Florida Coast to Coast Bike Tour

The following is a detailed Florida coast to coast bike tour broken down into the six days it took our group to complete the ride.

Florida Coast to Coast Bike Tour

Pink = alternate route to avoid the Green Swamp


Touring Florida from the Atlantic Ocean to Tampa Bay

Within minutes of finishing our 2022 epic bike ride from North Key Largo to Key West, my Dawn Patrol friends and I were already planning our next adventure. A trip back to warm Florida in January sounded like a winner and when someone suggest riding the Coast to Coast Trail (C2C) across the width of Florida we were sold and the planning began.

The length of Florida’s C2C Trail takes riders past farmland, residential areas, small towns, and industrial areas. The mostly paved trail meanders through beautiful tree lined forests, open fields, and under canopies of Spanish moss; however, it often parallels busy highways, and at one point, even takes cyclists down their own lane in the center of a downtown street.

The C2C Trail is part of the Florida Greenways and Trails System, spanning across nine counties. Many trails join together to form the entire length of the C2C with only a few incomplete gaps.


BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike) is the Way to Go

After renting bikes on our previous Florida trip, the entire crew opted to bring our own bikes so there’d be no issues with incorrect sizing and adjustments resulting in painful body parts. One team member flew, two others took the auto train, and the rest of us drove. My husband I took advantage of our road trip by stopping over in Charlotte, NC and Saint Augustine, FL on the way down and Savannah, GA on the way home.

There was great discussion leading up to the ride on whether to bring our road or gravel bikes. The majority of the trails would be paved, but we were uncertain of the trail conditions in Merritt Island National Refuge on day 1 and the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve on day 4 where sections of the trails would be on sand and shells. Weather conditions leading up to our ride would determine how difficult it would be to navigate the sand. Erring on caution, most of us brought gravel bikes.


Planning and Logistics

Lots of planning by many people went into pulling off this adventure, specifically, our friend and Florida resident Chuck for overall logistics, my husband for route planning, and our friends Ed and Mary for sag support. Additionally, we hired the owner of a local Florida bike shop to meet us each morning at our hotel to pick up our luggage and shuttle it to our next hotel where it would be waiting for us when we rolled in for the day.


Even Good Planning Couldn’t Prevent Flats and Mechanical Issues

Out of eight cyclists, five of us had flats (some were reoccurring slow leaks), two had gearing issues, and three had unclipping problems when sand got stuck in their cleats. On the upside, no one got sick or injured.


Elevation, Wind, and Speed

Contrary to what many people think, Florida has some elevation and our ride took us from sea level at the Atlantic Ocean to 341 feet in Clermont (just shy of  Florida’s highest elevation). Surprisingly, we had two official climbs over the 290-mile trek, but both were less that a half mile in length and no more than a 6% elevation gain average.

Florida’s prevailing winds blow from east to west and we weren’t too proud to take advantage of a tailwind whenever possible. With that in mind, we planned our route from the Atlantic Ocean to Tampa Bay rather than riding in the reverse direction. Despite prevailing winds blowing from east to west, we faced headwinds on several occasions. Even though the trails were relatively flat, the wind made for harder work and slowed us down.


Wildlife Seen and Unseen

We rode several miles on our first day in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on Black Point Wildlife Drive. We encountered many people pulled over to the side of the sandy and shell-packed road with binoculars at their eyes looking at beautiful birds. On a few occasions we flushed out flocks of egrets, osprey, and other brightly colored birds as our bikes crunched the gravel along their nesting areas.

With visions of a 13-foot alligator blocking a trail, I was a bit apprehensive prior to the ride. Not only did we not have to cross an alligator log, we didn’t see any along the side of the trail either. Our two Florida friends reminded us that even though we may not have seen any alligators, plenty of alligators saw us.


Cameras Used During the Adventure

Other than a few pictures taken by our friends, most of the following pictures were taken with my iPhone; however, a special shoutout goes to my husband who captured some stunning pictures with his small Fujifilm camera and Insta360 he carries on our rides.


