Mount Dora Bike Fest is one of many Mount Dora festivals
Mount Dora is a quaint Florida town known for its festivals and antique shows, and its hilly terrain and nearby rail trails make it an ideal place for bicycling and a bicycle festival. Mount Dora has many popular festivals; the bike fest is the oldest one of all.
For the 43rd year, on the weekend of Oct. 5-8, the Mount Dora Bicycle Festival will serve as ground zero for pedal power. More than a thousand cyclists of varying skills are expected to take up the ride, and thousands more will join the celebration. It is Florida’s oldest and largest bike festival.
There are three days of participatory events for cyclists, and Mount Dora doesn’t leave anyone behind. There will be dozens of booths serving food, selling crafts and bringing all that Mount Dora has to offer into the downtown area.
There are a variety of daily rides — 8, 12, 22, 25, 53, 67 miles, some with hills, some without, all winding through small towns and countryside. The most challenging: the 55-mile “Famous Battle of Buckhill,” which has an 1,835 feet elevation gain, including climbing up Sugarloaf Mountain, the highest point in the peninsula part of Florida at 312 feet above sea level.
One ride has as its destination an authentic German bakery, Yalaha Bakery in the small town of Yalaha, which is the sort of carb-happy destination you’ll earn if you stop there during this 53-mile ride.
Others wind through Ocala National Forest and through Emerelda Marsh, an outstanding site for birders.
A past participant writes on Yelp: “This event totally exceeded our expectations. There is just something really powerful about descending upon a place where hundreds of fellow riders converge. You feel like you belong and the anticipation of long, enjoyable rides is simply overwhelming. ”
During early October, Mount Dora has an average daily high of 84 degrees with nights dipping into the mid-60s. Morning rides, then, can be quite comfortable.
For more details on participation in the bicycle events, here’s a link to the Mount Dora Bicycle Festival website.
Bike Festival camping
Camping is being offered for participants in the bicycle festival at Montessori at Roseborough School, few blocks from downtown Mount Dora at 751 E. 5th Ave. Details on festival camping.
Best camping near Mount Dora:
Trimble Park (Orange County), 5802 Trimble Park Road, Mount Dora, FL 32757. This 71-acre park sits beside Lake Beauclaire and has 15 grassy campsites shaded by oak trees. Each site has a 30-amp electric hookup, as well as picnic tables, grill and fire rings. There are no sewer hookups, but a dump station is nearby. Also on site are rest rooms, showers a boat ramp and a playground. Campsites are $23 per night with discounts for seniors and Orange County residents. Call 352-383-1993 for reservations up to 45 days in advance. The park is three miles from Mount Dora. Visit the web site: Orange County Parks
Kelly Park/Rock Springs Park (Orange County), 400 E. Kelly Park Road, Apopka, FL 32712. The focal point of this 245-acre park is Rock Spring, but the campground is one of my favorites. There are 26 campsites, and every one of them is spacious, clean and well-shaded. There is a centrally located restroom with showers, and each site has a fire ring, grill, table, water and electric. No sewer hookups, but a dump station is nearby. Call the park office at 407-889-4179 for reservations up to 45 days in advance. This park is 12 miles from Mount Dora. Read the related Florida Rambler article: Best Camping Near Orland0: Kelly Park hideaway
Wekiwa Springs State Park (Florida State Park), 1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka, FL 32712. This beautiful state park has its own spring, which merges with Rock Spring Run to form the Wekiva River. An easy 16-mile drive through Apopka to Mount Dora makes it convenient. Renovations plans, which will bring sewer hookups to all campsites, have been delayed until the summer of 2012, so reservations are being accepted through July 8. There are 60 campsites with water and electric hookups, a fire ring with grill and a picnic table. A dump station is on the premises, and there are two restrooms with showers. Pets are allowed. Reservations can be made online at ReserveAmerica. Read the related Florida Rambler article: Wekiva River Basin: A wild and scenic adventure
Lake Griffin State Park. (Florida State Park) 3089 US 441, Fruitland Park, FL 34731. Fishing for bass is the big attraction at this 500-acre oak-covered oasis. The shady full-facility campground features 40 well-buffered sites with electric, picnic table and campfire grills. No sewer hookups, but a dump station is available. Showers, restrooms and laundry facility are in the center of the campground. Pets are allowed. There is a boat ramp, and canoe rentals are available. Campsites are $18 per night, including water and electric. Book your campsite online up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica. The park is 21 miles from Mount Dora, near Leesburg. Visit the Florida State Parks web site for more information.
Alexander Springs Recreation Area. (Ocala National Forest), 49525 County Road 445, Altoona, FL. If you are lucky enough to get a campsite here, and there were still sites available when I checked, you will find one of the most pristine sub-tropical environments you may ever experience. This campground is located in Ocala National Forest and worth a few extra (25) miles travel to Mount Dora. There are 66 paved and shady sites, but amenities are limited. There are no electric or sewer hookups, but there are restrooms with showers and a dump station on site. Pets are allowed. The sites are very reasonable $21 per night and reservations can be made by calling 877-444-6777, or you can book online at Recreation.gov www.recreation.gov. For more information, visit the Ocala National Park web site.
Other accommodations: There are also a number of private campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, cottages and hotels in and around Mount Dora. For more information, call the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce at 352-383-2165, or visit their web site at mountdora.com for lodging information. www.mountdora.com
More about Mount Dora: Highlights of visiting Mount Dora, including the schedule of other festivals.
Resources for planning a visit to Mount Dora:
Things to do near Mount Dora
This region is full of state parks, state and national forests and hiking, biking and kayak trails. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Kayak Blackwater Creek and Lake Norris, splendid waterways near Mount Dora
- The West Orange Trail for bicycling
- Winter Garden and the historic Edgewater Hotel as a base.
- Kelly Park and Rock Springs Park
- Blue Spring State Park
- Ocala National Forest