Santos: Some Of The Best Mountain Biking Trails In Florida
We decided to start running winter mountain bike tours in Florida to assist our biker friends with finding a wintertime option as they wait out the cold in their more northern states. Our upcoming tour in Santos is December 3rd thru 6th.
There are many great mountain bike trails in Florida, even though there is a distinct lack of mountains. Alafia near Brandon is always a favored location with some highly technical trails, but the trail with the most to offer for a weekend of riding is just South of Ocala. It is there that you can find where the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway meets up with the Santos and Vortex Area Bike Trails.
The area around Ocala is famous for its horse farms. The rolling landscape is somewhat unusual for Florida, but the most striking element that crosses the landscape is the remnants of the ill-fated Cross-Florida Barge Canal. The Canal was going to split Florida in half allowing shippers from the Gulf states and Mexico a safe passage to the Atlantic Ocean. Early Spanish and British settlers had dreamed of a canal that would save time, energy and lives that were lost in the Florida Straits. The Canal was an enormous project that started and stopped a few times beginning in 1935. Millions of dollars and hours of labor were invested in planning, digging and dredging up the area. It wasn't until the late 60’s that it became apparent that the Canal project would ultimately fail, partly because of the tireless work of environmentalist Marjorie Harris Carr.
Because of the work of Harris Carr, Florida now has unique Sea-to-Sea trail that follows the path paved by the canal construction which welcomes hikers, horses and mountain bikers. The trail elements left over from the canal make for great inclines, mounds and dips along with leftover cement blocks that were used as ballast for cranes. Now a mountain biker can enjoy a 50-mile mountain bike ride on mostly single-track, an envious length even for nationally known trails.
Along with the Greenway, there is the Santos and Vortex Area Bike Trails. The two trail systems grew up alongside of one another with differing goals. One, Santos, is known for flowing single track with technical trails that challenge riders, but keep the ride going. The other, Vortex, is a trials rider’s dream. A large quarry has been converted into a trick-riding mountain bike park with jumps, drops and pump tracks that only the most skilled and daring riders would attempt. The quarry is surrounded by other trails that are more manageable, but still a load of fun. Recently, Ray Petro, a famous indoor bike trail designer has made the area his pet project. Working with the Ocala Mountain Bike Association, Petro has designed some exciting trail elements that help make the area world class in its appeal.
Whether you go in the winter or summer, the Cross Florida Greenway, Santos Area Bike Trail and Vortex Area Bike Trail are great mountain biking destinations. We hope to make it a regular winter tour for Mulberry Gap with the same great food and hospitality that you come to expect from us. Find out more about the tour here.