Before You Go:
There is water at the Floral City Trailhead and a short distance south; the next source for water is further south at the Croom Rital Road Trailhead. The only rest room facilities located on the trail are at the Floral City and Croom Rital Road trailheads. There are probably facilities at Lake Townsend Regional park but they are not visible from the trail if they do exist. During the hot and humid summer months, carrying along some water to stay hydrated. Always wear a helmet, some gloves to cushion your hands and, if you venture along the River Path, insect repellant is advised.
I began this leg of the trail from the Floral City Trailhead. From the north or south, take US Highway 41/County Road 45. If approaching from the north, the trailhead is on your left just before you reach the traffic light at East Orange Avenue (Country Road 48). If approaching from the south, the trailhead is on your right just past the intersection of US 41 & County Road 48. There is not a direct route into Floral City from west. From the east follow County Road 48 west and make a right onto US 41. Again, the trailhead will be on your right just past the US 41 & CR 48 intersection.
The trail itself is well maintained and it is relatively flat. For being such a rural trail, there are quite a few road crossings. I counted 13 separate road crossings on my way south along the trail. Granted some of them are rather minor crossings but, on the weekends, it seems that roads in this area are favored by motorcycle groups heading up from the Tampa Bay area to the south.
This section is about 26.5 miles in the form of a loop from Floral City south to Mile Marker 10 North (Mile Marker 36 South) and back to Floral City and includes a short ride along the River Path to the banks of the Withlacoochee River.
Immediately heading south, you cross County Road 48 which is Orange Avenue. Floral City is one of those towns along the trail that seems to have embraced the biking culture. If one has time, it is worth the effort to support the businesses in this beautiful Florida town.
Not very far south of the CR 48 crossing, you will see a water fountain on the west side of the trail. From the research I did, I believe this is the location of a point along the the railroad where they would start blowing the train’s whistle to announce its approach.
I wasn’t able to save a lot of the pictures I took heading south on this leg of the trail. I failed to notice a smudge on the lens of my camera until, at some point along the ride, I absent mindedly cleaned the lens. I didn’t notice this problem until I got home and reviewed the photos. I could have retouched the photos but feel that is cheating.
As a reminder, any reference to a mile marker with a south designation, is the distance south from the northern terminus of the trail. Conversely, any reference to a mile marker with a north designation, is the distance north from the southern terminus of the trail.
South of Mile Marker 28 South, you will see a rest area on the western side of the trail marking the Nobleton Train wreck. According to the placard, on the morning of October 18th, 1956, two trains collided head-on. People within a 5 mile radius of the site heard the collision which occurred around 5:12 in the morning.
Before reaching the Magnon Drive crossing, you will see the the line marking your passing from Citrus County into Hernando County.
Between Mile Markers 30 South and 31 South, you will see the signs announcing Lake Townsend Regional Park. It seemed to be a popular point of departure for the trail. I saw several groups of cyclists heading both north and south out of the park the morning I rode by.
Soon after Mile Marker 31 South, you will cross Edgewater Avenue. Because of the spacing of the mile markers and roads along this portion of the trail, it seemed I had more stops than any other portion of the trail. Just sayin’…
One of the many trees that line the trail, a beautiful specimen of the dogwood appears just before you reach mile marker 33 south.
As you pass south of Mile Marker 33 south and before you reach mile marker 35 south, you will notice the terrain lining both sides of the trail will become very swampy. If you linger in this area, insect repellant is highly recommended.
Next up, the Croom Road Trailhead. There is a small pavillion on the east side of the trail and a unisex restroom facility on the west side of the trail before you reach the Croom Road crossing. Just across the Croom Road, on the west side of the trail, you will see a sign with attendant map of the dirt bike trails through the Croom Tract. Just beyond that, stop and take a quick look at the Red Cedar which, actually, is a juniper (according to the placard).
It isn’t long before you reach the turn-around point at Mile Marker 36 South. Turning back north, in quick succession you pass Mile Markers 10 North, 11 North and 12 North.
The highlight of this section was the short trip along the River Path which runs a short distance to the east off the main trail to the banks of the Withlacoochee River. It was a nice serene spot. These pictures represent a small fraction of the pictures I took along this picturesque spot.
Relunctantly leaving the River Path behind, you soon reach Mile Marker 13 North and found these flowers lining the trail in this section. If anyone knows the name, please feel free to share with us in the comments section!
Mile Marker 14 North is up next and, shortly thereafter, you reach Edgewater Avenue. Of course, the obligatory picture of one of the old railroad markers lining the trail is include.
The view from Mile Marker 15 North follows along with the crossing at County Road 476 which is Lake Lindsey Road. After that, the Mile Marker 16 North vantage point.
Before you reach the Magnon Drive crossing, you will see what seems to be a hand made bridge on the west side of the trail. I thought it interesting with its rails made of tree limbs.
Just past Magnon Drive, you enter the small town of Istachatta. It seems to be a popular rest stop for cyclists along the trail. It is definitely a lovely little spot and gives you an idea of small town Florida.
Heading out of Istachatta, you reach Peterson Camp Road. Just after the road crossing, on the east side of the trail, you will see a fine specimen of the Live Oaks that are common throughout central and northern Florida.
Soon you are crossing back into Citrus County from Hernando County before reaching Mile Marker 17 North. There are several unnamed road crossings through this area but the trail has right of way over these small roads.
Reaching Mile Marker 18 North, you will cross New Hope Court followed by County Road 39 South (Istachatta Road).
Be on the lookout for another fine tree specimen on the east side of the trail. You will see a sweetgum tree with a placard describing the tree. Beyond that, you cross another unnamed road before crossing County Road 39 again which will be followed by Mile Marker 20 North.
If you’ve been paying attention, you will see that you’ve crossed Istachatta Road several times. It will meander one final time across the trail before you reach Mile Marker 21 North.
You are now approaching the outskirts of Floral City and the road crossings become even more frequent. First up, Floral Park Drive and Bayberry Lane crossings followed in quick succession by Mile Marker 22 North and Tower Trail.
Just before you reach Mile Marker 23 (the actual halfway point between the northern and southern terminus of the trail), you will see some signposts directing you to where certain establishments are located in Floral City.
Not far from Mile Marker 23 North, you will be back at the starting point of this trek. Be sure to visit Hampton’s Edge and take note of the displays that the Floral City Garden Club made on the south side of Orange Avenue.
Another fine ride along the Withlacoochee State Trail. If you are looking for a fast course, this probably isn’t the best portion of the trail for you. If, like me, you dig the natural aspects of these trails, be sure to include a trip out to the River Path – you won’t be disappointed.
Happy Trails ~ John