Disclaimer: This 46-Mile Upper Tampa Trail and Tampa Bay Causeway Tour recap contains affiliate links…

 

Finding the Perfect Route

At least one bike ride while visiting family in Florida was a must and I left designing the route in the capable hands of my husband Bill. After a little research, he landed on a route that would take us on two trails, one wooded and similar to our trails at home, and one along Tampa Bay.

We drove to Citrus Park, Florida to the trailhead of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail where we found ample parking in a gravel lot edged by lush ferns. Even though it was a Monday morning, some sort of event was going on with two ladies checking cyclists/runners in on a huge chart. We chatted with them for a couple of minutes and they warned us of the horrible hill we’d soon be climbing (it ended up being a 4% grade where the trail crossed a road LOL).

Ten miles into our ride, we connected to the Courtney Campbell Trail. At this point we followed our GPS directions for about four miles through residential and industrial streets until we turned onto the nine-mile long path on the causeway at Tampa Bay. Once at the end of the causeway, we turned and reversed our route back to the parking lot.

Our first significant outdoor ride since riding from Key Largo to Key West, it seemed appropriate to break out our Conch Republic Mile 0 jerseys we’d picked up at the end of our epic adventure in January.

 

Reunited and it Feels so Good

We didn’t need to rent bikes or travel with our own because last summer when we upgraded our gravel bikes to our Cannondale Topstones, we gave our old Salsas (mine was the Journeyman) to our son and daughter-in-law. It felt so good to ride Zephyr (Salsa > Red Hot Chili Peppers > The Zephyr Song). She’s such a perfect fit for me – I upgraded for a lighter carbon frame and electronic shifters.

We took our Garmins (affiliate link) and Varia radars (affiliate link), and the respective mounts; however, I didn’t take my pedals and used the flats we’d put on when gifting the bike. As a result, I left my bike shoes at home and wore regular sneakers.

 

Ride Overview
  • • Ride With GPS Name: 46-UpperTampaBayCauseway
  • • Ride with GPS: Link to turn-by-turn navigation cue sheet
  • • Location: Hillsborough County, Florida
  • • Start/Finish: Citrus Park, Florida
  • • Course Type: Out and back
  • • Course Surface: Paved
  • • Distance: 46.61 miles
  • • Time: 3:27:48
  • • Average Speed: 13.6 MPH
  • • Maximum Speed: 23.8 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 479 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 7 to 125 feet
  • • Temperature Range: 72° to 82°
  • • Course Map:

 

Fun Pictures From Along the Way

The following pictures were taken either with my iPhone (affiliate link) or my husband’s iPhone (affiliate link) because we had forgotten to bring along our GoPro (affiliate link), our usual trusty cycling camera.

It was a beautiful morning for a ride starting at the Upper Tampa Bay Trail…

 

The early part of the trail was mostly shaded until we eventually crossed Rocky Creek and soon left the tree-lined trail for long stretches of open trail running along the creek and a canal…

 

The first restroom we found was about 4.5 miles into our ride at the Channel Park Pavilion where we stopped to refill our water bottles and grab a little fuel…

 

Glistening with sunscreen and zooming along the open trail…

 

First sign marking the Courtney Campbell Trail…

 

After seeing the sign for Courtney Campbell Trail, we rode through residential/industrial  areas for several miles before seeing this sign leading us onto the actual trail…

 

Riding along upper Tampa Bay on the causeway…

 

Zephyr with a beautiful blue backdrop…

 

Unlike riding across Seven Mile Bridge on our way to Key West, there was no need to have a death grip on my handlebars while 55 MPH traffic whizzed by because pedestrians and cyclists have their own bridge parallel to vehicular traffic…

 

Happily riding along without the worry of getting blown off the bridge by a car…

 

Smiling from the safety of my own bridge…

 

Taking a break on the beach along the causeway on the other side of the bridge…

 

Once we got to the end of the causeway and onto a sidewalk running along a very busy highway (no picture), we turned to finish the last half of our ride…

 

Stopped for a quick rest and picture of the trail sign…

 

LOL, this looks like photoshop gone very bad with my head getting pasted in front of my body. Anyway, we stopped for a selfie along the causeway…

 

Stopped at the overlook on top of the bridge on our return trip…

 

Luckily, we didn’t need to use this bike repair station, but it’s always nice to see them along trails…

 

Cruising…

 

We would have loved to stop to sip on a drink and get our feet wet at this adorable little tiki bar…

 

We stopped for a soda and Bill got a coconut flan at this little market. Oh how I wish one of these was in our neighborhood…

 

We realized right away that we had made a wrong turn, but took a picture of this lovely scene before getting back on the right trail…

 

No words…

 

Looking below the trail at a path where I’m pretty sure alligators were lurking at every turn…

 

Closing in on the end of our beautiful ride…

 

Garmin Stats

Post-ride Garmin (affiliate link) picture…

 

Garmin map and elevation graph…

 

Final Thoughts on the Ride

Bill and I had a lot of fun on our little adventure and it worked out well to go on Monday while our son and daughter-in-law were working since it took much of our day (including drive time). I would highly recommend this ride if you’re in the area, and hopefully, the kids will take the Salsas back for their own adventure.

 

Questions:
  • • Flatlanders, what do you think of 4% grades?
  • • Floridians, do you put much thought in running across an alligator when out on a run or bike ride?
  • • Do you stop and relax occasionally to fuel or take pictures, or barrel on through when on a long run or ride? ~ Both for me depending on the circumstances…