Top Rides in Southeast Florida


The vast expanse of the Everglades and the pressures of development may limit the space available to Southeast Florida's bikers, but the area presents interesting alternatives that make biking one of the area's most popular activities. Here, GORP presents three distinct off-roading adventures for bikers in Southeast Florida — GORP

I had already made my way to West Palm Beach when I walked into a bike shop and learned that some locals, at least, don't consider themselves a part of south Florida. Back at my aunt's condo, I pulled the atlas out again and determined that for my purposes, I was in south Florida. I guess the guy I was talking to felt that the 140 miles of keys bending into the waters off Cape Florida (called the Conch Republic) were "south." With apologies to those who feel otherwise, south Florida begins in this guide on an imaginary line drawn from Tampa in the west to Melbourne in the east.

Much of the land available for off-road biking in this area lies close to the coast. Lake Okeechobee's 730 square miles and expanse of the Everglades necessarily limit the places where much riding can be done. It pretty much has been that way ever since the days when the Spanish explorers first sighted land in the early sixteenth century. Henry Flagler, however, funded the building of a railroad that changed this region into a vacation land unsurpassed by almost anyplace in the world.

Flagler's plan was to lay the track to the hotels he built. The genius of his idea was made apparent with the rapid growth of what can be described as a giant city stretching from Miami in the south to West Palm Beach in the north; it's not all that wide, but it surely is long. Add to this the almost uninterrupted development on the Keys, and urban sprawl becomes defined with south Florida's picture.

Although this dense development has had conflicts with providing trails where the biker can get off-road, local governments—most notably Broward County—have begun providing single-track, built in cooperation with local bike clubs. Of course, the Everglades remain the region's most spectacular geographic feature, and the federal government has made some attempts to open up sections of this wilderness to biking.

South Florida on the Atlantic, in spite of incredible pressures, still manages to keep some of its natural beauty. Golf courses (more courses than anywhere else in America) and tennis courts (over 7,700 facilities) take their share of what's left. Condos creep into the land, butting against the green horizon of sugar cane growing in the black muck of former sawgrass. But today, with bicycling being Florida's second most popular outdoor recreation, it is not uncommon for the sawgrass to part as the wide tires of a mountain bike make their way through.


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