Though Florida is better known for the ocean and water sports like paddle boarding, there are beautiful landscapes just waiting for you. It’s that time of year when the bikers come out in full Spandex and helmets. Get out your 12-pack of water and start picking out your granola bars, because it’s time to head out on the trails you’ll love the most.
Alafia River State Park
The Alafia River State Park is one of our very favorites. This Intermediate-level trail is a cool 14 miles long. This park’s singletracks are IMBA EPIC certified.
Varying areas of the park have different levels of difficulty. You can find a nice novice area (even easy enough for small children!) just as easily as you can find a highly advanced section. There are some easy loops, and the trails are clearly marked with directions. We road this trail on our office GT Aggressor and it was perfect,
The bathrooms have hot water, there are bicycle-rinsing stations, and why are you not already out here on these trails? You can look forward to a playground and a volleyball net when you need something different to do that’s still active, and if you need a break, there are plenty of shaded pavilions for you to rest under.
If you love this area as much as we do, you can even go camping here. If horses are more your speed, there are also equine trails you can give a go. The amenities provided really make this a stellar area to go biking in.
The parking fee is only $4 if you’re there by yourself, and only $5 for a car load of up to 8 people. Reasonable, right? There’s plenty of water if you find yourself unprepared for the summer heat, and they even have some areas that are great for biking off that winter fat.
If you need more resources for the area, you can look into Club SWAMP and also read up on the local bike shops, races, and other types of trails. Popular singletracks include Sand Pines, Moonscape, Buzzard’s Bay, Gatorback, Shelly’s Loop, Rollercoaster, Razorback, and Black Diamonds.
The next best mountain bike trail in Florida is Santos. With 85 miles of bike trails, Santos is the largest mountain biking park in the Ocala area.
When the Cross Florida Barge Canal project was terminated in the late 1960s, the greenway was born.
You can find standard trail markings across the area. The most advanced areas (marked with red) are around two abandoned mining pits. Be careful, though, as the huge network of trails makes it very easy to get lost if you’re not used to the area. The locals are generally friendly enough to help with directions if you find yourself unsure of where you are.
The trails vary widely, with some that are flat and some that are rocky. Some are rolling, while others are steep. You could easily spend a whole week here and never get tired of the different trails. In the Red trail system, you can find a dirt jump park called the Vortex. Bikers recommend going to that area first, before your legs get too tired from the rest of the trails.
There are two great bike-rental places in the area (Santos Bike Rental and Greenway Bicycles), so don’t be afraid to give either of them a try. This park includes a pump track, drinking water, and restrooms. The local biking club is Ocala Mountain Bike Association. This area was also designated as the first IMBA Bronze ride center.
Some bikers recommend keeping an eye out at intersections, as the equine trails and hiking trails often intersect with the biking trails. The highest jump is up to 25 feet, and there are a lot more jumps along the way.
Imba Red is highly recommended as a two-mile singletrack for advanced bikers. Be on the lookout for rock gardens, ladder ramps, and other technically difficult obstacles. It’s easy to find your way around, and the steep hills have lookouts so they don’t take you by surprise. It’s the longest of the Red trails in Santos, so don’t miss out on this one!
Anthill is a great Expert-level trail at Santos, but it holds itself at less than a mile in terms of length. It’s quite rocky and very steep, so if you like a good challenge, this might be your cup of tea. It’s not for the faint of heart, though, so you might find yourself doing some walking if this trail gets too intense for you.
Ern N Burn is only 3 miles of singletrack, but it still ranks up there as one of the most highly rated trails in Florida. It’s not a loop, so you get double the fun if you take trips from one end to the other. Dips, climbs, and tight turns create quite a bit of an experience for the short distance. This reinforced trail may have once been an old barge canal but has a lot of elevation changes for such a small piece of this expansive park. Rolling and riding have a nice balance among the switchbacks and hairpin corners.
Watch out for pine needles and leaves on the trail, because they can get pretty slippery, particularly at the end of the day. Manage your speed, and you’ll find yourself having a fun time. To make it even prettier, keep an eye out for rock gardens that add to the immense beauty of this area.
This is a great trail to do with your friends, and there’s enough technical stuff for you to test your skills, especially if you’re an Intermediate rider. The Ross Prairie Trailhead is a stop you can make if you need to rest and get some water.
Want to make the most of your time on this singletrack? If you connect it with the Nayl’s trail, you can get yourself a loop that takes you 18 to 20 miles. More strenuous fun comes if you connect with the Ross Prairie campground. Make sure you have the stamina to do this!
Balm Boyette Scrub Preserve
Another one of the best mountain bike trails in Florida is a mouthful: Balm Boyette Scrub Preserve.
