The Alafia River State Park is quickly becoming one of the most favored off-road biking choices in Florida. Skilled riders are traveling from all over the state to ride this collection of scary drops, off-camber hillside ledges, high speed banked turns and intimidating ridge top trails. This single-track is built on the rugged terrain of a previously mined area. Currently there are about 14 miles of trails at Alafia.
The easiest (Green) loop is called Sand Pine and can be ridden as an out-and-back three mile ride or as a two mile loop riding back on the levee. The other Green trail is the River Loop, and is for experienced beginners. Although only three miles long (with bailouts at one-mile intervals), it feels longer because the trail has technical sections where roots or tight turns slow the pace and challenge the rider.
The intermediate (Blue) sections, Bridges and Rock Garden, are really fun with lots of medium-sized hills, some short and steep, with others more gradual for a speedy downhill. There are several very challenging sections along the blue trail (even for experienced riders) and the sudden drops, climbs, twists and turns are just plain fun to ride.
The Rollercoaster and Moonscape trails (Black) form a 4-mile advanced loop which MUST be ridden one-way. Gatorback and Rabbit Ears are very difficult shorter loops off Bridges and Sand Pine, respectively. These sections all include steep roller coaster dips, technical rocky sections and very difficult climbs and drops. Many of these have a steep, straight line descents followed by a short valley before the
trail climbs rapidly up the opposite side. It is a roller coaster sensation that takes your breath away and gives extra "G" forces as your swoop suddenly transitions from a dive into a climb. Not all of these are a straight line down and up. Some drops have relatively sudden turns. Knowing what to expect and controlling your speed accordingly is necessary here.
Directions: Traveling south from Tampa on I-75, take Apollo Beach Exit #246, go east 1 mile to SR-301 (first traffic signal). Turn right (south) go 1.5 miles. Turn left (east) onto SR-672 and continue 11 miles until the first STOP sign. Turn left (north) onto CR-39, go 1 mile to park's
main gate, on the right. Pay $4.00 entry fee and follow signs to trailhead. (year-long pass is also available)