As we continue our quest to ride all the trails of Volusia County, I wanted to figure out how to link the three pieces of the Spring to Spring Trail together.
We’d ridden two sections together recently. It was time to figure out how the northernmost piece fit in.
According to new maps across the county, the Spring to Spring Trail between Green Springs, Gemini Springs, Blue Spring, and De Leon Springs are part of the St. Johns River to Sea Loop.
But the connectors between them won’t be finished for another four or five years. So for now, as an experienced rider, I was going to connect them by road.
Sandy dropped me off at the Gemini Springs South trailhead behind Lake Monroe Park. All of the south section of the Spring to Spring Trail is part of the Florida Coast to Coast Trail.
We’d just ridden this last week, and when we lived nearby, rode this dozens of times in the past. So it’s familiar and went by quickly.
At the Gemini Springs North trailhead, the Spring to Spring Trail goes west where the Florida Coast to Coast Trail and St Johns River to Sea Loop meet.
Both of these go west. But the map also shows the St. Johns River to Sea Loop continues north through Volusia County along the Spring to Spring Trail.
This was my goal for today, to get to De Leon Springs from here.
From the trailhead off Dirksen Rd, I continued west from Gemini Springs to the intersection on US 17-92 in DeBary.
Crossing the busy highway using the pedestrian lights, I continued a short road ride along Benson Junction Rd through a small industrial area until turning north on Shell Rd.
This was a road ride uphill through an industrial park until Spring Vista Rd, where it became residential.
I was able to ride on the sidewalk through the neighborhoods heading north through DeBary, passing the Civic Center and a couple of churches.
When I reached Highbanks Rd, there was a crosswalk at an odd angle across it to the north side, but also a lot of traffic. This could be quite tricky before and after school.
I continued west along the sidewalk up to the elementary school. The sidewalk widened to a bike path width north of it.
I turned right on the path where it met Donald E. Smith Blvd. We’d been here before when exploring the Central section a couple weeks ago.
Traveling north behind the school field and homes, the wide path narrows at Hammock Oak Circle to a normal width sidewalk.
Be careful riding this section. Watch for the sprinkler system that sprays across the sidewalk.
These are not the little pop up misters, these are the large ones that spray water for fifteen or twenty feet.
After that free shower/ bike wash the trail widens for a brief stretch before it makes a hard left turn just short of DeBary Plantation Blvd.
At this turn there’s an small grassy area that locals have turned into a nice little parking area under the power lines. It marks the start of the next continuous section.
The road ride between Gemini Springs North trailhead and this grassy parking spot was 4.5 miles.
The south end of this next section of bike path was made possible by working with Duke Energy for a pathway beside their large solar array.
Past the solar panels the trail makes a sharp right hand turn with a view of the railroad tracks and into Blue Spring State Park.
At what used to be the end of this bike path before it was extended south, there is a bench where you could stop for a break and wait for a train to go by.
I just happened to be there taking photos when one went by and I could hear its horn off in the distance.
From here the trail picks up some elevation changes and passes a kiosk and a small sinkhole lake.
They trimmed back the bushes since the last time we rode through here and now the lake is visible from the trail.
Soon you can see the very large bridge for crossing over the railroad track. Just before the climb there is a turn off that takes you to another trail head.
Crossing the tracks and stopping on the west side, we have heard the sounds of Florida scrub jays below in the scrub below.
At the end of the downhill ramp, be prepared for a sharp left hand turn followed by a sharp right.
A bench and sign marks a bicycle/ pedestrian entrance into the Park. Have your cash ready if you want to enter the park, for there’s a $2 entrance fee and an iron ranger to collect it.
You don’t need to pay to ride the trail, however. Passing a nice covered pavilion, it climbs up along a fence separating it from the park road.
After a short stretch through a pine forest, it passing through a short tunnel under French Avenue. The trail to the left leads to the park’s main gate.
To continue north, I turned right. From here up to Lake Beresford, the trail is twisty and hilly, often completely under a canopy of trees.
Keep an eye out for the railroad tracks, some times you’ll be looking down at the tracks and then you’re looking up at them.
Unless you want to add another mile on the ride, turn right and pass under the railroad through a tunnel.
Lake Beresford Park is often very busy. We have been here more than once where the parking lot was full. So there’s a sign at the tunnel telling you to walk your bike through it.
If you do continue north past the tunnel, this central section of the Spring to Spring Trail winds its way to a dead end a half mile farther north.
It makes a tight circle around a banana tree and points you back south again. So you must use the tunnel to exit this piece of the Spring to Spring Trail to the Lake Beresford Park trailhead.
When I pulled into the trailhead, Sandy was off hiking in the northern part of the park. I topped off my water at our car.
While she suggested I use the paved loop trail in Lake Beresford Park to ride up to park’s north trailhead, I rode right out the main gate of this parking area and made a left onto Fatio Road.
It’s a narrow road without a bike lane. I was lucky and the few vehicles that I did share the road with were polite and friendly.
They waited until there was no one coming from the other direction before passing me.
At the first crossroads I reached, Fatio Road meets Beresford Road. I turned left onto it.
It’s another narrow rural road without a bike lane. Within a few minutes, it heads downhill and you can see Lake Beresford dead ahead.
The road makes a ninety degree turn to the right and heads north.
Riding north, I passed a few nice vintage homes and thought back to the first time I had ridden this road many years ago.
I was participating in an annual bicycle safari put on to raise funds for various charities. The route took us into DeLand.
