Fort Walton Beach Unveils Two New Bike Routes for Cyclists

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May 14, 2011

Bike Path Ribbon Cutting; L-R Dr. Karen Chapman, OCHD; Mayor Mike Anderson; Stella Jones, City Planner; City Manager Bob Mearns

Cyclists from around the local area turned out at Ferry Park this morning for a ribbon cutting ceremony promoting two new bike routes for the area. These bike paths are the first for the City and was made possible by a “Healthy Communities, Healthy People” grant provided by the Okaloosa County Health Department. This joint effort between the City of Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa County Health Department and the Emerald Coast Cyclists aims to promote healthy living within the community by highlighting local cycling opportunities.

Local Cyclists Turn Out for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Ferry Park

After the ceremony riders saddled up to take an introductory ride along the designated route. Plans are in the works to add more signage and lane striping will be added in the near future.

On Wednesday, May 18th, the Ride of Silence,will be held beginning at Scully’s on the Bayou beginning at 5:45 p.m. This ride is to honor cyclists that have been killed in accidents. Riders wishing to participate must have a helmet or they will not be allowed to ride in the memorial.

For more information about the Ride of Silence contact David Simpson, ECCC Safety Officer at 850-543-5601 or visit the Emerald Coast Cyclists website.

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Fort Walton Beach to Hold Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Bike Routes

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Fort Walton Beach – Thanks to a partnership effort with the City of Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa County Health Department, and the Emerald Coast Cyclists Club, two new bike route projects have been completed in Fort Walton Beach. Route 1 runs along Yacht Club Drive, Hughes Street, and Ferry Road. Route 2 runs along Bay Drive and Brooks Street. A “ribbon cutting” ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 14th at 10am at Ferry Park where the first bike route signs will be unveiled by the Mayor. There will then be a group ride immediately following the ribbon cutting.

Resources:
City of Fort Walton Beach

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May is National Bike Month

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May marks National Bicycle Month and people all across the country are dusting off their bicycles and taking to the streets. Not only is cycling an excellent way to get exercise but with the rising cost of gasoline prices it’s a great way to save money as well. In the local area there are several upcoming biking events that cyclist might want to take note of.

Cyclists Approaching the Cinco Bayou Bridge on Eglin Parkway During the 2010 Ride of Silence

On May 18th the Emerald Coast Cyclists will be holding their annual Ride of Silence commemorating cyclists that have been killed in traffic accidents across the country. Last year over one hundred riders turned out to participate in the police-escorted memorial ride through some of Fort Walton Beach’s busiest streets to help raise motorist awareness. This year the ride kicks of at 5:45 p.m. at Scully’s on the Bayou on Eglin Parkway and will again be led by police-escort. All riders wishing to participate must have a helmet or they will not be able to ride.

Cyclists Getting Ready at Before the 2010 Ride of Silence

May 13-15 Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort and Robin’s Bikes and Fitness are holding the Sandestin Beach Bicycle Tour benefiting the Alaqua Animal Refuge. Participants will have their choice of either a 15, 30 or 60 mile bike tour throughout some of the areas most scenic areas. Please visit their website for more information.

May 20th is also National Bike to Work Day. Celebrate Bike Month by leaving the car in the garage and riding to work instead and encourage co-workers to do the same. Have a safe ride by wearing brightly colored clothing and always remembering to wear a helmet.

Cyclists on Blackwater Heritage Trail in Milton, Fla

Looking for something more relaxing than biking to work. The Emerald Coast has several excellent places to ride such as the Timberlake trails and Ranger Camp Road on Eglin Reservation, Ranger Camp Road, Blackwater Heritage Trail in Milton, Point Washington State Forest and Scenic 30A in Walton County, Pine Log State Forest near Panama City Beach and the UWF trails in Pensacola.

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Biking at Blackwater Heritage Trail in Milton, Fla

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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.

A Cyclist on the Blackwater Heritage Trail in Milton, Fla

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.

A Group of Cyclists Enjoys the Blackwater Heritage Trail

Trailhead Locations

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.

Historic Sign at the Blackwater Heritage Trail Visitor's Center

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.

Wisteria in Bloom Along the Blackwater Heritage Trail

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.

 

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Biking and Hiking at Timberlake, Fort Walton Beach, Fl

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Sun and surf aren’t the only activities that the Fort Walton Beach/Destin area have to offer. Just a few miles inland on the Eglin Reservation are over 26 miles of maintained biking and hiking trails for the outdoor adventurer. To access this recreation area visitors must first obtain a low-cost recreation pass from the Eglin Natural Resources Branch, known locally as the Jackson Guard, at 107 Hwy 85N in Niceville. This pass provides access and a detailed map to nearly 280,000 acres of natural area.

Timber Lake, Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Timberlake Trail System

The trails at Timberlake are marked for various skill levels; green for novice, yellow for intermediate and red for challenging to expert. Many of the trails wind past scenic creeks and wetlands whereas the main trail encircles picturesque Timberlake.These same trails are open to hikers who must yield the right of way to cyclists. A map of the trails, courtesy of the Jackson Guard in Niceville, can be found on their website.

The Timberlake Bike Trail Recreation area is divided by Lightwood Knot Creek with trailheads and parking on Ranger Camp Rd and Range Road 234, both of which are accessible from State Road 189/Lewis Turner Blvd. A third parking area can be found at Timberlake itself.For those interested in camping, there is a camping area at the lake. Camping and fishing permits can be obtained from the Jackson Guard.

Resources:

Jackson Guard Natural Resources, (850) 882-4164 or 882-4165

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