The Cross Florida Greenway, also known as the Marjorie Harris Carr Greenway, is a series of multi-use trails that cross Florida from the East coast at Saint John’s River to the Gulf of Mexico at the Withlacochee River. These trails are now a hub for eco-tourists who use them for cycling tours of up to several hundred continuous miles, equestrian enthusiasts who use horse trails which are part of the system, and hikers who enjoy the rural beauty of the Florida wilderness that the Greenway encompasses.
The Cross Florida Greenway has an exceptionally rich history. Originally, the Greenway was intended as a cross-Florida barge canal. The idea had been proposed as far back as 1567 by the king of Spain who wished to transport goods via canal between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic without having to go around the south tip of Florida. Although the idea was accepted as a good one, the funding and logistical problems kept this project from being attempted until 1933 when planning for a cross-Florida barge canal truly began. Funding for the project didn’t come until President John F. Kennedy issued funds to start construction in 1963. From 1963 to 1971 construction of a barge system was attempted, however, questions about the environmental impact were repeatedly raised and eventually, the project was terminated in 1991. At that time, the lands that were intended for the canal were transferred over to the state which decided to convert them to a public use trail system that would provide extensive tracts of biking and hiking trails in Florida’s natural areas.
Although the Cross-Florida Greenway is technically only 110 miles long, it links into various other public trails in Florida’s 1,400 miles of accessible, maintained trails. In addition to the many biking trails(see maps here) which comprise part of the Greenway, there also paddling trails which follow the rivers along the Greenway, horse trails which are specific to equestrian use, designated fishing spots, and hiking trails that including greater topography. Trails for cyclists include various difficulty levels which can be noted on the above linked map.
Photo courtesy of www.visitcitrus.com