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East Central Regional Rail Trail: 50 mile bike trail; something for every rider

Last updated on May 23rd, 2021 at 04:37 pm

This section of the East Cosat Regional Bike Trail west of I-95 in Brevard County passes through wild and open land ona smooth 12-foot-wide paved path that goes on for miles. (Photo: David Blasco)
This section of the East Coast Regional Bike Trail west of I-95 in Brevard County passes through wild and open land on a smooth 12-foot-wide paved path that goes on for miles. (Photo: David Blasco)

The East Central Regional Rail Trail deserves a catchier name because it’s a great bike trail – long, smooth, scenic and well-supported with signage and amenities.

This relatively new trail is 52 miles long, thanks to the final 3-mile-long section completed in May 2021.

The East Central Regional Rail Trail extends across Brevard and Volusia counties on abandoned rail lines. It’s the longest rail-trail conversion in the state.

The trail has three legs – one extending up to Edgewater and one down to Titusville at the Indian River. Those two trails meet west of I-95 and continue west through beautiful undeveloped countryside. The trail trevels along side the Osteen-Maytown Road and continues to an excellent starting or turn-around spot, Green Spring Park.

Scenery along the East Central Regional Rail Trail between I-95 and where the trail now is interrupted at Gobblers Lodge Road. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Scenery along the East Central Regional Rail Trail. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

East Central Regional Rail Trail and its many connections

One great thing about the East Central Regional Rail Trail is it connects to other terrific trails under development.

The Spring to Spring Trail eventually will allow you to pedal all the way north to DeLeon Springs State Park. Right now, there is a section that seamlessly connects to the East Coast Regional Rail Trail and continues 8 miles to Gemini Springs Park and Lake Monroe Park.

What’s even more exciting, the East Central Regional Rail Trail is also an important piece of the developing Coast to Coast Trail, which will extend all the way across Florida to St. Petersburg. (It’s 80 percent done!) And there’s another trail being built that will connect to the East Central Regional Trail – The St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop.

The only place to get a snack or beverage along the long, rural section of the East Central Rail Trail is this help-yourself honor-system stop, Vergie's Pit Stop. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The only place to get a snack or beverage along the long, rural section of the East Central Rail Trail is this help-yourself honor-system stop, Vergie’s Pit Stop. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

What’s the best section of the East Central Regional Rail Trail?

The trail has different appeals for different riders. I am a slower, recreational rider who seeks out 10 to 20 mile rides with scenery and interesting stops along the way. There are sections of the East Central Regional Rail Trail that are perfect for my kind of rider.

The cyclist who wants to ride 50 miles, build up speed and minimize street crossings will also find sections of the East Central Regional Rail Trail that are perfect.

With 50 miles of trail, there is something for everyone!

he East Central Regional Rail Trail flows into the Spring-to-Spring Trail at Green Spring and it contains some of the most scenic sections of trail. (Photo: David Blasco)
The East Central Regional Rail Trail flows into the Spring-to-Spring Trail at Green Spring and it contains some of the most scenic sections of trail. (Photo: David Blasco)

Tips for riding the East Central Regional Rail Trail

You’ll have to sit down with the maps and figure out where it’s best for you to start and finish. I found it hard to find qualitative information about the trail and I think if I were doing it again, I might select different sections. I pedaled two sections, so I can’t speak to the entire 50 mile trail.

A good place to start is this map of the East Central Regional Rail Trail from Traillink.

You may see some wildlife along the East Central Regional Rail Trail. These sandhill cranes were hanging out nearby. (Photo: David Blasco)
You may see some wildlife along the East Central Regional Rail Trail. These sandhill cranes were hanging out nearby. (Photo: David Blasco)

A few tips for planning your bike ride:

If you are looking for natural beauty, the rural area west of I-95 is a rare section of Florida that has been preserved in its natural state.

