Nearly laser straight, the General James A. Van Fleet State Trail has only 1 curve in its entire 29+ mile length. Seriously…check out the ride map below. It’s almost flat, too — less than 5 feet of elevation change per mile. For comparison, my South Lake Trail ride showed more than 42 feet per mile elevation change.
Designated a National Recreation Trail, this trail is one of the most rural paved rail-trails in Florida. Riding straight through the huge Green Swamp and the Richloam Wildlife Management Area, I was almost totally removed from the mechanized sounds of mankind. No riding alongside any roadways in this upper section. No distant traffic, air boats, or even aircraft. It’s mostly birdsong in the background.
Deer, alligators, gopher tortoises and birds of many feathers were plentiful. And even though the land is quite flat, there are a variety of natural communities, from classic Florida swamps to pine forests to cattle ranches. This really helps keep the monotony of flat and straight at bay.
I wanted to ride the most remote section, so I started at the Green Pond Road Trailhead and rode north. I was not disappointed with my choice, but all trailheads are listed at the bottom of the page, in case one is more convenient for you than another. Personally, I’m out here for the connection to nature first and the enjoyment/health of riding second, but if you’re looking to set your own personal best speed record, this would be the place to do it. Besides being straight and flat, there are very few intersections to worry about, so you can roll flat out for miles.
The video and maps below show the story of my ride. If you have the opportunity, I do recommend riding this trail. If you’re looking for other things to do in the magnificent Green Swamp, check out Colt Creek State Park. Looking for other things to do around the state? See Where-to-Go and my Bucket List for great places to experience Florida’s Natural Wonders all over the state, including hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding and more.
Polk City Trailhead (Polk County) – 7683 Berkley Road, Polk City, FL 33968 – GPS Coordinates N28⁰ 10.867 W081⁰49.662
Bay Lake Trailhead (Lake County) – 7500 Bay Lake Road, Groveland, FL 34736 – GPS Coordinates N28⁰ 27.328 W081⁰55.347
Mabel Trailhead (Sumter County) – 7981 CR 772 Webster, FL 35597 – GPS Coordinates N28⁰ 34.711 W081⁰58.597