Saturday, November 12, 2016

Suwannee River Greenway Trail In Branford Florida


Welcome to the Suwannee River Greenway Trail, located in the small town of Branford Florida, which is west of Jacksonville, and north of Gainesville. This is not a very publicized paved trail. Most have never heard of it. However this 12.5 mile trail is both scenic and peaceful. Also this trail was once an abandoned railroad corridor. Exact info is very limited. But the railroad ran between Live Oak and Branford starting in the 1880's.

The two trailheads are very close to one another. Ivy Memorial Park located at 614 Ivey Memorial Park Drive S.W. which is on the Suwannee River, and the other crosses Highway 20 and is behind Fabulous Coach Lines 304 SW Suwannee Ave. on Highway 129. There is plenty of parking at both these locations. You can start your ride heading north (the back of Sisters Café which will be on your right, and the old train depot will be on your left) that runs parallel to Highway 129 or turn around and go south.

If you head south, when you get to Highway 27 you will see a BP Station straight ahead next to Ivey Memorial Park. You will see where the trail is with a wooden fence line beside it. As you ride, for a short distance you are parallel to Ivey Memorial Park. Then the trail surroundings opens up. Sporadic country style houses are to your right next to a dirt road parallel to you.

To your left is mostly undeveloped land with an occasional dwelling, business warehouses, or farm. The place that was really interesting was a huge Portable Toilets storage facility. I have never seen so many outdoor toilets in my life. As you continue your ride, you will now find yourself with nothing on either side of you except woods, thick green foliage, and beautiful canopy offering lots of shade.

Just remember you are in rural country. And the isolation can get to you a little. Just be cautious as you bike some of this trail section. Always watch where you stop and look around. After all Florida does have poisonous snakes. Also, it's probably rare, but loose dogs can be around this terrain. Most would be friendly I would say. Just be alert and smart. My advice is to stop if they come running at you. And hope for the best. I carry pepper spray and a small air horn in case of emergencies. I'm sure some bikers have these items.
Also there is a section close to the Highway 27 access that is a gopher tortoise area. These are the coolest animals to see. Gopher tortoises are named for their ability to dig large, deep burrows. Almost always in sand, probably because it is lighter than dirt. These burrows are widely used by other species throughout the ecosystem, making gopher tortoises an important species with a pivotal role to play in the wildlife community.