Do you love cycling but not the added risk that automobile traffic adds to it? Blackwater Heritage Trail in Milton, Fl, offers a safe alternative for cyclists in the form of an 8.1 mile paved bicycle path that begins in Milton and ends at Whiting Field Naval Air Station. This historic landmark trail follows the path of the old Florida and Alabama Railroad (F&ARR) and now takes its place as part of Florida’s Rail to Trail program.
Once getting through the town center and negotiating a few road crossings the bike path meanders through Milton’s scenic back country, passing rural backyards, small farms and crossing several streams as it traverses piney woods, a cypress/bay tree swamp and a meadow of white-topped pitcher plants. The path is mostly flat and wide enough to allow cyclists to ride alongside one another comfortably or to pass with ease.
Another convenience along the bike path is the placement of several benches (some covered,) portable toilets and mile markers notating the distance traveled. Road crossings are also clearly marked making this one of the more pleasant rides in the Florida panhandle. Caution should still be used when crossing roadways.
There are several access points to the Blackwater Heritage Trail. The southern trailhead can be found on Tar Plant Road off of old Hwy 90. This section is a newer extension to the popular trail and cyclists will find parking, water and restrooms. The next trailhead entrance is located at the intersection of Hwy 87 and Hwy 90 in Milton where restrooms, a picnic shelter, water fountain and bike rack are available.
The Blackwater Heritage Trail Visitor’s Center is located about a mile from the trailhead at 5533 Alabama Street and offers additional parking, restrooms, two picnic tables, a playground and a souvenir/concession stand. Be sure to fill up any water bottles before continuing past this point due to a lack of potable water sources along the route.
North from the Blackwater Heritage Trail is the 1.5 Military Heritage Trail managed by Whiting Field Naval Air Station.
The trail is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. until sunset and admission is free. More information can be found on the Florida Greenways & Trails website.