The section of the trail between the trailhead just west of I-95 on Aurentia Road and heading west is absolutely nothing but nature. You cross your first intersection after 9 miles! This is a great section for distance riders. The scenery goes through forests and some cypress swamps with almost no signs of man’s development. Two downsides: There’s not a lot of shade and not a lot of scenic variety.

The only diversion along this section is the funky “honor system” snack shop, Vergie’s Pit Stop, where you can pick up cold drinks, bananas, granola bars and cookies and leave whatever you like. This is right at the Maytown trailhead.

If you bicycle this section, there are bathroom facilities at the Maytown trailhead and the Gobblers Lodge trailhead.

Another section recommended for scenic beauty starts at the Osteen Trailhead (just east of SR 415 on New Smyrna Blvd.) Riders like to stop at the nearby Osteen Diner, about two blocks away. From the Osteen Trailhead, the trail has a very scenic 6-mile section to Green Spring Park, the official end of the East Coast Regional Rail Trail. This section is away from main roads and offers shade and a variety of scenery.

If you’re up for more than a 12-mile round trip, it’s easy to continue from Green Spring Park along the Spring to Spring Trail to Gemini Springs, 5 miles west. Part of this section of the Spring to Spring Trail is under a beautiful live-oak-tree canopy, but part runs alongside a big boring divided highway. You can continue on the Spring to Spring Trail for another 2.7 miles to Lake Monroe Park.

Read on for a bit more about these two parks.

Green Spring Park anchors one end of the East Central Regional Rail Trail. It's worth a stop: It's milky green waters are stunning. (Photo: David Blasco)
Green Spring Park anchors one end of the East Central Regional Rail Trail. It’s worth a stop: Its milky green water is stunning. (Photo: David Blasco)

Worthwhile stops: Two smaller springs

We bicycled the western end of the East Central Regional Rail Trail because we had never visited the two springs along this section of the bike trail. These are both excellent places to visit.

Both Green Spring and Gemini Springs are beautiful and out-of-the-way stops known mostly by locals. Neither is a big spring with a spectacular spring boil, but each has its charms.

Green Springs is a remarkable iridescent green color – like a pool of milky absinthe. People have been marveling at it for literally 180 years. (The spring and its properties were settled in 1841 and soon became an attraction for visitors.) 

It is a small circular spring with huge trees overhanging the water that frame it beautifully. It is a sulphur spring, but has only a mild sulphuric odor.

There is no swimming in this spring, which does not stop the local kids from climbing the huge trees that overhang the spring and jumping in, even when a small alligator is clearly present, as they did the day we visited. 

There are some short trails through the woods around Green Spring. It’s a lush forest where you can encounter a little clear stream with a small waterfall.

Gemini Springs Park, along the Spring to Spring Trail, has two springs to see and lovely clear water you can admire from many vantage points. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Gemini Springs Park, along the Spring to Spring Trail, has two springs to see and lovely clear water you can admire from many vantage points, including this deck of the Springhouse. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Green Springs Park has restrooms, playground and plenty of parking for bicyclists. It is located across a scenic lakefront road from Lake Monroe and adjacent to a boat launch on the lake.

Five miles away along the Spring to Spring Trail, Gemini Springs is a much larger park, with multiple picnic sites and several places to view the springs, including the neat Springhouse pavilion with a deck built around some beautiful old trees.

It even offers 10 tent-only primitive camping sites under big arching live oak trees.

The park’s two springs – that’s why it’s named Gemini, get it? — are small and easily viewed.

There is a fishing pier and there is no question there are fish in the spring — they are easy to see in the clear water.

A decade or more ago there was swimming at Gemini Springs, but no longer.

Both county parks are free and they are the sort of little discoveries that can make an outing a delight.

Old Florida is one view along the East Central Rail Trail. (Photo: David Blasco)
Old Florida is on view along the East Central Regional Rail Trail. (Photo: David Blasco)

Planning resources for your bike ride

From the Editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm rates and details when planning your trip by following the links in this article.

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