The Cross Florida Greenway, a.k.a. the Marjorie Harris Carr Greenway, is a connecting series of multi-use trails that cross Florida from the East coast near Jacksonville to the Gulf of Mexico at the Withlacochee River. These trails are currently a hub for eco-tourists who use them for cycling tours of up to several hundred continuous miles, equestrian enthusiasts who like the specific horse trails which are part of the system, and hikers who revel in the rural beauty of the Florida wilderness that the Greenway provides.
The Cross Florida Greenway has an especially rich history. Originally, the Greenway was commissioned as a cross-Florida barge canal. The idea had been suggested as far back as 1567 by the king of Spain wished to transport goods via a proposed canal between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic to avoid having to go around the south tip of Florida. Although the idea was widely regarded as a good one, the funding and logistical issues kept this project from being undertaken until 1933 when planning for a cross-Florida barge canal truly began. Funding for the project still didn’t come until President John F. Kennedy issued funds to start construction of the canal in 1963. From 1963 to 1971 construction of a barge system was undertaken in fits and starts, however, questions about the environmental impact were repeatedly raised and eventually the project was terminated in 1991. At that time, ownership of the lands that were intended for the canal was transferred over to the state who then chose to convert them to a public multi-use trail system. This trail system was intended to provide extensive tracts of biking and hiking trails in Florida’s vulnerable, natural areas for conservation purposes.
Although the Cross-Florida Greenway is technically 110 miles long, it links into various other public trails in Florida’s 1,400 miles of accessible, maintained trails. Additional sections will be added north of our nearby Inverness hotel. In addition to the many biking trails (see maps here) which define part of the Greenway, there are also paddling trails which follow the rivers along the Greenway, equestrian trails which are specific to use by horses, designated fishing spots, and hiking trails that including greater climbing topography. Trails for cyclists include various experience levels whose difficulty is noted on the above linked map.