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Lake Butler to Palatka by Bike

by Terry Martin-Back

The Good Life Community is a cycling community with many excellent trails available for your pleasure. The Rails-to-Trails projects have made many of us to get off the couch and onto the saddle of a bicycle. Lake Butler to Palatka is one of those trails that has limited elevation changes and offers the opportunity for the new rider to get out and enjoy the trail.

The Lake Butler trail head has ample parking, restroom facilities and a picnic area. The trail travels through the heart of Lake Butler and leads you down a tree canopied path for about five miles and abruptly ends on a local county road.

It was an early Sunday morning when a friend and I rode the trail and the two-mile ride north to get on SR 100. We didn’t have a single car pass us in either direction, so it was a smooth ride. As we crossed the New River bridge on SR 100, into Bradford County, the smooth shoulder in Union County transitioned into a well-worn chip seal shoulder, which made for a very rough twelve-mile ride into Starke. The next twelve miles on the shoulder, into Keystone Heights, was smooth, we were ready to get away from the traffic and find the trailhead.

I recommend Keystone Heights to be your start point of ride to Palatka. The next twenty-five miles offers scenic views of woods, lakes and wetlands. The trail is smooth, twelve feet wide and offers plenty of space for riders, runners, skaters and hikers to pass. The next trail head is in Florahome, (Anticipation Station Trail head). It’s almost an eleven-mile ride from Keystone Heights and offers a picnic area and an outdoor restroom. There are a couple stores across the road from the station if you needed additional supplies to continue your ride.

From the Florahome trail head, it’s seventeen miles to Palatka and the road parallels SR 100 with numerous opportunities to walk to the highway if you had mechanical problems. There are several streams to be crossed and the bridges are all smooth paved surfaces for your comfort. The trail does not go into Palatka, it ends abruptly about a mile north of the city and if you wanted to continue your ride into Saint Augustine, you will be on the shoulder of SR 100 for about two miles until to catch the bike trail through Palatka. I highly recommend this trail for the new and experienced cyclist. Before you head out on the trail, make sure you carry enough water, snacks and a cell phone, whether you are riding by your self or with a cycling partner. Be safe, get out and enjoy the abundant cycling trails within our Good Life Community.

Trail Opens 8 Till Dusk
FloridaStateParks.org 352-473-4701