Great Biking Trails in Tampa, Florida

Flatwoods Bike Trails, Tampa, Florida

There is a terrific area in northeast Tampa called Flatwoods that has the most incredible opportunities for mountain biking that we recently encountered on a five hour trail experience.

Flatwoods is very easy to get to from anywhere in the Tampa Bay area as it is minutes from the expressway I-75 between the I-4 and the I-275.  While there are a lot of other services at the Flatwoods Park (including a seven mile paved loop that is a one-way), we spent the best part of a day doing the trails on our bikes.

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Here I am at the start of the day – eager to see the trails and do some great riding.

We started out on the south side of Morris Bridge Road  at the Hole in the Fence Trailhead where we parked our van and took out our bikes.  There is a trail map that we photographed with our phone so we had some record of where to go – the area south of Morris Bridge has a lot of trails.  Some of them were harder than others and they were fairly well marked.

Typical trail for off road biking at Flatwoods, Tampa.
Typical trail for off road biking at Flatwoods, Tampa.

We completed a fairly long run of the lower trails and ended up at Morris Bridge Road at North Bridge Park which had a lot of services and makes also for a great place to start your journey.  We rode on the street surface a ways to pick up the trail again after we rode around the park area and loaded up on water again here.

This trail led to the Hillsborough River where there was a gazebo for resting and great bird watching.  Most of the trails were no more than a bike tire wide, but this was the exception.
This trail led to the Hillsborough River where there was a gazebo for resting and great bird watching. Most of the trails were no more than a bike tire wide, but this was the exception.

It looked like we could do the rest of the trails easily, however once we got going we found it difficult to turn back but soldiered on and on.  We came to the paved section and took another break there.  We

Part of the seven mile paved loop at Flatwoods in Tampa, Florida
Part of the seven mile paved loop at Flatwoods in Tampa, Florida

encountered deer and snakes and all sorts of birds on the trip.  It was incredible old Florida scenery throughout the entire day and plenty of places to have a rest.  While I’m not an expert at Florida wildlife, it was absolutely fascinating to look at all the types of birds.  The best was when several deer ran across a trail in front of us.  I sure wish it was possible to get a picture but they moved way too fast.  Scared the hell out of me actually.

One of many interesting water sites at Flatwoods, Tampa on the bike trails.
One of many interesting water sites at Flatwoods, Tampa on the bike trails.

We took the northern loop all the way around and it took far longer than we would have estimated.  The entire journey around was a good five hours – we had planned on about two hours so we were pretty hungry when we left.   We would have taken a short cut on the paved section but it was a one way going the wrong direction so we were forced to continue on the trail – I kept thinking it can’t be that much longer.  But it took far longer than we estimated.  Lots of great trail biking though.  It was phenomenal from an exercise standpoint as well as from an experience one that included the natural environment and wildlife.

Another great biking place that I’ve written about, though not nearly as large as Flatwoods, is in St. Petersburg at Boyd Hill.  It is another urban location that is all about nature.

Taking a rest knowing that the end is not too far away.
Taking a rest knowing that the end is not too far away.
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