This lesser-known area is often overshadowed by other trails, but this one simply can’t be left behind. It’s in the area where a phosphate mine used to be, and so it’s kind of hidden from major roads, making it a little harder to find than other, more popular trails.
Balm Boyette features 20 miles of singletracks, one of which is over 12 continuous miles (Forested Loop Trail).
Want riding that reminds you of going cross-country? You can’t skip out on Balm Boyette, then. There are large fields and beautiful lakefront views from the trail. Enjoy the forested canopy and a few small climbs. You can expect intermediate riders to love this area. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner—there are some trails that are labeled with Green for easier tracks.
The local club is SWAMP, and there are plenty of hiking trails and campground areas if you have time to stick around. It’s all very well-maintained and has a lot of volunteers that can help you out. A lot of reviewers say that this area is seriously underrated and overlooked. Don’t forget to make a stop here!
Ridgeline is a popular trail in this area, with about 2 miles of a great workout. With strenuous climbs and fast-paced sections, you might find yourself feeling like you’re in an amusement park and on a rollercoaster. This Advanced trail is great fun if you can avoid braking too often. Erosion is always changing the shape of the trail, so you might find it feels different from one year to the next. This exciting trail is always popular. Its climbs even have names, including “Corkscrew” and “The Plunge.” You can’t miss this trail if you’re in Balm Boyette.
The next best mountain bike trail in Florida is Markham Park, and it has 10 miles of beautiful singletracks for advanced bike riders. They originally dug lakes in this area, so you can expect bumpy rides that will challenge any experienced biker. This nice little park is just 30 miles north of Miami.
Keep an eye out for obstacles; they’re not always easily visible! You also have to watch a video and sign a waiver before you’re allowed to ride the trails because of their high technical difficulty.
And be careful if there’s been a lot of rain lately! It can make it really difficult to actually get any riding done. The lakes often run over onto the trails if it’s been raining pretty hard.
There are also a few Novice and Intermediate trails, but this area is generally geared toward Expert and Pro tracks. You should give these trails a ride if you’re in southern Florida and if you’re anywhere between an Intermediate rider and a Pro-level rider.
Having a rocky time? There are a lot of points where you can ditch the trail and find something easier to ride on. Club Mud maintains the trail and all of its features, including jumps and drops. It’s solid, somehow in spite of all the sand nearby. The community support is great for all of the different parts of a maintaining a trail system, including rebuilding and reshaping of trails and its features.
Looking for an Expert-level trail? Give the Gun Range some of your time. This singletrack loop is a double red-diamond trail, so know what you’re getting into if you’re thinking about this area. Get ready for one mile of grueling work, with tough climbs and plenty of roots and rocks to trip you up at every turn of your wheels. You’ll be grateful to know that you can look forward to restrooms, winter-fat biking, and drinking water—because you’ll need a break after just a few loops through here, even if you’re advanced.
Chuck Lennon Park
Another awesome mountain bike trails in Florida is Chuck Lennon Park. This Intermediate area is small, but it has 5 tracks and a dirt-jump area. It has a bike wash and a beginner skills challenge.
The newest trail, Wild Turkey, puts you to the test with bridges and switchbacks, as well as a small drop. Look for a lot of drops and smooth turns, with great wood features. Even better, everything is labeled very well.
Biking isn’t allowed at night, on a general basis, as it closes around sunset. The only exception to this is when there is a ball game going on in the area. We recommend calling in advance to find out.
Raccoon Run and Screaming Hawk are popular choices with a good difficulty level. This area has recovered well from the ravages of Hurricane Matthew, and all of the trails are open again.
20th Avenue Gainesville
The next best mountain bike trail in Florida is 20th Avenue. It has a fire road at the end and is fantastic for beginners. Without a lot of elevation changes, the trails are easier for beginning riders than a lot of other popular trails. Watch out for roots, though!
Want to get better at biking? This is a great area to try out your skills and improve. Reviewers say it’s not too bad, but you shouldn’t travel to Gainesville just for this area.
If you leave the nature sanctuary via the fire road, you can head to Split Rock to extend these short trails (only 2 miles) a little further.
Heading to Tallahassee? Tom Brown might be up your alley. Tom Brown and Cadillac are technically separate as trail systems, but they interlace so well that you’ll feel like it’s seamless. It’s a nice singletrack with some good technical features that can help you practice any biking skills that you need to work on. Roots, log bridges, roots, and climbs are all great features that you’ll love to try out.
Tom Brown’s park is brimming with cool additions, like a playground, soccer field, tennis court, BMX track, and even a lake! That way, if you bring non-bikers along, your friends and family can still enjoy themselves while you go out for a ride. You can also rent bikes in the area, as well as find great lodging options. Higher Ground bike shop is an important stop for you to make if you’re over here.
COTparks is the local group that maintains the trail system. This area is very well-rated and is more beautiful than the pictures give it credit for!