Day 1: Titusville to Playalinda Beach at Canaveral National Seashore to Titusville
  • • Ride with GPS Name/Link: FLC2C-Leg0Alt-26-TitusvilleParkingToPlayalinda
  • • Location: Titusville to Playalinda Beach at Canaveral National Seashore
  • • Course Type: loop with two tails
  • • Trails Ridden: Merritt Island National Refuge (full trail still in design stage)
  • • Course Surface: mix of hard packed sand, rough grassy double track, and pavement
  • • Distance: 37.31 miles
  • • Time: 2:58:43
  • • Average Speed: 12.5 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 302 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 12.5 to 25.9 feet
  • • Weather: 66° and mostly cloudy, climbing to 69°
  • • Ride with GPS Course Map:


Our group had two options for starting our coast-to-coast ride, start at Titusville or make it truly official and start at the Atlantic Ocean. Along with three other friends, my husband and I started at the ocean. Rather than getting driven to Playalinda Beach and rolling from there, my husband designed a route that took us from Titusville, across the Indian River and into the Merritt Island National Refuge before dipping our back wheels in the ocean on Playalinda Beach at Canaveral National Seashore.

The highlight of the ride was through the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge where we rode on sand and shell-packed Black Point Wildlife Drive before turning onto about five miles of difficult double track through tall grasses covering gnarly roots and dotted with knee-high ant hills. We saw lots of beautiful birds and ducks, but luckily, no alligators.


After exiting Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, we got back onto hard packed sand and rode through Canaveral National Seashore to Playalinda Beach.


Once at the far end of the loop at Playalinda Beach we dipped our back wheels in the Atlantic Ocean to mark the official start of our adventure.


We enjoyed a tailwind and faster speeds on the paved road back to Titusville where we completed day 1 of our Florida coast to coast bike tour.


From Titusville we drove to Hilton’s Tuscany Village in Orlando for two nights where we’d have a rest day before meeting the rest of our group.


Day 2: Titusville to Lake Mary
  • • Ride with GPS Name/Link: FLC2C-Leg1-51-TitusvilleLakeSt.MaryNorthCourtyard
  • • Location: Titusville to Lake Mary
  • • Course Type: point-to-point
  • • Trails Ridden: East Central Regional Rail Trail, Spring to Spring Trail, Seminole Wekiva Trail
  • • Course Surface: paved
  • • Distance: 52.48 miles
  • • Time: 4:03:04
  • • Average Speed: 13 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 554 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 9 to 165 feet
  • • Weather: 55° and sunny, climbing to 64°
  • • Ride with GPS Course Map:


Back at the Titusville Welcome Center, we said goodbye to our cars as we left them in the parking lot for the week while we rode toward the opposite side of the state. Only our sag vehicle would be accompanying us to carry rain gear, snacks, air pumps, tools, bikes, and even people if any of us needed a ride. Our friend Mary volunteered to drive the sag vehicle in exchange for the opportunity to ride about 30 miles per day while someone else drove.

Before starting our second day, we posed for our first official group photo. With a forecast that warned us of 11 MPH headwinds accompanying cooler than normal temps, we dressed appropriately.


The day’s ride took us past a little bit of everything the C2C Trail has to offer. Open fields…






Busy highways…


And Spanish moss canopies…


After a fun day riding with our entire Dawn Patrol crew we pulled into the Courtyard by Marriott Orlando Lake Mary North for the night.


Day 3: Lake Mary to Clermont
  • • Ride with GPS Name/Link: FLC2C-Leg2-38-LakeStMaryToClermontFairfield
  • • Location: Lake Mary to Clermont
  • • Course Type: point-to-point
  • • Trails Ridden: Seminole Wekiva Trail, West Orange Trail
  • • Course Surface: paved
  • • Distance: 37.54 miles
  • • Time: 2:54:42
  • • Average Speed: 12.9 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 1,093 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 41 to 341 feet
  • • Weather: 50° and partly cloudy, climbing to 63°
  • • Ride with GPS Course Map:


What started out as a quick day with shorter mileage turned longer than expected when three of our friends had issues with flats or slow leaks. We encountered several more stops than planned, and rather than having down time at the end of the day, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch at the Hangry Bison while a tire was being replaced.

The highlight of the day, though, was riding past Paint the Trail on Seminole-Wekiva Trail. Local artist Jeff Sonksen started painting murals, many with positive messages, about 12 years ago. Since it’s inception over 500 murals have been added to the fence.


