Your Quick Guide to the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

So, you know Steve and I love to hike when we travel, especially to islands. One problem: There’s not a lot of hiking to be had on any of the Florida Keys! But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing active to do. Aside from the obvious activities like swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, and scuba diving, cycling is also a popular pastime. And where’s the best place to bike? On the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.

The trail is great for runners… if you don’t mind a little traffic noise!

How Long is the Trail?

The trail covers Henry Flagler’s former rail road that linked the Florida Keys from Key Largo to Key West, spanning 106 miles. The trail connects they Keys with 23 bridges (the “overseas” part), the longest of which is the Seven Mile Bridge from Marathon to Little Duck Key.

At the time of this writing, 90 miles of this trail are accessible, with the remaining 16 miles currently undergoing restoration. The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail will eventually be a portion of the East Coast Greenway, spanning from Key West all the way up to Maine!

A sneak peek from the ride!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Key West

What’s the Terrain?

The trail is fully paved with either asphalt or concrete. It’s mostly flat, but you’ll find some rises on the bridges and occasionally on the islands. Overall, the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage trail is accessible to people of almost all ages and fitness levels. My husband and I ran or walked on it almost every day, but we saw plenty of cyclists, too.

Be on the lookout for friends alongside the trail!
Love staying active on travel?
Check out the workouts on my Health and Wellness Page!

What Can I See and Do on the Trail?

Everything! The trail goes through the length of the Florida Keys, linking several popular sites, state parks, and wildlife sanctuaries. Whether you’re bird watching, fishing, enjoying the sea air, cycling, walking, running, or simply looking out for sea life from the lookout points on the bridges, there is plenty to see and do on the trail. It goes right past John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo, Curry Hammock State Park and the History of Diving Museum on Islamorada, Crane Point Museum and Nature Center and the Turtle Hospital on Marathon, and more!

Don’t miss the train at the former Florida East Coast Railway Headquarters on Marathon!
Read on: What to Know Before You Visit the Florida Keys

Can I Park on the Trail?

Yes! There are several parking areas along the trail, so you can drive to the section you want to explore and walk or cycle from there. One of the more popular places to cycle, walk, or even fish is the Seven-mile Bridge.

You can still see the old railroad tracks from the Seven-mile Bridge!
Keep reading: The Ultimate List of Road Trip Tips

Tips for the Trail

No Bike? No Problem!

Many hotels and resorts in the Florida Keys have bikes for rent or complimentary use by guests. If your accommodation does not, just ask at the front desk where you can rent a bike for a few hours, or even a whole day. And don’t feel pressured to cycle the entire trail. You can definitely go at your own pace and enjoy as much or as little of the trail as you want. No judgement here.

An alternative is to take a boat to Pigeon Key to see where the railroad workers used to live!
More here: The Ultimate List of Hiking Tips

Double Exposure

The trail is 100% outdoors, and the Florida sunshine is glorious, but bright! Bring plenty of sunscreen and water, whether you’re cycling, walking, running, or skating your way along the trail. The sunscreen below is reef safe, and the fact that it’s a solid makes it easy for travel. The Nathan brand of water bottles, also below, is my favorite!

Read next: The Essential Items You Forgot to Pack for the Beach

Biker Beware

If you read reviews of the trail, you’ll quickly realize there are some narrow stretches of the trail where cars, cyclists, and walkers share the road. So be aware of your surroundings, and expect drivers to be unfamiliar with their rental cars and distracted by the beauty of the Keys. Don’t be afraid, just be aware. And don’t worry–there are also plenty of sections where the biking and walking trail are completely separated from the road!

We took a couple of bikes out one afternoon to explore the trail through Islamorada!

For more information about the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, visit the Florida State Parks website!

Want more about the Florida Keys? You’ll find everything you need and more on my United States Page!

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