Federal Highway. (From Federal, go west on Northeast 10th  Street and take an immediate right into the parking lot.  From Federal, just follow the sign for Galuppi’s, a good place, by the way, for lunch.)   At the western end of the bike path, look or a stately old home across the street and pause to admire it. It’s the 1916 Sample-MacDougald house, 450 NE 10th Ave. , which was moved to this site and beautifully restored.

Neighborhoods that are good to explore by bike

Sometimes we just take our bikes to shady old neighborhood and ride around.  (We’ve long since used up our own neighborhood!)  Our favorite recent rides:

The old Rio Vista neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale (east of U.S. 1 between the New River and Southeast 17th Street Causeway. )  There are lovely water views and mansions along the finger canals and we like to explore the historic Evergreen Cemetery.

Lighthouse Point (east of U.S.1 between Northeast 24th Street and Northeast 26th Street.) This well-to-do neighborhood has water views and it’s fun to stumble upon the historic restaurant Cap’s Place among the mansions.

Coral Gables. We parked at University of Miami, explored the lushly landscaped neighborhoods and stopped to walk around and admire the interior of the historic Biltmore Hotel.

Do you have a favorite South Florida bike trail that we missed? Do you disagree with the opinions here? Please tell us about it!  Use the comment field below.

For Florida bike trails in other regions, visit our biking and hiking trail section.

 

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16 Comments

  1. Great article. I ended here looking for a place to ride tomorrow.

    This will make a Bike ride bucket list for the upcoming months.

    Thanks! Raymond

    • Thanks Raymond. I’ve spent years looking for places to ride, and I am always hoping to find new spots. Please share any places you might have discovered in the comments field. Thanks!

  2. Joseph Bond says:

    I am here in Bella Terra , Estero Fl. Not many bike trails unless you ride the roads and here during season not good. My question is.. Where in SW Florida I a safe places to ride..?

  3. I really enjoyed reading your article. I have been riding more for the last 6 months and really enjoy discovering new scenery. Thank you for all your time in putting this article together. I am bookmarking this site!

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