Sag stops were usually every 10 to 15 miles and strategically placed near a restroom. 7-Elevens and drug stores were great locations giving us an opportunity to restock on sports drinks or snacks that we might not have in the sag vehicle.


Cruising and sort of twinning with my favorite cyclist…


Wild story behind this picture… My husband had stopped to take a picture of something near the lake behind this beautiful bougainvillea. I rode past, but stopped and turned just as he pointed to something near the pond and quietly said, “Look at that.” I assumed it was an alligator so I gingerly pushed my bike a few steps closer toward my husband. About that time a hawk flew toward and just over me with a long snake in its talons. The snake’s tail came very close to slapping me in the face as the hawk flew away with its prey.


One thing on the day’s agenda was to stop at the little bike shop owned by Bruce, the guy who was transporting our luggage each morning from one hotel to the next. He wasn’t there, but had left trail stickers and drinks for us.


At the end of the day, my Salsa Warbird felt quite welcomed at the Fairfield Inn in Clermont.


Day 4: Clermont to Brooksville
  • • Ride with GPS Name/Link: FLC2C-Leg3-71-ClermontGreenSwampFairfieldBrooksville
  • • Location: Clermont to Brooksville
  • • Course Type: point-to-point
  • • Trails Ridden: Van Fleet Trail, Logging Road
  • • Course Surface: mixture of wet sand, packed shells, and paved
  • • Distance: 73.61 miles
  • • Time: 6:13:11
  • • Average Speed: 11.8 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 1,220 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 57 to 308 feet
  • • Weather: 64° and rainy, clearing off and climbing to 77°
  • • Ride with GPS Course Map:


We knew this would be our most challenging day with rain in the forecast on our longest mileage day, 18 miles of which were across the Green Swamp on unknown surface conditions. We got lucky; however, and the rain moved out soon after we started riding.


Twenty-one miles into our ride we met up with our sag vehicle for the second time that morning. At this point, riders needed to make the decision on whether to ride through the swamp, take the paved detour which would add 12 miles to the day, or hitch a ride with Mary in the sag vehicle. In addition to her own bike on the back of her SUV, she had room for only two other riders’ bikes.

Two of our three friends who had opted to bring their road bikes chose to ride with Mary, but one hardy rider aired down his tires and joined us for the most adventuresome part of the entire 290-mile tour.


As we turned out of the park and onto the sandy road of the Green Swamp the going was good for the first quarter mile. It had rained the morning of the ride leaving the sandy road soft and similar to that of the ocean tide on its way out, not the packed sand of low tide, but that goopy period between fluffy loose sand and packed sand (fluffy loose sand would have been far worse).


As road conditions got worse the five of us quickly found ourselves spread out as we each worked to find the best way to navigate the thick mud-like sand. My husband and our speedy friend Ed were way ahead so the rest of us were surprised when we came upon them both bent over their bikes. Ed’s back tire not only had a flat, but had holes in the sidewall making it impossible to fix. My husband’s derailleur cable had snapped leaving him stuck in the second from the fastest gear. He was eventually able to move it one gear lower which is where it stayed for the next 100-plus miles.

And to add insult to injury, not only did we have no cell service, but rain moved back in while we were all stopped assessing the damage – that’s a raindrop on my husband’s Insta 360 lens.


The rain moved out and so did the three of us leaving Bill and Ed behind. We were happy to soon find the road conditions improve greatly to packed shell and sand, and even happier to get into an area with cell service so we could call sag support to come help our two stranded riders.


As we rode along, we met several beat up pickup trucks, many with hound cages in the back. The Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve is a 110,000 acre preserve that’s home to black bears, alligators, wild hogs, whitetail deer, a wide variety smaller mammals, and birds. With so many animals in the preserve it’s bound to be hunting season for something (deer and some sort of bird while we were there) and we could hear gunshots in the distance.

Eventually we rode through a camp ground filled with tents and campers and with at least ten porta potties spread out along the side of the road. And of course I took advantage of an available porta potty!


