Before telling you about this next piece of the Coast to Coast Connector, I want to add a bit of editorial opinion.
First, the trail is not complete in this 5.9 mile section through Sanford and Lake Mary. There are gaps that require riding through sand and grass, with some litter thrown in as obstacles. If you stick to the proposed path, you will be riding along in the grass, facing traffic, on very rough and uneven surfaces. There are patches of soft white sand and roadside debris, like a half-full Coke bottle, a large cardboard box, vinyl siding, broken hubcaps, and shredded pieces of truck tires.
Second, who came up with a bike path that rides in front of two large shopping mall entrances, a huge Walmart, and almost wall-to-wall strip malls? A far better choice would have been a bike path along Orange Boulevard to meet the crossing of the Seminole Wekiva Trail. Or a brand new path through Black Bear Wilderness and Lower Wekiva Preserve. Or even a route up CR 15 to SR 46A to avoid the traffic and dozens of business entrances around the mall, I-4, and SR 417.
When I rode this path today I was nearly hit multiple times and cut off even more. People turning into the dozens of store entrances are not looking for a bicycle and are definitely not expecting it when they almost run into one.
Reaching this portion of the C2C after the peaceful ride from Maytown, Osteen, and the Spring-to-Spring is going to be a heck of a shock for any rider headed west.
I began this ride just south of the St. Johns River. Right now the only way across the river is in the bike lanes on the very busy, four-lane, divided highway 17-92. There always seems to be debris in the bike lanes. They say that one day a pedestrian/bike bridge will connect the trail here.
Lake Monroe Wayside Park provides a trailhead at the base of the bridge. There are boat ramps, covered picnic tables, a historic bridge, and a nice view of the river. To leave the park is not easy. It’s a split entryway, so you have to cross the entrance ramp to the park to get to the trail.
The trail is a broad concrete sidewalk that goes under Interstate 4 and comes to its off ramp onto US 17-92. To get across the off-ramp, you must cross the merge lane. When the lighted pedestrian flashed, it immediately started a ten second count down. You can not dally at this crossing. Then there’s an island where you have to push another button to cross the ramp.
The next crossing is US 17-92. Be patient, it is a long light. Thankfully, the timer allows more time to cross the four lanes. I assume they brought us to this side of the road to avoid the I-4 on ramp on the other side. It is a short ride on the bike path here, after crossing the railroad tracks and another side road crossing. Now you’re ready for the next crossing, this one across CR 15 (Lake Monroe Road). The good news is that there is a Kangaroo convenience store with a Subway if you’re thirsty or it is time for lunch.
Here the bike path becomes a wide concrete sidewalk. You know it is a bike path due to the “No Motorized Vehicles” signs and the double yellow lines down the middle. Are we really not supposed to pass on these double yellows?
You see your next lunch opportunity as you reach SR 46. There is a Sobik’s Sub shop on the corner across the street. It is a busy place around lunchtime. I have noticed regular customers during my frequent visits. This shop is still run by a member of the Sobik’s founder’s family.
The trail turns to parallel SR 46 towards I-4. You pass ALDI, BJs, and a few places to grab a bite to eat or enjoy a cold ice cream. There is a large RaceTrac convenience store where you cross SR 46. Thankfully this was not a difficult intersection to cross to continue onto the Rinehart Trail, which parallels the east side of Rinehart Road. Here you will have to dodge customers as they enter the car wash, restaurants, and strip malls before the trail comes to an end a little past the Mellow Mushroom.
I had to ride in the grass to cross St. Johns Parkway, where the bike path picks up again in front of the Walmart and strip malls. It is not a long ride before the trail ends again. It is dangerous crossing the entrance to Best Buy, where the trail ends and you have to pedal on the grass up to the SR 417 interchange. No one coming off of or onto SR 417 is expecting a bicycle to cross the ramps, but that’s what you have to do, without a bike path. I had to lift my bike up to get up and over the curbs of each of the ramps.
On the other side of the SR 417 ramp, you can see the beginning of the next short paved section up to Oregon Avenue. Then three red reflectors remind you that it is time for yet another ride on the grass. If you watch as you come up to the apartment complex, you can hop on and enjoy a very short sidewalk ride. It must be a busy sidewalk, as there was a very well-worn path to the next shopping plaza when the concrete ends. In this plaza, almost hidden from view, I noticed a 7-11. It was hot and I could hear the call of an ice cold lemonade.
The bike path takes a sharp bend as you enter the car dealership row. One you’re past them, the path quickly comes to an end. No “trails end” sign, no red reflectors, no warning. Just the path, with its double yellow line butting into the grass.
The next paved section is close enough to see from here. But for today, this is the last grassy ride of this section.
Reaching SR 46A at the I-4 interchange, the trail crosses it and continues past a large cemetery and a Publix shopping plaza. If you need to resupply, grab a sub, or lunch at an Italian restaurant, you’re in luck — but that’s only if you haven’t stopped at one of the nearly dozen other places you passed along this short section.
Coming up is a traffic light where you need to be alert, or you could find yourself headed towards Longwood on the Cross Seminole Trail. To stay on the C2C, you must cross Rinehart Road at the Postal Distribution Center. Here the C2C joins the northbound Florida Trail as it crosses the I-4 pedestrian/bike bridge into Lake Mary.
Once across the bridge and into the office park along International Parkway, the C2C continues west by following the Seminole Wekiva Trail as part of its route across Central Florida. Soon you will be riding under a couple of roads, past beautiful paintings, and return to a canopy of trees, just not on today’s ride. Watch for the next segment!
A 5.9 mile linear trip from Lake Monroe Wayside Park in Sanford to International Parkway in Lake Mary.