Before You Go:
This isn’t an overly long loop. From the north end to south end of Boca Grande is about 13 miles round trip. If you are doing the ride in the early morning or early evening hours, you can get by without any sunscreen.
Sunglasses are always a necessity along with a pair of riding gloves, helmet and – possibly – sunscreen during the mid-day hours.
Also, bring along at least $5.00 in cash. As of this writing, that is the fee for the Boca Grande Causeway. It is $2.00 by bicycle. I, personally, would not enjoy riding across the Boca Grande causeway. The bridges are very narrow and there is no designated cycling lane.
I took Interstate 95 South of the Jacaranda Boulevard Exit. I traveled south on Jacaranda Boulevard to its intersection with Highway 776. South on Highway 776 to its intersection with Highway 775 (Placida Road). South on Placida Road to its intersection with the Boca Grande Causeway. Along the Boca Grande Causeway to Gills Grocery and Deli. Handily there is an unused parking lot behind the Deli.
Leaving from the Deli parking lot, the trail doesn’t actaully start at this point. You must first travel south along the sidewalk a short distance. Don’t be like me and speed read signs along the trail. There is a sand walking path that runs parallel to the trail for quite a way. I misread one of the signs posted and thought it to mean that the paved portion of the path was for the golf carts that are prevalent on the island. I had to laugh at myself after struggling along the sand path for quite a ways before reading the sign correctly. Don’t let this happy to you.
Not too far south along the trail, there is a nice little viewing area with benches that will provide a fine view of Peekins Ranch Cove (that is the label on Google Maps – if this is incorrect, please post a correction in the comments).
The northern portion mostly spins through residential areas that are separated from the main trail by lovely hedgerows. The are quite a few crossings but, for the most part, very few cars were out on the road in the early morning hours.
Once you reach 5th Street, you will be getting into the main business district for Boca Grande.
The business district of Boca Grande is quite charming. It has an old fishing village feel to it. It was nice to see them retain a small portion of the old railroad bed along one of the buildings lining the trail.
Unlike many business districts, exercise caution through Boca Grande’s district, it is quite busy with pedestrians, cars, golf carts and other cyclists.
Just south of the main business district, the trail turns to the west. You will see the Boca Grande Community Center to the north and the Boca Bay subdivision running along the south side of the trail.
You aren’t traveling west long before you turn south again to ride parallel to Gulf Drive. As anyone knows who follows my blog, I have a love of bridges. Boca Grande provided another love of mine – lighthouses. The island boasts two lights. For me, the better of the two is the Boca Grande Range Light.
Near the lighthouse, I happened upon this Osprey tending its nest. It is quite a magnificent bird that makes homes in dead trees and atop power poles across the state of Florida.
The trail continues south from the Boca Grande Range Light to the second lighthouse on the island. At the southern end of the island, the Boca Grande Lighthouse keeps watch over the Boca Grande Pass.
There is a $2.00 fee for bicycles entering the site. It is the honor system and I’m not sure where I was supposed to hang the tag. Perhaps from my handlebars?
There was a restored chapel just to the north of the lighthouse. I don’t know if it is ever opened to the public but it looks like they did a perfect job restoring the chapel. The are also quite a few boardwalks that run out to the Gulf of Mexico to the west of the chapel and lighthouse.
The lighthouse is well preserved. The museum wasn’t open the morning I was there but, because of the cold, I had the entire site to myself. Enjoy the pictures.
The Boca Grande Lighthouse being the southern terminus of the Boca Grande Bicycle Path, it was time to turn north and retrace the route back north. The designers of the trail did add in ample areas to stop and observe this beautiful island.
Of course, I couldn’t travel north and NOT stop and capture some more pictures of the Boca Grande Range Light.
With all this talk of lighthouses, I guess I should mention that the Range Light sits on Gasparilla Island State Park. It is a beautiful park with full facilities. It fronts along the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
Simple retracing our thread through the Boca Grande Business District back north, don’t be like me and have a brain cramp and miss the section where you turn back to the east. I easily got back on track and picked the trail back up and headed back to my starting point.
I did make a small side trip out to the Boca Grande fishing pier. It isn’t much to behold but it did give good views of the Boca Grand Causeway.
The Boca Grande Bicycle Path is a short jaunt but, what it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in scenery.
Happy Trails ~ John