St. Augustine, FL to Key West, FL
1 Map Set (530.0 mi.)
| GPS | Overview
Florida Connector Overview Image
|1. St. Augustine, FL to Key West, FL (533.5 mi.)||Detail
Florida Connector Section 1 Detail Image
The Florida Connector creates the opportunity for two loop routes in Florida that are ideal for cycling December through March. It joins the Atlantic Coast Route, Section 7, in St. Augustine and Ft. Lauderdale creating the first loop option. A second loop encompassing Fort Lauderdale, Key West, and Fort Myers Beach via a ferry is also possible.
Florida has an extensive though sometimes confusing network of bicycling facilities ranging from 2-foot bike lanes or shoulders to separated bike paths and sidewalks. Some stretches are better suited to sidewalk cycling due to moderate to heavy traffic; in other areas sidewalks will be pedestrian use only. The approach to often nearly invisible short bridges are usually marked with "frogs", "buttons", "turtles", "slugs" or rumble strips.
Heading south from St. Augustine mostly on SR A1A, the route alternates between urban and suburban conditions along the coast until it swings west at Bulow Creek State Park and Plantation Ruins Historic State Park. You will wind your way through many lakes and sinkholes. Sometimes you'll see huge trucks filled with oranges, and you may even see a live (or dead) armadillo along the side of the road. In the Orlando area, you'll experience the mind-boggling traffic and myriad services associated with Disney World. The route is only five miles away from the main entrance. Continuing south, it's more swamps, farms, and orange groves.
You begin to leave the heavy traffic behind when you ride onto the pleasant bike path south then east leaving Fort Myers. If you are heading to Fort Myers Beach, the path continues almost all the way to the bridge into the tourist seaside town, where you can dip your bike tire in the Gulf of Mexico.
Traveling east from Fort Myers, you once again leave the tourist corridor behind and have a chance to encounter the more residential and rural aspects of Florida. There is ample evidence of the development to come by the presence of the planned community, Lehigh Acres. Between LaBelle and Clewiston your companions will mostly be birds and reptiles. Services through this swampland are few and far between. Alligators tend to fear humans but give them a wide berth anyway. The route skirts the southern banks of Lake Okeechobee and access is available to ride around it on a path built by the Corps of Engineers. The route into Fort Lauderdale returns you to more urban riding conditions and the connection with the Atlantic Coast Route near the airport.
Photo by Adam Coppola
Generally the terrain is either rolling or flat.
Services are plentiful in the urban areas but can be scarce in residential/suburban and rural areas. This route may be ridden all year round. Caution: the hurricane season is from June 1 to November 1.