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.
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!
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.
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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!
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.
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.
More here: The Ultimate List of Hiking Tips
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!
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!
Want more about the Florida Keys? You’ll find everything you need and more on my United States Page!
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