Florida Keys

Florida Keys
Florida Keys September 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Biking the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge


Date: 3/23/2014

Location: Suwannee, Fl

Julie and I decided to do something outdoors today since the weather has been so nice. She had a brochure covering the Suwannee River area and noticed a bike ride on the Dixie Mainline trail which is in the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. So, we decided to load up our bikes and take the 45 minute drive to check it out. Along with the bike ride we are also on the lookout for potential kayaking areas and campgrounds.

The Dixie Mainline was constructed in the 1920's as a tram road (narrow gauge railroad) to transport timber out of the swamps and forests. After logging ended around 1940, the road was not maintained until the 1960's, when another timber company refurbished the road and wooden bridges. These bridges later deteriorated and the road again became impassable. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased the land in 1979 to establish Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. In 1998 the bridges were replaced and the road was opened to the public.

The road/trail is a one lane dirt road, but it is hard packed and very easy to ride. There’s no loose sand areas to worry about. It is open to car traffic, but we probably only had about 10 cars and truck pass us the entire ride and everyone was very courteous, with some pulling over as we passed or at least slowed down,

We started from the south end of the trail with begins at County Road 349 just north of Suwannee, Florida. We had our doubts about this ride when we got on the trail as the first several miles are not very scenic and the road is bordered by a high fence surrounding land which is not part of the preserve. But then the road enters a wetland, swampy area and the the views improve. We drove past the area that was fenced and found a parking area where we unloaded the bikes and began our ride. The trail crosses several bridges where the tidal creeks make their way to the Gulf of Mexico. 

After about 4 miles on the Dixie Trail crosses County Road 357 and we took this road to check out a park and campground at Shired Island. This campground is at a county park maintained by Dixie county. The campground is in a beautiful location overlooking the gulf, but probably one that we won’t camp it. The campground was kind of a random selection or parking areas and looks like some long term tenants. Not the kind of place that we like to visit.

The first place we stopped at was an overlook at the Salt Creek. It was a nice quiet area,  but the no-see-ums were swarming. This is something that we noticed during the day whenever we got near  the tidal marshes.



There are several canoe trails mentioned in the brochure of the Suwannee Wildlife Refuge. Here is one that we found as we crossed one of the many bridges on the Dixie Trail. We’re thinking that we may come back here sometime in the future and do some paddling.



During today’s ride we passed a lot of tidal areas. This one was another kayaking trail starting point.



This is what the Dixie Mainline trail looked like for most of the ride. It’s a one lane road with very few hills, so the pedaling was easy!!!





it took us awhile to notice this little gator hanging out near the water. With so much water around I’m surprised we didn’t see more. But we did see plenty of birds and an otter ran across the road in front of our truck as we were leaving the area.



We road for a total of about 22 miles today, but my GPS batteries died early on in the trip. But here’s the track showing the early part of our ride.

Biking the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge at EveryTrail


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