Lace up your hiking boots, pump up your bike tires, slip on your trail runners, and hit the trail! Summer is here, and what better time to get out on one of Amelia Island’s numerous hiking and biking trails? From north to south and east to west, paved and off-road trails provide a multitude of biking and walking experiences, through maritime forests and stretches of beach, or along the city bike lanes throughout the island.
Amelia Island and the surrounding area has numerous hiking and walking trails suitable for people of all ages and abilities. The Fort Clinch Trail is a 3-mile moderately trafficked trail located in Fort Clinch State Park that can be accessed near the front gate. To make the trail a full loop of about six miles, you can hike the trail to the fort, then walk back along the beach for a good work out! The trail is also makes for a challenging bike ride.
Egans Creek Greenway includes several miles of flat dirt paths that let you get close to nature. You can access this area from three points: behind the Atlantic Avenue Recreation Center (2500 Atlantic Ave), at the trail crossings on Jasmine Street, or from the access on Sadler Road near the Residence Inn Amelia Island. The Greenway is also a great off-road biking trail for all ages, but fatter tires are recommended.
The Dune Ridge Trail is a 4-mile loop located at Little Talbot Island State Park which takes you through a tropical forest, sand dunes, and out to the beach. From there, you can walk a mile-and-a-half along the Atlantic Ocean on a beach covered in shells and driftwood back to the parking lot.
The Amelia Island Trail (AIT) is a 6-mile paved, off-road, multi-use path suitable for all types of bicycles and riders. The AIT is a designated part of the National East Coast Greenway, a long-term project to provide a paved, off-road cycling path connecting Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida. The AIT runs along the south end of Amelia Island and can be accessed at numerous locations running parallel to South Fletcher Avenue or A1A. The northern trailhead is at Peters Point Beachfront Park, and the trail terminates on the southern side of the Nassau River. Amelia Island’s premier casual riding venue, it is extremely popular with visitors and locals alike. The trail is mostly shaded and flat, and on its most southerly segment through the Amelia Island State Park (entry fee for cyclists is waived), it offers a traffic-free ride via the Crady Fishing Bridge over the Nassau River.
There are several Amelia Island roads with marked bicycle lanes making them very suitable for accomplished “road cyclists.” Cyclists must obey all traffic laws, rules, and signals. The most popular routes are along South Fletcher Avenue or A1A from Atlantic Avenue south to the Nassau River and across the river to the Talbot Islands, and alongside the Amelia Island Parkway.
Depending upon the time of day and subject to any special events in progress, many of the island’s secondary roads offer safe cycling. Centre and Front Streets in the historic downtown provide access to river views, restaurants, and shops, but you must share the road with motorists, and city ordinances prohibit bicycles from riding on the downtown sidewalks. Connecting downtown to the beach, Atlantic Avenue is a wide boulevard with ample room to cycle safely on the road or on the sidewalks. Of course, another favorite of local cyclists is the paved road inside Fort Clinch State Park, which offers a great shaded ride on a warm day.
The Amelia River-to-Sea Trail (ARTS) will be completed by fall of this year, and runs alongside Simmons Road from South Fletcher Avenue westward to the city ball fields off Bailey Road, and then onward to the new privately-funded Crane Island development on the Amelia River.
For more information and maps, visit www.ameliaislandtrail.org, www.floridastateparks.org/park/Fort-Clinch, and www.floridastateparks.org/park/Little-Talbot-Island.