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Suwannee River Greenway includes an east-west route between the Suwannee and Ichetucknee rivers, as well as a short north-south section the starts mid-way between the two rivers and heads to the Santa Fe River. The entire trail is paved and partially follows a former CSX Railroad corridor. Along the way, numerous benches and small covered pavilions beneath a dense tree canopy provide plenty of shady rest stops.
Two trailheads—at Ivey Memorial Park and in Branford—lie in a bend along the western half of the trail. Ivey has the only public restroom and water fountain, so you may want to start your trip here. Consider a visit to Branford's restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations before hitting the trail.
North of town, the trail parallels US Highway 129 for about 2.5 miles before it ends. If you continue west just over 1 mile along lightly traveled CR 248, you'll reach Little River Springs State Park. Cool off with a dip in the springs at this slice of old Florida on the Suwannee.
Heading back toward Branford along the trail, you'll pass the trailheads before reaching a gopher turtle preserve at the trail midpoint. Be on the lookout for a gopher turtle or two, as well as other small trail critters.
The path around the south side of Branford is built on the old rail bed and is smooth and solid. The section parallel to US27, from the east side of Branford to the Ichetucknee River is potholed and uneven.
By the time you reach trail's end, you may be ready for a relaxing tube ride down the meandering Ichetucknee. Also worth a visit is Ichetucknee Springs State Park, a short drive away. On the other side of the Ichetucknee you pick up the Ichetucknee to O'Leno Trail.
This is a pet-friendly trail but they must kept leashed and have current vaccination records for inspection.
To reach the Branford trailhead, take US Highway 27 north to US Highway 129, turn north then take the first left on Trail Street/Owens Avenue. Parking is at road's end.
Ivey Memorial Park is on the other side of US Highway 27, just east of the Suwannee River. For more information, contact:
Suwannee County Recreation Department
1201 Silas Drive
Live Oak, FL 32064
This trail is rated 4 stars, but just barely. The northern section is very nice, but had some limbs and such on the trail. The eastern section has lots of rough spots and holes in the pavement, especially east of where US 129 crosses the trail. We rode recumbent trikes and it was hard not to hit the bad spots. This would not be a good trail for road bikes. Overall we did enjoy the trail.
Rode this trail last week and there are far too many roots and potholes for a road bike!!! I will do it again but only on my Mountain Bike.
Any trail is better than no trail. The Branford trail begins at a beautiful old depot and goes off in two directions. For a short time, the old rail trail traces the old rail through winding and shady areas and is well maintained. However the longer patches are a bit jarring to ride if you have a road bike. The roots of trees and uneven pavement of the recently patched potholes can cause falls if not careful. On the upside, the trail ends at bodies of water with plenty of parking at each end point. This is a decent trail because of the attractions at the end points, despite the problems along the way. It is a good trail to do, but avoid the hot summer because once out of Branford, there is little, if any shade. Be sure to hydrate.
This trail will be a nice trail if it was just maintained, and the cracks/potholes repaired. But as for now, we usually avoid this trail... Too dangerous for road bikes.
The leg of this trail going North alongside US-129 is a dangerous ride due to potholes, severely cracked asphalt and loose sand in places as deep as two or more inches. Fix these accident causing problems and it becomes a four star trail (IMO).
I will occasionally review this trail on TrailLink for commentary on the trail condition by others. I will definitely ride this trail again if the issues that concern me are corrected.
This trail is now paved for approximately 25 miles, from Branford to Olena State Park (High Springs). The cool thing is that it connects several parks. The north leg of the trail from Branford will take you to Little River Springs
and Park its really nice but you will need to ride a county paved road for a short distance about one mile or so.
Camping is permitted at Ivey Park in Branford for visitors on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and the Green Ways Trail. Branford has one small motel close to the river and trail.
I rode this trail on October 15, 2009. I started the day on the Nature Coast Trail in Fanning Springs, rode to Cross City on that trail, and travelled 29 miles on routes 351, 349, and US 27 to Branford. I first rode the 2.5 mile north leg. The first 1.5 mile section was excellent, but the last mile had to leave the railroad bed and run on the powerline right-of-way. The trail condition was still good, it was adjacent to the road. I returned to the trailhead and rode toward Itchetucknee Springs State Park. Once again the first few miles on the roadbed through the Gopher Tortoise preserve were excellent. There is a tree canopy over the trail, and though I didn't see any tortoises, I saw numerous birds, particularly bright red cardinals. Unfortunately the trail left the railbed after a few miles, lost the canopy, had numerous hills, and trail degredation due to tree roots under the asphalt. I was pleasantly surprised as I crossed the Itchetucknee River to discover that the roadside trail continued. The route is mark through Fort White, but leaves the railroad completely and follows route 18 to O'Leno St. Park on US Route 41. There were over 10 miles of trail where I expected to be riding the road. So, there were about five miles of outstanding trail and over fifteen miles of adequate trail beside highways.
"This trail is now paved for approximately 25 miles, from Branford to Olena State Park (High Springs). The cool thing is that it connects several parks. We cycled today from Olena State Park to Ichetucknee Springs State Park (15 miles each way). The not-so-cool thing is that maintenance is lacking. "
"I rode this trail on March 11, 2004. The section described in the trail description on this Web site, from Branford to Little River Springs, is very nice. It may be as nice as any of the trails I have been on.
However, the section running from Branford out to the Ichetucknee River is a total disgrace. It was covered with broken glass in numerous places. It was also covered with horse manure in numerous places and the sand and debris had washed across the trail in several places, making it necessary to walk the bike thru the deep sand. It doesn't look like it has been mowed in many months. In addition it runs along a very noisy road. I managed to ride a toatl of 27 miles round trip on this trail, but I will definately will not return to ride this one again.
The other rail-trails in Florida are a pleasure. This one is not. The trail needs some TLC to get it up to the standards of the others.
**NOTE FROM RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY**
Folks wishing to volunteer to assist with the maintenance of rail-trails in the state of Florida should contact the Florida filed office of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. See their Web site at www.railstrails.org/fl for their contact information. Many local jurisdictions do not have the funds to properly maintain their rail-trails, so support from those who ride the trails is integral to proper maintenance of the trails. Please contact the Florida field office of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (www.railstrails.org/fl) to learn more about specific trails you may be interested in assisting with maintenance activities."
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