Like an oasis in the dessert, the Richloam General Store rose in the swamp. Mary had dropped off her two road-bike passengers here and was on her way to retrieve Bill and Ed when we met her on the sandy road. Expecting to be at the store for a while, we bought cheese, bread, crackers, peanut butter, etc. and had lunch while we waited. And yes, I bought a delicious pure sugar cane Dr. Pepper to go with my lunch.


I spent time inside the store getting to know Daisy the owner while telling her about my maternal grandparent’s country store.


Back outside, Mary arrived with her husband and said that Bill was riding in on his own. Shortly thereafter, we all cheered as he came single-speeding into the parking lot.

After giving the new arrivals time to eat, we continued on with our ride with another 35 or so miles to go.


Road conditions deteriorated again slightly, but got nowhere nearly as bad as they were for the first three miles in the swamp. Happy that my husband was able to ride his bike (and secretly happy that he was easier to keep up with in his single speed), we rode together for several miles.


Out of the eight Dawn Patrol members on the trip, four of us made it through the swamp on two wheels. Tom, on the far right, even managed to do so on his road bike.


About nine miles after leaving the swamp we found a water spigot at a park and washed as much mud and sand off of our bikes as we could. It was a great find and bikes sounded so much better without that grit on our gears and brakes.


With somewhat cleaner bikes we rode through a beautiful section of the trail where there had been a recent controlled burn for forest management.


We rode past what looked like race bib numbers glued to the pavement every few hundred yards (you can put a runner on a bike, but you can’t take the runner out of that cyclist). Curious as to why they were there, I eventually stopped to take a closer look.


By now our crew was spread all over the place. Bill had ridden and Ed had driven ahead to a bike shop in hopes of getting their bikes repaired. Mary, Chuck, and I were riding together when we heard a loud hiss as her back tire instantly went flat.

Fortunately, Mary’s husband wasn’t too far away at the bike shop with their car and was able to drive back to a nearby trail/road intersection to pick her up.


After Mary was picked up, Chuck and I continued on until we met Bill waiting for us outside the bike shop… the bike shop that said they could work on his bike at some point the following day if he could leave it there. Without that kind of time luxury, he continued on in a single gear.

We rode through a lot of trail construction and took a detour hoping to cross the busy highway on the newly constructed bridge we could see overhead. Unfortunately, when we got to the entrance we discovered that it was still closed and had to go back and cross at the intersection.


Finally out of the construction area, we rode on a wide completed trail the last few miles to our hotel. We rolled into Fairfield Inn Brooksville just before dark exhausted, but super pumped to have completed our toughest day.


Day 5: Brooksville to Tarpon Springs
  • • Ride with GPS Name/Link: FLC2C-Leg4-51-FairfieldBrooksvilleToHamptonInnTarponSprings
  • • Location: Brooksville to Tarpon Springs
  • • Course Type: point-to-point
  • • Trails Ridden: Suncoast Trail, Starkey Wilderness Trail, Tri-County Trail, Pinellas Trail
  • • Course Surface: paved with dirt near the end
  • • Distance: 51.14 miles
  • • Time: 3:40:36
  • • Average Speed: 13.9 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 600 feet
  • • Elevation Range: -11 to 121 feet
  • • Weather: 61°, mostly cloudy and windy, dropping to 58°
  • • Ride with GPS Course Map:


I woke up as yet another team member to succumb to flat tire fever. I’d aired down my tire slightly for the swamp the previous day, but it was perfectly fine when I rolled in from the ride. While doing my morning stretches and exercises in our hotel room I glanced over and noticed that it was completely flat.

Once outside, my husband added Orange Seal and had me ride around the parking lot to distribute the sealant by spinning, but my tire was flat before I completed one circle. Luckily, Ed had a spare tube and the guys were able to get me back rolling in no time.


Our first notable stop was at the Spirit Tree where hundreds of wind chimes have been placed in memory of loved ones. The sweet sound of the chimes could be heard from quite a distance as we approached the tree.


Eventually, the trail turned from peaceful and quiet to loud as it paralleled a busy highway. Most annoying was the constant beeping from our Garmin’s as our Varia radars picked up the movement of cars behind us. We eventually disconnected our radars until we got past that segment of the trail.


We finally turned away from the highway and onto the beautiful Starkey Trail where we immediately found restrooms and filtered water.


