The Florida Connector is a 330-mile route that takes cyclists and walkers on a journey through some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in Florida. The route is divided into three main sections: the East Coast Greenway, the Southern Tier Route, and the Overseas Heritage Trail.
The East Coast Greenway is the northernmost section of the Florida Connector, stretching from St. Augustine to Titusville. This section of the route follows the Atlantic coast and passes through several cities and towns, including Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, and Cocoa Beach. The route is well-marked and offers cyclists a mix of bike paths, shared roads, and off-road trails, making it suitable for cyclists of all levels.
One of the highlights of the East Coast Greenway is the beautiful scenery that cyclists will encounter along the way. From the historic landmarks of St. Augustine to the beautiful beaches of Daytona and Cocoa Beach, this section of the route provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing and exploring. Cyclists can take a break from their ride and soak up the sun on the beach, explore the historic sites, or sample some of the local cuisine in the many restaurants and cafes along the way.
The Southern Tier Route is the central section of the Florida Connector, stretching from Titusville to Clewiston. This section of the route takes cyclists through rural countryside, small towns, and suburban neighborhoods. The route follows a mix of bike paths, shared roads, and off-road trails, providing cyclists with a varied and exciting ride.
One of the main attractions of the Southern Tier Route is the beautiful natural scenery. Cyclists will pass through citrus groves, cattle ranches, and sugarcane fields, as well as scenic nature preserves like the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. Along the way, cyclists can also visit small towns like Lake Placid, Avon Park, and Arcadia, where they can take a break and explore the local history and culture.
The Overseas Heritage Trail is the southernmost section of the Florida Connector, stretching from Clewiston to Key West. This section of the route follows the historic Overseas Railroad, which was built by Henry Flagler in the early 20th century. The railroad was destroyed by a hurricane in 1935, and the route was later converted into a bike path. The Overseas Heritage Trail offers cyclists stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a chance to explore the unique culture and history of the Florida Keys.
One of the highlights of the Overseas Heritage Trail is the famous Seven Mile Bridge, which connects Marathon to Little Duck Key. The bridge provides cyclists with a thrilling ride over the ocean, offering breathtaking views of the turquoise waters and surrounding islands. Along the way, cyclists can also visit the many historic sites and cultural landmarks of the Florida Keys, including the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, and the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.
The Florida Connector is a collaborative effort between several organizations, including the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation, the East Coast Greenway Alliance, and the Adventure Cycling Association. The route was established in 2014 as part of a larger effort to promote cycling and active transportation in Florida.
One of the main goals of the Florida Connector is to promote sustainable transportation and eco-tourism in Florida. By providing a safe and accessible route for cyclists and walkers, the Florida Connector encourages people to explore Florida's natural beauty without relying on cars or other motorized vehicles. The route also promotes healthy and active lifestyles, providing a fun and exciting way for people to exercise and stay active.
Another goal of the Florida Connector is to boost the local economy by attracting tourists and visitors to the state. By showcasing Florida's diverse natural and cultural attractions, the Florida Connector encourages visitors to stay longer and spend more money in the local communities. Many businesses along the route, including restaurants, hotels, and bike shops, have already seen an increase in business since the route was established.
In addition to promoting sustainable transportation and eco-tourism, the Florida Connector also serves as a valuable resource for cyclists and walkers. The route provides a safe and accessible option for commuting, recreational cycling, and long-distance touring. The route is well-marked and includes several amenities, including rest areas, bike racks, and water fountains, making it easier for cyclists to plan their trips and stay hydrated.
The Florida Connector is also an important tool for promoting active transportation and healthy lifestyles. By providing a safe and accessible option for cycling and walking, the route encourages people to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. Studies have shown that regular physical activity can help prevent chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as improve mental health and well-being.
Overall, the Florida Connector is a unique and exciting bike route that offers cyclists and walkers a chance to explore the natural beauty and cultural richness of Florida. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or a casual rider, the route provides something for everyone, from beautiful beaches and scenic countryside to historic landmarks and cultural attractions. By promoting sustainable transportation, eco-tourism, and healthy lifestyles, the Florida Connector is helping to create a brighter and more vibrant future for Florida and its residents.