Friday, July 5, 2019

The Lehigh Trail In Palm Coast Florida

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Important: If you are new to biking on paved trails be aware that not all trails go through safe areas. However I rate the Lehigh Trail a 10 for being in completely safe areas. So please do a little research beforehand. Google to find info before your visits. Other good resources are peoples blogs over regular websites. Also if you are a member on photo sites (I'm on Flickr) ask questions to people who are posting photos of specific trails. I also get lots of info on bicycle forums and YouTube videos. Taking the time to plan should make your excursions more enjoyable, relaxing, and safer. Good luck.

The Lehigh Trail in Palm Coast Florida is not a very highly publicized trail, but do not let that stop you from biking and exploring here. It's a really good one. This is a former abandoned railroad corridor that runs east along a canal from Belle Terre Parkway to Colbert Lane, and west from Belle Terre Parkway all the way to just shy of Highway 1 (and just shy south of Royal Palms Parkway). Belle Terre Parkway is north off Highway 100, and also is between Highway 1 and I-95 (parking is available at Belle Terre Parkway, Colbert Lane, and Old Kings Road). The Belle Terre Parkway trailhead is north (and on same side of the road) of Fire Station 25 located at 1250 Belle Terre Blvd in Palm Coast. Also Palm Coast connects many, many miles of sidewalks and multiuse paths. The St. Joe Walkway is a very nice trail here. So bicycle friendly Palm Coast is a great place to ride.

Locating the Lehigh Trail can be confusing for non-locals. It was for me. I had to ask for directions twice and still had to work hard to locate where to park at. It's not marked at all. Not even a small sign. That's kind of weird. People would tell me where the trail was, but left out crucial additional info. Finally I found the parking area on the Belle Terre Parkway. A dirt and grass parking area no less. I had driven too far to give up on finding the trail.

Now I knew from my research that the Lehigh Trail runs along a canal. So the words boring and ugly came to mind. But far from it. The canal picture in my head was replaced by wooded, scenic, beautiful, serene, and fantastic. In most places along the trail you have no idea a canal is beside you. With lots of trees and thick foliage camouflaging the canal, you only occasionally see glimpses of it as you ride.

This trail is broken into three sections. Highway 1 to Belle Terre Parkway. Then to Old Kings Road. Then to Colbert Lane. The underpass at I-95 west of Old Kings Road is really pretty cool also. On my March 2012 visit there were hundreds of little swallows flying and swopping back and forth, stopping briefly at the many nests located on the bottom of the I-95 overpass. It was quite a sight. Also be very careful crossing Old Kings Road, which is a three way stop and usually pretty busy.

Also if you keep your eyes open you will see railroad remnants along the trail. These are part of the Lehigh Railroad Spur built in 1952 to carry product from the Lehigh Portland Cement Company to market. The eastern end of the Lehigh Greenway Rail Trail begins in what was the switchyard for the cement plant, which was busy enough for the Florida East Coast Railroad to maintain a switch engine on the premises. Unfortunately due to labor disputes and economic uncertainty, the plant and the railroad closed in 1965. Indeed very sad to so many people and the area.

The trail is also very popular with walkers and runners. Bicyclists and walkers were usually evenly split on all my visits. And for some reason, like I mentioned earlier, I had no idea on my first visit this was a former rail line. Remnants are evident in many sections if you look for them. From large to small. I have never been to a rail trail that had so much evidence of its past. Pretty cool. Also I noticed that the canal is very popular for fishing. Also there isn't any water or rest rooms here. So be prepared. There are a lot of nice metal benches though. So two thumbs up for the Lehigh Trail. This was a great visit and definitely much better than I expected. I would highly recommend this fantastic trail. My visits here were March/June 2012, and October 2014. Thanks for seeing.

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