San Felasco is another stop you should try to make if you’re in central Florida. Do you like gentle climbs followed by quick downhills? This is your trail. With about 25 to 30 miles of trails, this state park is a (mostly) smooth singletrack that has a lot of hills, unlike the majority of Florida.
Looking for scenic mileage? You can’t miss this trail. You can do easy trails and harder trails, as well as an event that goes over 50 miles, the Tour de Felasco. It’s so popular that it sells out within hours—and sometimes only minutes.
These interconnecting loops provide a lot of variety in terms of distance and routes. The area also has trails for hiking and horse-riding, but the equestrian areas use separate trails from the bikers. You can’t camp here, but you can use the restroom and wash your bike. About 10 miles away is where you can find your closest lodging options.
The Conquistador is a real lung-buster as an Advanced singletrack of only 3 miles in length. Your fitness levels will be put to the test if you give this trail a chance.
Maybe give this area a pass if you’re a beginner, but some of the harder trails aren’t as difficult as they may seem. Don’t fret if you don’t have a good sense of direction, because you can find trail markers and “you are here” maps to help you find your way.
Budget cuts have been threatening this beautiful trail system, so ride it while it’s still open and let the local officials know if you like it!
Timberlane School Road Trail
Another trail you have no reason to skip is the Timberlane School Road Trail. This is arguably one of the best mountain bike trails in Florida, despite being one of the shortest. This one-mile singletrack is short but gives you a lot of bang for your buck! Expect to see bridges, fallen trees, stumps, streams, and a steep hill! This intense workout is great for advanced bikers. Oh, and one reviewer recommends checking for ticks after you pass through here!
Jimmie Cottons trail
Looking for something a little more exclusive? The highly-rated Jimmie Cottons trail is by invitation only, but these 12 miles are more than worth it if you can make it in. You’ll need to talk to the Ridge Riders Club and the Winter Haven Bike Shop if you want to give this one a shot. This Expert trail has recovered a lot after Hurricane Charlie, and it’s better than ever. Expect narrow ridges, protruding roots, and even a sliding bridge! Every twist and turn is great if your skills are up to Expert level.
Apoxee Park is a great getaway if you want 17 miles of easy biking. It’s a flat doubletrack with lots of wildlife to look at. Keep your eyes peeled for birds, alligators, turtles, raccoons, otters, and more! Hard-packed sand and recycled asphalt keep bikers on an easygoing path.
Withlacoochee State Forest
If you’re still interested in some gentle trails, try out Withlacoochee State Forest: Croom Section. It’s a great area to try out 14 miles of fun for bikers of any skill level. It’s got a lot of labels, but you should pay extra attention for trail markers, because they’re not always very visible. This singletrack has a lot of trees and brush, and you can even go hunting here during the right time of year. The best part? You can actually go riding here at night! It’s also maintained by SWAMP and has some good bailout points if you get nervous. Look forward to steep hills and bring lots of water, because it gets quite hot in this area.
The Northern Pits area of Croom has 4 miles of this trail and is more advanced than the other 10 miles or so. Enjoy the sudden drops and harsh climbs.
Cadillac Mountain Bike Trail
Looking for a challenging Intermediate trail? Give the Cadillac Mountain Bike Trail a chance. There are easier sections of it, but there are also Expert sections. Look out for Black Diamonds and Blue Squares. It’s only 2 miles long, but it’s worth trying just for the fun of it. Bikers of all skill levels say that this area is fun for everyone.
Loyce E. Harpe Park
Loyce E. Harpe Park has earned its rank as one of the best mountain bike trails in Florida. With about 7 miles of varied terrain, this technical track is another fun one for Intermediate-level riders. The Carter Park trails lead you through an old mine area, and the paths aren’t overgrown. There are plenty of root sections to give you a little bit of a challenge. Fun drops and ledges, combined with the animals (even alligators and snakes!) that you might see along the way, make this trail unique for Intermediate bikers.
Unless you like roughing it, we recommend bringing a map and being prepared to possibly get lost. While this trail system excels in many ways, it’s labeled rather poorly. The tracks are laid out well and give you enough mileage for a decent workout. Look forward to a lot of lush greenery and beautiful oak trees.
This area might surprise you, because a lot of people assume that all of Florida is flat and boring. But not here! Get ready for more of a workout than you’d normally expect in an area like this. It’s better to combine the Rollercoaster trail with other ones, as it’s a little short and somewhat links to other trails. It’s super-steep with a lot of ups and downs, just like you would expect from a trail called “Rollercoaster”!
Other trails of interest in this park include the Beast, Snake Ridge, and Big Momma—named after a local alligator that suns herself near the trails! If you like animals and lovely scenery, you can’t afford to miss Loyce E. Harpe Park.
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