Earth Day was just the day to renew my Florida State Park card and then put it to use by visiting one of the nearby state parks to cycle on the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail.
The trail is a converted railroad track that goes through woods and prairie and includes a few hills. I saw pileated woodpeckers, cardinals and mockingbirds and heard goldfinches and chickadees. The sun was bright and the sky blue.
These Rails-to-Trails paths are such a great resource. Florida has 54 trails, with a total of 749 miles, with more Rails-to-Trails projects in the works as part of the Florida Greenways and Trails System. What a great way to promote fitness and preserve nature areas.
The Hawthorne Trail always has cyclists, runners, walkers and a few rollerbladers. A mom was calling “Brake! Brake!” to her young son as they coasted down a hill. A cyclist with handlebar and side packs passed going the other direction, with an American flag waving from the back of his bike.
Today, my only cycling issue was a squirrel that dashed onto the trail and almost into my spokes. But no concerns about aggressive drivers or drivers who are distracted by their phones and stray into the bike lane.
If you haven’t explored a Rails-to-Trails trail, I’d encourage you to find one in your area and try it. Today, it was a great way to celebrate Earth Day.