Cycling in Wakulla County – Connecting Florida’s Capital City to the Gulf Coast

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How many areas give you the opportunity to cycle past astonishingly diverse scenery, all within a few miles of each other? Where else can you travel from white, sandy coastlines to ecologically intricate marshlands to dense, wooded forests to small, historical coastal towns? When you embark on a cycling adventure in Wakulla County, you can immerse yourself in all of these experiences and take in even more of the unique natural beauty of this region.

Over the past several years, many local organizations and governmental agencies have been working together to improve cycling access, trail heads and amenities throughout Wakulla County. As a result, over 30 miles of paved, off-road cycling paths have been introduced since 2012. The goal is to connect all of the towns, parks, areas of interest and cycling amenities in the County with each other via off-road paths, and link Wakulla County cycling trails to those in Leon, Franklin, and Jefferson counties.

The Ochlockonee Bay Bike Trail (OBBT) was the first trail to be completed in Wakulla County as part of this initiative, and it runs through 12-miles of marshes, gulf beaches, and forests beginning at Mashes Sands and ending in the City of Sopchoppy. It’s a great starting point for cycling in Wakulla County, and gives you a chance to see the beautiful vistas from the Gulf of Mexico, the wildlife of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the historic Sopchoppy train depot. Round trip is 24 miles.

The St. Marks Trail is another popular option for cyclists. It entails 16 miles of paved, off-road trail that begins in Leon County and meanders down to the St. Marks River in Wakulla County, which is a perfect location for resting, refreshments, wildlife watching and nature photography. Round trip is 32 miles.

The Capital City to Sea Loop (CC2S) is poised to revolutionize cycling in Wakulla County. Once it is completed it will stretch from Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, all the way to the Wakulla County Gulf Coast, giving Tallahassee cyclists unprecedented access to cycling trails throughout our area. The first segment in Wakulla County is complete with 12 miles of paved off-road trail. It begins at the St. Marks Trail intersection of Coastal Highway (US 98) and Woodville Highway (US 61) and ends in front of Wakulla High School and provides a glimpse at native flowers and wildlife, including a bridge spanning the Wakulla River. Along this segment you will find hotels, restaurants, shelter and refreshments. Round trip is 24 miles.

Following this, work will commence on a section of the CC2S that will take travelers through parts of the lush Apalachicola National Forest and the quaint waterfront town of Panacea, eventually connecting with the OBBT. When all is complete, cycling enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a safe and relaxing ride between Tallahassee and diverse areas of interest in Wakulla County while enjoying rest areas and amenities throughout the journey.

Cycling is one of the best ways to experience many of the natural delights of Wakulla County, and these trails and initiatives are made possible by funding and partnerships with the Florida Department of Transportation, Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency, and Department of Environmental Protection. They, along with the citizens of Wakulla and surrounding counties and local organizations, are working to make cycling in our region more accessible, safe, and rewarding for everyone.

This article was featured in the Autumn 2018 edition of the Messenger from the Florida Bicycle Association.