Our group had spread out by the time we reached Starkey Market for lunch so it was a great place to regroup. In addition to food and gifts sold in the building pictured below, beer and wine were available in an adjacent building, and casual gourmet food could be purchased from their very own food truck.


Before leaving the market, we posed for a group picture with our two guest riders who’d joined us for two days.


Back on the trail we faced ferocious headwind, something that plagued us for much of the trip.


Once we arrived in the cute little town of Tarpon Springs the trail split the street in half.


We stopped in at Tarpon Tom’s Bike Shop where we found fantastic customer service at very reasonable prices. The shop was super busy, but when the owner Jan learned that we were doing the coast to coast ride, he stopped what he was working on to replace Bill’s derailleur cable so we could continue on with our ride.


Once we left the bike shop, we encountered a road closure that hadn’t been there when our Ride with GPS route was planned. Oh well, if we could ride through the Green Swamp we could ride across this packed dirt, and considering it was a Saturday, the road crews had the day off. Besides, our gravel bikes were itching for some more off-road action!


Well, maybe not this road bike, but Terry did just fine.


After an eventful day, we pulled into the Hampton Inn Tarpon Springs for the night.


Day 6: Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg
  • • Ride with GPS Name/Link: FLC2C-Leg5-38-HamptonTarponSprToStPeteCourtyard
  • • Location: Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg
  • • Course Type: point-to-point
  • • Trails Ridden: Pinellas Trail
  • • Course Surface: paved
  • • Distance: 38.72 miles
  • • Time: 2:45:48
  • • Average Speed: 14 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 656 feet
  • • Elevation Range: -18 to 112 feet
  • • Weather: 52° and overcast with a few rain showers, climbing to 55°
  • • Ride with GPS Course Map:


The coldest day of the tour, I never fully warmed up. Luck was with me when I made a last minute decision to pull my winter gloves out of my bag just before our luggage was taken to the next hotel. And even though my fingers were toasty warm, my torso and arms were only warm if I rode hard.

The highlight of the day’s ride was an incredibly cool spiral walkway in Clearwater. It’s not part of the coast-to-coast trail system, but my husband added to our route because of it’s novelty.


Even though we hit the Latin Bowl only two hours after the start of our ride and weren’t really hungry, the wonderful aroma coming from that tiny little restaurant convinced my husband and me to share a chicken bowl.


Overall, the trail was rather boring when compared to the previous five days. Much of the day’s trails took us through industrial areas with lots of stopping at intersections.


Even though much of the day’s route paralleled the Gulf of Mexico, the gulf wasn’t our end destination. We would eventually head back east to St. Petersburg where we would end our journey at Tampa Bay.


We didn’t let the cold and drizzle stop us from celebrating finishing our ride, though. We took plenty of time to capture some memories, first with a picture of my husband and me, and then with the entire team.


Absolutely freezing after hanging out at the pier in wind and drizzle for over an hour, I was thrilled to get into a warm shower at the Courtyard by Marriott St. Petersburg Downtown. Later, we met our friends for dinner and drinks celebrating our 290-mile ride across Florida.


Retrieving Our Cars

The following morning, those of us who had left our cars back in Titusville loaded up in a rented van and made our way back across Florida on four wheels rather than two. Packed in a passenger van, we felt like we were on our way to run a Ragnar event!


Final Thoughts on the Ride

Even though we were in Florida, it wasn’t as warm as we’d hoped, but at least it was warmer than back home in Virginia where it was snowing. The C2C has very lovely sections, but overall it isn’t the prettiest of trails. Because it crosses the state it lacks water views, but we knew that going into the ride. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and loved spending time with my friends; however, this was a once and done tour.


  • • Have you tried bike touring, with or without sag support? ~ This was our second time (we did North Key Largo to Key West two years ago). We have Pittsburgh to DC on the Gap Trail and the C&O Canal on our radar for this spring.
  • • Have you ever seen a hawk flying overhead with a snake in its talons? ~ I actually have twice: while on this trip and once in our back yard.
  • • Do you stop and relax occasionally to fuel or take pictures, or barrel on through when on a long run or ride? ~ Pictures, always pictures, unless I’m racing!


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