As I was riding along I spotted a historic sign with an arrow to the Duvall Home. Not knowing how far out of the way it might be, I was still compelled to find it.
I looked forward to a seeing a large stately home. From my years driving through here as a camp counselor at nearby Camp La-No-Che, I knew that DeLand had many of these homes.
After a long ride off the main bike route I saw an old and unusual building. The sign in front of it confirmed that I had indeed reached the Duvall Home.
It wasn’t what I was expecting. It looked more like an old boarding house or hospital. Turning around, I had to laugh at myself.
This was well before cell phones existed. I had ventured off of the prescribed route. No one knew where I was, or where to look for me had I broken down.
I felt pretty silly for having gone out of my way. The turning point came as I rode past a church that was having a bake sale. It’s amazing what a few fresh cookies can do for your mood.
With the cookies to fuel me, I made it back with my group of riders, and we set up camp on the football field at DeLand High School.
A mile up the road, the next intersection is a little tricky. It comes at the end of a curve and there’s an unmarked railroad crossing not far from the stop sign.
The main road you meet here is Old New York Avenue. My first thought was to turn left, but that would have lead to the St. Johns River.
I turned into a dirt driveway and checked the map and directions that Sandy had sent to me.
Going straight across Old New York Avenue, I passed a beautifully restored Spanish Mission style home and a couple of abandoned homes from the same time period.
This road, Grand Avenue, took me to the roundabout on SR 44.
I haven’t crossed many roundabouts on my bicycle, so I was very cautious and rode as quickly as I could to get to the other side.
After the roundabout, I was still on Grand Avenue. It narrows greatly and has no bike lane at all. I stopped for a photo at the directional sign for Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge.
A slow rolling hill led up to an odd intersection. I ignored the mine entrance and turned left onto the next road, Minnesota. This is another narrow road but my time on it was brief.
Sandy said to watch for the arrow and sure enough, the road makes a sharp right. The bike path begins on the right side of that arrow sign.
My road ride from the trailhead at Lake Beresford Park to this bike path was 4.8 miles.
It makes the sharp turn next to the sign, leaving the mine behind and heading due north as the third and final segment of the Spring to Spring Trail.
The bike trail is a pleasant shaded path with rolling hills. The path winds between trees and then enters a more open grassy corridor.
In a couple places the bike path is split around gigantic live oak trees in the middle of the trail. There are directional arrows to safely make it one way traffic in each direction.
I came up and over one of the hills when I encountered people walking down the path right ahead of me, which was a surprise.
Manuevering around them, I didn’t click into the right gears soon enough for the next steep climb so I had to do an emergency drop into granny gear to make it uphill.
At the top of that hill was a crosswalk to a sidewalk leading into the woods on the other side of the road. So that’s where the people came from!
After my ride, Sandy and I stopped there to discover a big dirt parking area with a landscaped shelter. This “Trail Rest” is the only trailhead along this portion of the trail.
The bike path crosses Highland Park Rd to Highland Park Fish Camp. The hills become gentler as you pass a big fernery across the road.
After the next rise the bike path ends. There is a crosswalk to lead you across Grand Avenue, where you can continue on the sidewalk. I used the nice wide bike lane.
Entering Glenwood, the road is a reminder of old Florida, shaded by stately oaks. Grand Avenue is a divided two lane road with plants and trees planted in the median.
From this point on, all the surroundings are residential. When I finally reached the Duvall Home, I was still marveling that I’d ridden this far off SR 44 to see it years ago.
The bike path began again soon after it. I continued north past nice homes and through neighborhoods with very little traffic.
One of the side roads leads to Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, with the visitor center visible through the trees.
Once in DeLeon Springs, the bike path crosses to the west side of Grand Avenue again and then narrows down to a sidewalk.
I was stopped at a T intersection where the sidewalk ends, wondering what to do next. I pulled up the GPS on my phone and saw De Leon Springs State Park wasn’t far.
Then I heard a car horn honk. It was Sandy. She was driving to meet me at the end of my ride and was puzzling over the same thing.
We turned right and made a quick left on the next street. She turned off on Audubon and quickly called me. “The bike path is over here!”
I turned off on the next street to reach Ponce De Leon Blvd and sure enough, there it was on the opposite side of the road. It looked brand new.
She’d gotten ahead of me so I rode right over the railroad tracks and into the front entrance of De Leon Springs State Park before I got her text.
She was waiting at Chuck Lennon Park for me since she couldn’t find our state park pass. So I circled back out of the state park and rode around the corner up Burt’s Park Road.
That last stretch along the entrance road at Chuck Lennon Park was entirely in the sun. But when I got to the trailhead, she had a picnic lunch waiting.
We looked at the maps. Someday the St. Johns River to Sea Loop will continue north along SR 3 to Barberville and connect to Putnam County.
But for now, I was just glad to complete the Spring to Spring Trail with this 25.6 mile ride.
Here are all our details on all of the segments of the Spring to Spring Trail
A paved bike path to link Volusia County’s major springs, the Spring to Spring Trail provides a growing network of trail and park connectivity
Linking Green Springs to Gemini Springs to Lake Monroe, the southern portion of the Spring to Spring Trail is also an important link in the Florida Coast to Coast Trail
Ride this surprisingly hilly bike path through tunnels of live oaks and Florida scrub-jay habitat while marveling at the beauty of the St. Johns River bluffs near Blue Spring
Virtual end-to-end ride, south to north