Hawthorne Trail

It was already quite warm in the sun at 8:00 AM, but became pleasant as soon as we ducked into the shade and climbed through the hammock. There were quite a few runners finishing up a heated effort as we just started out and we encountered several small groups of cyclists both coming and going.

Gary and Sandra joined me on this hot morning jaunt and we whiled away the ride, essentially without incident, at a better pace.

Photos are posted in the gallery.

Trail Condition: Excellent
Facilities: Sufficient
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Fanning Springs Tee

It is really starting to warm on up. I think we tried too hard to avoid overdoing it in the sun and wound up pedaling a light 24 miles this time out. Even got started early enough to see a couple cotton tails. We met in at the trailhead in Fanning Springs and Deanne, Sandra, Rachel and I rode first toward Trenton to the east for about 5 miles, then west toward Cross City across the Suwannee River and into Old Town, then back down to Fanning Springs and along the shaded sidewalk behind the north side of town to Fort Fanning Park and finally south toward Chiefland until the shade tunnel gave out and we doubled back to Fanning Springs State Park for a swim. Everyone agreed that it hit the spot.

It was almost noon when we finished loading up and moved the cars over to Huckleberry's Barbeque for lunch.

Photos are in the gallery.

Nature Coast State Trail Condition: Excellent
Facilities: at the State Park in Fanning Springs
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Fort White to Little River Springs

It still surprises me how quickly the miles tick past when good conversion, friends, and weather are combined with bicycles. Today was no exception when Lew, Sheila, Larry, Don, and Mei joined Deanne and me for a ride to the spring and back. Lew brought along his new acquisition, a Rans Stratus XP from Hampton's Edge Trailside Bicycles.

We had selected Little River Springs as our destination and started in Fort White on the western part of the O'Leno to Ichetucknee Trail. At the Ichetucknee River, this trail ends and you must cross the river on US 27 to then be able to mount the next trail known as the Suwannee River Greenway at Branford. Riding both these trails in the same outing, the rider cannot help noticing the sharp contrast between the first trail that has experienced absolutely no maintenance since being built over a year ago and one that is regularly maintained. Sadly, the Branford trail is now having troubles with its foundation beyond what would be covered by its routine maintenance. There are some root-based eruptions in the surface in at least one location, but much worse, there are several areas of sinkhole-like activity where the asphalt has collapsed into dangerous holes in the trail. The kind of hole that could easily result in dropping a cyclist and/or damaging a wheel. Not that there is any evidence of it being more than a coincidence, but you should navigate this trail very carefully in the area immediately across the highway from the Suwannee American Cement plant as that is where most of the failed asphalt is concentrated. Once this trail tucks back into the shade and onto the railroad right-of-way approaching Branford, it is much more pleasant and the surface is again stable.

Ivey Memorial Park in Branford had almost no visitors at its cool Branford Spring, but we enjoyed pausing to have a look before riding on.

There likely were more on their way, since it was only half passed ten when we arrived, but we found Little River Springs not crowded at all. Maybe half a dozen folks in the water as other cyclists and trucks arrived. It's usually at least a temptation, but today had already warmed enough that it was more of a requirement to jump in the refreshing spring. More of us did than didn't. By the way, that first mile or two after a dip in the spring is just perfect.

A real treat was inherent in the availability of chilled fruit. Not something normally found on a hot ride in the sun, but Sheila provided cool, fresh cherries at the spring and, like an oasis in the desert, Don and Mei served us iced watermelon on their tailgate at ride's end. Photos are in the gallery. My Goodness, that sure was a quick 38 miles!


Trail Condition: Rideable
Facilities: Nice at Little River Springs
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National Trails Day Ride

This Saturday's ride is is sponsored by our friend's at:

National Trails Day Ride
on the Nature Coast State Trail

Gary offers 12 Excellent Reasons to Join Us

All rides start at 9:00 AM (or thereabouts)
from the Old Train Depot, 419 North Main Street in Trenton.
Trenton is about 25 m
iles West of Gainesville on SR 26.

A fun, open, very low-key ride on the smoothly paved Nature Coast State Trail for all levels of bicyclists, including children. Family ride groups are encouraged.

Ride options range from a few miles for beginning riders and families with small children, up to 64 miles for experienced cyclists who choose to ride the entire trail.

The old railroad bridge where the Trail crosses the Suwannee River near Old Town is a favorite option (about 12 miles from Trenton). The original machinery which made the bridge pivot to allow steamboats to pass can still be seen from the bank of the river below the trail. The rural landscape along the trail offers a
peaceful atmosphere complete with live oaks and wildflowers.
Maps of the trail will be provided at the starting point in Trenton. There will be refreshments at the Depot and there are convenience stores along the trail. There is a Dairy Queen under the live oaks in Cross City. The ride is not otherwise supported.

For information, contact
kirk.marhefka@dep.state.fl.us or 352-535-5181
Helmets are required for children under 16 and recommended for everyone.

We were told that somewhere around 70 folks turned out for today's festivities. It was a clear, hot day with a light breeze. The trailhead was manned by Kirk and Billy and there were plenty of refreshments, handouts, and general good cheer. Several of our recumbent friends, Jim, James, George, Lea, Bonnie, Lanny, Don, Mei, Dan (and more) from the Gainesville Cycling Club were on hand and got a bit of a head start on us as I pulled my trike from the car with a fresh flat on it, but we encountered them again near Chiefland and they shouted out their lunch plan.

Gary took a brief test ride on my new Trice Q from ICE (Inspired Cycle Engineering) while Deanne and I enjoyed a rest in the shade. I am never quite sure what will cross my path next, but that's part of what makes it fun to travel a path. Today it turned out to be what the old timers around these parts used to call a Hoover Chicken.

Photos taken today are up in the gallery and we hope to see you next week in Fort White.
Thanks again, Kirk, Billy, and all the great folks at the Office of Greenways & Trails!

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