Day 1 - Deland to Winter Garden
Tomorrow Trail Scout and #BVBikerJim are heading out to scout and report on our little corner of the Great Florida Trail Network. We will leave from Deland and make our way down the existing fragments of the ST Johns River to Sea Loop (SJR2C). From Deland we will head out Minnesota Avenue and then down Grand, crossing Highway 44 at the dreaded intersection where a horrible accident occurred recently. Or maybe we'll take Ridgewood which is reportedly a better highway crossing, but a much long stretch of shoulderless road. Deland is only a few miles from one of the best trails in Florida... and has not provided a safe way to get there... Shame on them.
But eventually we'll get to the SJR2C at Beresford park, and take that lovely trail south, using the new tunnel under French Avenue, proceeding past Blue Spring State Park, cross the amazing new RR overpass and then leave the trail at Blue Spring Drive (sadly there no access points on the southern extension which dead-ends 2.5 miles south of Blue Spring Avenue). From there we will take local roads as we can, but eventually will be forced onto Highway 17 with its dangerous bike lane/side walk hodgepodge until we get to Highbanks. From there we can follow Shell Road as far as Debary Sunrail Station. Once there we have to get back on the highway where we will join the (future) Coast to Coast Connector. Debary is one of the few places 4 Regional Connectors meet - the St Johns River to Sea, the Coast to Coast Connector, the East Coast Greenway alternate route, and the Heart of Florida Regional Connector. So it's vitally important that this get completed as soon as possible.
But for now, we'll have to use the highway 17 bridge to cross the St Johns River.... If we survive we'll report on that experience... This is, after all, the Coast to Coast Connector - Florida's premier trail and the Flagship of the Great Florida Trail Network. It would be bad publicity if touring cyclists got hit on the bridge.. Anyone pedaling from Titusville to St Pete on the C-2-C will have to get across the St Johns here or someplace else. Once across The Great River we have to negotiate our way under I4 and then south to Lake Mary where we will hopefully finally meet the Seminole Wekiva Trail (still following the C-2-C planned route).
We follow the Seminole Wekiva trail south for quite a ways, ultimately crossing over I4 on a wonderful bike overpass and south down to Highway 436 in Altimonte Springs. At this point we are on our own for about 5-6 miles to get over to the West Orange Trail... either a brutal ride in a narrow bike lane along the deadly 436 loop or attempting to thread our way through local streets... will let you know how this goes.
Once on the West Orange Trail, we are home free as far at traffic and dangerous streets are concerned... The West Orange Trail is one of the nicest trails in central Florida and one we are quite familiar with.. It's thrilling to know it will form such a vital leg in the (soon-to-be) legendary Coast to Coast Connector. We still have about 15 miles on the West Orange Trail to Winter Garden... 55 miles is a long day for us old codgers, and that's assuming we don't get lost or otherwise derailed. I can imagine we'll be 2 tired puppies when we finally reach our destination in Winter Garden... Will report more later... From Winter Garden we'll head back east to Winter Park... VIEW IN GOOGLE MAPS