Cycling in the Florida Keys

by Ian Farquharson, Demand Media

    The Florida Keys comprise a group of islands forming a gentle arc from the southern tip of the Florida peninsula to Key West. The islands extend to a length of around 150 miles, with the Overseas Highway, which carries U.S. Route 1, linking them together. Cycling can provide a fun way to get around the Florida Keys, and cyclists will find plenty of routes which they can use.

    General

    The Florida Keys typically have a height of about five to 20 feet above sea level. This flat landscape means that cyclists should not find riding in the area overly arduous, especially those who intend to try longer journeys. The tropical climate of the Keys also remains warm year-round, ensuring that conditions remain conducive to outdoor bike riding most of the time.

    Bike Rental

    Cycle rental shops in many of the communities around the Florida Keys offer the chance for residents and visitors to rent a bike. This includes Bike Rentals Key West (bikerentalskeywest.com) in the Key West area. It offers beach cruisers, mountain bikes, and tandems for rental, with the company providing customers with a useful cycle map of the Key West Area. It also offers guided bicycle tours of Key West. Backcountry Cowboy (backcountrycowboy.com), located in the Islamorada area, has one-speed and three-speed comfort bicycles available for rent.

    Trails

    Cyclists can travel throughout the Keys using the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. Developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Greenways and Trails (dep.state.fl.us), the route runs parallel to the Overseas Highway. Much of the trail is already in place for cyclists to use. On completion, it will run for a distance of 106 miles between Key West and Key Largo, providing a scenic route for cyclists to use.

    Bicycle Vacations

    Companies offering bicycle vacations in the Florida Keys area include Bubbas Pampered Pedalers (bubbaspamperedpedalers.com). It organizes an annual event, known as Bubba Fest, which involves a week long bike tour around the Florida Keys. Staged in November, the tour caters to novice and experienced bike riders. Cyclists generally complete around 45 miles per day, providing opportunities to stop off at local sights along the way. Vehicles accompanying the tour provide respite for those who want to take a break from cycling.

    Parks

    The Bahia Honda State Park (bahiahondapark.com) on Big Pine Key offers cycling as an activity. A 3.5 mile paved route winds its way through the park grounds, with bike riders welcome to use this to view the beautiful scenery and wildlife of the area. The Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park (floridastateparks.org) on Key Largo also has routes for cyclists. These include a 0.5 mile paved boulevard, and filling in a back country permit enables visitors to ride on the six mile dirt trail around the park.

    About the Author

    Ian Farquharson has worked as a freelance writer since 2008. He has written for individual clients, as well as various online publications, and brings sports and travel expertise to eHow. He has a Bachelor of Engineering in civil engineering from Dundee College of Technology.

    Photo Credits

    • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images