It’s hot here. And it’s only going to get hotter—which makes me very grateful to the inventor of air conditioning. But, being outdoor enthusiasts, we still need to get out. Last summer we attempted to ride the entire Withlacoochee State Trail in small sections–a different trailhead every week and eventually we made it to the Ridge Manor trailhead in Hernando County. We concluded that adventure with riding from Inverness to Floral City in the annual Rails to Trails Bike Ride last October.
Terry and I haven’t taken our bikes out on the trails since then, so we decided to go to the newest trailhead in Citrus County just south of Dunnellon. We left quite early since Dunnellon is about a 50 minute drive for us and we were trying to beat the heat. Maggie’s age is starting to slow her down a bit she has a tough time in our hot and humid summer—even riding in Terry’s bike basket. But she likes to go so we got there at about 7:30 am and the temperature was already close to 80.
We started from the CR 39 trailhead in Citrus County which is right off of US 41. There are plenty of parking spaces and the landscaping is very nice. The only thing missing is a real restroom but there is a porta potti. (And that porta potti was NASTY!)
The 2 ½ mile trail is paved, primarily flat and partially shaded. Some areas have wide grassy berms and others run through the forest where we could see cypress trees standing in water—prime alligator territory. (No, Maggie, you have to stay in the basket, you’d be a sweet white meat treat for those hungry gators.)
The trail opened in May 2014 after the bridge over the Withlacoochee River was completed. We were amazed at the bridge—it’s huge.
There are several observation decks to pull onto to admire the river and surrounding forest. It really is a beautiful view.
I love bridges–Maggie not so much. We did offer to let her down out of the basket to walk with us over the bridge, but she politely declined.
Our turnaround was at the trailhead in Marion County—equally as nice as the one in Citrus County with a lot of parking but again, no restroom. (And I didn’t even go near that porta potti)
While the ride was lovely, it was a little short even for us. The Gulf Junction trailhead on the Withlacoochee State Trail is just around the corner from the Dunnellon trailhead and Citrus County has approved a feasibility study to find the best connection for the two trailheads. No time frame yet, but I’ll be eagerly waiting for them to “close the gap”.