Move over Mickey, there’s a new tourist attraction in town – well, almost in town. Orlando’s vision of an expansive recreational trail network spanning from Polk City to the west, circumnavigating Orlando as far north as Lake Mary, east to Oviedo and as far south as Kissimmee is on the drawing board. Large pieces of this giant puzzle are already in place, construction is underway on other pieces and commitments, excitement and funding exist for almost all of the final pieces that should be in place by 2010.
This sprawling network of multi-use pathways could provide the perfect vacation opportunity for those who prefer recreation in the great outdoors over plodding through ubiquitous outlet strip malls and trudging like a zombie through a never-ending manufactured reality theme park. Maybe a trail network, however grand, may never compete with the likes of Disney, Sea World or Universal, but it certainly will better the lives of residents in the area as well as provide a reason for active adventurers to visit the land of make-believe.
I must admit that I discovered the “giant network of bike trails master plan” AFTER riding several of the Orlando area trails. Through my research on each individual trail I learned that some trails were planned to connect with others, and others with others. It wasn’t until I skillfully pieced together a giant map of the metro area that illustrated all of the existing and proposed trails that I saw the “big picture” – and what a big picture it is.
The plan for this expansive network also sprawls out to the east where the General James Van Fleet Trail (29.2 miles) and the Lake Minneola - Clermont Trail (3.1 miles) are also planned to be connected to the Orlando network. There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of funding to be allocated before this dream can become reality, but the wheels are in motion as new sections and facilities are being constructed all the time. If there were ever questions of commitment, one only need witness the incredible cable suspension pedestrian bridge that is spanning eight lanes of bustling I-4 connecting the beginnings of the Cross Seminole (currently Crossings Trail) with the Seminole - Wekiva trail.
Once this network is complete, it will be very interesting to transition from one trail to the other. As these trails were all developed one at a time by different planners, each has it’s own unique personality that often is reflected by its surrounding landscape and neighborhoods. It is interesting to ride from the Little Econ Greenway which feels fairly rural onto the Cady Way which has separate lanes for pedestrian and bike traffic and traverses a more residential and urban landscape. I for one am looking forward to packing up the panniers on my bike and circumnavigating the greater Orlando area over a period of a couple of days, staying at bed and breakfasts and hotels. My wait may not be too long.
This is a dynamic time in Orlando’s trail building history. Virtually all of these trails are in some state of development and expansion. Thereofore, the information listed here is outdated almost as fast as it is written. Commitment and funding for new projects not listed here is springing up all the time. For the most recent information, please contact the appropriate authority in our links section. As of late 2009 the plan looks something like this. Working clockwise from Oakland (east of Orlando).
Currently 22 miles - Oakland to Apopka. Travels east then north. Planned to connect with the Seminole Wekiva Trail to the east and eventually to the Lake Minneola Trail to the west.
Currently 14 miles - Altamonte Springs to Markham Road west of Sanford. Travels predominately north. Currently connects to the 4-mile Crossings Trail that is actually the northern most part of the Cross Seminole Trail.
Cross Seminole Trail - The Cross Seminole Trail runs from its connection with the Seminole Wekiva Trail at Heathrow in the north, to Lake Mary, Longwood, Winter Springs, Oviedo and then turns south west towards Goldenrod and it's connection with the Cady Way Trail. Orlando, Florida. Some sections as of 10/09 do not quite connect.
The trail currently extends almost 9 miles from the intersection of Alafaya Trail and Lokanotosa Trail, through Jay Blanchard Park, to Forsyth Road, north to Hanging Moss Road,South along N Semoran Blvd. and finally west on Bladwin Park Street and the connection with the Cady Way Trail.
Review Coming Soon
Currently 6.5 miles – Trail users can travel between the City of Winter Park to the Fashion Square Mall to the City of Oviedo. The Cady Way Trail now stretches 6.5-miles with the completion of the new Cady Way Trail Bridge that spans across Semoran Boulevard just south of Aloma. The path of the 685 foot bridge begins at Ranger Boulevard, connects the trail to Forsyth Road and ends at Hall Road and Aloma connecting it to the Cross Seminole Trail.
Review Coming Soon
Currently 2 miles – runs predominately east - west and connects Poppy Park with area schools and parks, then through residential streets to the Dr. Smith Center. Lake Fran Trail connects with the north – south Shingle Creek Trail.
Review Coming Soon
Currently 3.25 miles complete, 1.25 currently under construction, 33 total miles planned – The trail will some day link Central Florida from the West Orange Trail south to Kissimmee. The current 4.5-mile segment being developed by the City of Orlando is the first part of the ultimate 33-mile Shingle Creek Trail. Phase 1 (3.25 miles) begins at the Lake Fran Trail just east of Poppy Park and travels south along the west shore of Lake Fran and continues across the extension of Metro West Boulevard. It will then loop in a southwest direction around the eagle's nest between two restored wetlands until the trail reaches the Shingle Creek Right-of-Way. The trail will continue south along the creek to L.B. McLeod Road. From L.B. McLeod Road, it will follow the Creek around the water treatment facility and then continue to the southeast along to Conroy Road. Phase 2 (1.25 miles) is under construction as of September 2004 and will follow the creek in the southeast direction from Conroy Road to Vineland Road and then under I-4 to the food court entrance at the Mall at Millennia. Construction of the northern phases that will ultimately link to the West Orange Trail will be the last phases to be built, perhaps by 2010.
Not to be left out, two trails to the west are planned for eventual connection with the Orlando area system.
29.2 miles – Mabel to Polk City. Travels north. Will connect with the Lake Minneola - Clermont Trail to the northeast that will eventually connect to the West Orange Trail and the Orlando area network to the east.
Review Coming Soon
3.1 miles – roughly Clermont to Minneola. Travels predominately north. Will eventually connect to the General James Van Fleet Trail to the southwest and to the Orlando area network via the West Orange Trail the east.