On our annual mid-March trip to Deltona, Florida this year I found a gem of a rail trail. It’s true, I write mostly about my home state of New Jersey, but my intent has always been to expand my adventures. So, when I find a good trail in another state it will likely show up on Rail Trail Touring. Anyway, my father in law has several bikes available for anyone to use (I enjoyed putting one of the drivetrains into better shape) and I really wanted to do some riding. The thought had crossed my mind that there might be some rail trails in the area since Florida has many, and they’re building more all the time. (Why isn’t New Jersey engaged in more rail trail conversions and additions?) So I consulted the Trail Link app and found one of the crown jewels of rail trails in the state: The East Central Regional Rail Trail…and only a 10-minute drive away!
Some photos from the trail near the Deltona end
‘Old Florida’ From Volusia To Canaveral
It’s of considerable length, too, running from Thornby Park in Deltona all the way to just north of Titusville some 50 miles away. In fact, it is the longest such ‘rails to trails” conversion in Florida to date. That provides a great opportunity for some incredible bike trips through ‘Old Florida’, not to mention some stellar Florida landscape. There’s quite a lot of history associated with this former rail corridor as well; its many fine appointments include kiosks telling about its railroad past in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and in good detail. There are also inns and lodges along the way and the Old Florida towns on the route like Deltona and Osteen are reinventing themselves, creating a “new vibe” for visitors while maintaining their historic character.
The East Central Regional Rail Trail is very well appointed, too, probably one of the best in my trail trail riding experience. This particular corridor was purchased by the state of Florida years ago when its railroad days came to an end and leased to Volusia and Brevard Counties specifically for building a trail for residents and visitors to enjoy. So they had the intention and the money to do it right. It’s great when states realize the potential for reusing old rail corridors and creating not only a green alternative transportation route but one that promotes healthy recreation and ‘outdoor tourism’.
The Way of The Future
And this is the future, folks—adapting disused railroad right of ways and canal corridors to connect towns and communities via trails. There are bills currently in Congress that will provide the funding on a large scale for building the nation’s trail network utilizing these old routes. And, in doing so our railroad and canal waterway history is preserved so it’s a big win all around. If you’re in Volusia and Brevard Counties I hope you’ll take a ride on this trail. The lush Florida landscape it courses through provides great scenery for cycling while the towns and accommodations can make for a fun extended bike trip.