Florida is developing a world class multi-use trail system which is envisioned to include over 2000 miles of trails when completed. One of the earliest and most recognized is the Pinellas Trail which, until recently, extended from St. Petersburg to East Lake Road just east of Tarpon Springs. In July, Pinellas County had the grand opening of the new section of the Pinellas Trail from East Lake Road to Wall Springs. This new section is just over five miles long and extends the Pinellas Trail to the Pasco County line.
The Pinellas Trail is one of the first sections of the Coast-to-Coast Connector partially funded through the twenty five million dollars of recurring funding by the legislature to the FDOT for multi-use trail construction. The construction of the next section, beginning in Pasco county, is underway and will provide the link to the Sun Coast Trail which follows the Veterans Expressway all the way to Brooksville. It is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
The extension received rave reviews by early users. Anxious to see for ourselves, my wife and I checked it out on a Friday morning ride the first week of August. Beginning at East Lake Road, the extension follows Keystone Road east along its south side about three miles before crossing to the north. A short distance later the trail makes a sharp left turn. You quickly leave the traffic corridor behind you and enter a world of pastures and woodlands for the next two miles. It is tranquil and beautiful and is a delightful taste of what we can expect to experience when the next much longer section opens. The scenery reminded me of the Florida I fondly remember as boy growing up in Sanford. We enjoyed the last two miles so much we rode it several times to extend our experience.
There are several parking options if you want to begin close to the new section. You may consider parking in Brooker Creek Preserve, located just off Keystone Road about two miles from East Lake Road. The parking area in the preserve is about a mile from its entrance along a little used access road. Brooker Creek is beautiful and offers plenty of parking as well as water and clean rest rooms.
Other parking options which would extend your ride include various business plazas along Keystone west of East Lake. These afford access to the existing Pinellas Trail which loops south to Keystone about a half mile west of East Lake Road. Of course, you can extend your ride by simply following the Pinellas Trail through Tarpons Springs to meet the new extension. The ride through Tarpon Springs is unique and worth experiencing. A great place to stop for breakfast or lunch is The Trailside Cafe. It is Trip Advisor rated and situated on the trail just south of Tarpon Avenue in Tarpon Springs. We have tried it twice recently and have enjoyed both meals. It's a great place to refuel after your ride.