The Legacy Trail, Impressions by Sandy Estabrook, Part II

- Sarasota Legacy Trail, Northern Section
First Update, Part II - Sarasota at Bahia Vista St. to Palmer Ranch

Over ten years ago 2011, the southern section of the Legacy Trail was completed which then terminated at Culverhouse Nature Preserve at Palmer Ranch from points south. It’s all written about in Part I.

One thing I can add is, the Trails opening back then, was the motivation for a new bike and we lived near the access on Central Sarasota Parkway. Well today we live even closer to the trail near the Gypsy St.
entrance, and like before, I bought a new bike - a Pedego electric. Being on this planet for eight decades, I figure I’m allowed to cheat a little.

Back in 2017 the Sarasota County Commission voted to buy 2.7 miles of unused railroad bed. The County also agreed to float a $65 million bond issue for the Trails construction including 2 bike only bridges over the six lane roads, to be voted on by county citizens. The bond issued passed overwhelmingly by 70.6 percent. Shortly their after construction got underway removing the old railroad tracks, grading and beginning paving. By Summer 2021 the northern extension of the legacy trail opened with all sorts of amenities fulfilling a dream for its bikers - now connecting the City of Sarasota to its previous terminus the Culverhouse Nature Preserve at Palmer Ranch and points south - down to Venice

At this writing (07/15) its northern terminus is at Bahia Vista St. which is a perfect beginning or ending of your journey in any case. Payne Park, its official northern terminus, downtown on the eastern edge of the city, is not yet connected. Two bike only trestles are being constructed to replace the old dilapidated railroad trestles which are expected to be complete sometime this fall. Both trestles cross tributaries of Philippi Creek which is of some renown in Sarasota, as they join and flow all the way to the Intercostal Waterway and Gulf of Mexico.

Pinecraft Village

  As a reminder, every mile of the Legacy Trail is marked with a granite obelisk. The numbers are in the 800's, beginning at Richmond Virginia, the railroad's one time northern terminus. You'll have to do the math. You will also notice yellow ovals every .5 miles in the center of the roadway. The Milage indicated here is the distance to the US 41 bridge in Venice and to be referenced in emergency.
Bahia Vista St. is a perfect beginning or ending of your journey in any case. Just west of the Legacy Trail on Bahia Vista a few blocks, is the Pinecraft Neighborhood, a Mennonite snowbird community with its restaurants, markets and shops. If you haven’t already visited, it’s definitely worth a stop, especially in season and even with your car.

Heading south from Bahia Vista, one will be passing through the older part of Sarasota and behind back yards on both sides with commercial areas popping up, where railroad sidings used to be. Also. major cross streets are more frequent in the north section of the trail. Two are major six lane roads which will have exclusive bike bridges scheduled to be built by 2024. They are Bee Ridge Rd and Clark Rd (St. Rd. 72). Both connect with Interstate 75. Until then they will have traffic lights installed for the bikers. Other east west heavily trafficked four lane roads of concern are Webber Rd with its trailhead. Then their is Wilkinson, and Proctor Rd. and lastly before Clark the Trailhead at Ashton Rd.

I would say the Culverhouse Nature Park, a mile south of Clark Road (St. Rd. 72) which transverses the state, is the embarkation between urban and rural Sarasota, or at least it used to be when first written about in Part I. In this regard I should profess my purpose for bicycling. In two words, explore and reconnoitre. I dont dress in spandex for the occasion, nor wear a helmet. I'm not trying to hit a new fitbit personal best. Even after all this time, I pedal along and observe as you will no doubt detect in Part I which was my true inspiration as it was virgin territory over a decade ago. Then I would cruise along looking for something I’ve not seen before - a new and unusual tree or flowering plant, an opening in the foliage to a new vista.

South of Clark Rd things open up and crossroads are far in between. Surrounding homes are on more spacious lots with farther setbacks. Your first stop will be the Culverhouse Community Garden and Nature Park. It is here where one will jump back in time for the rest and most interesting part of the Legacy Trail.

For me, the Northern extension provides none of the above, it’s just a pleasant path for biking and or access to and from downtown to where Florida begins, heading south at Palmer Ranch. My Part I, written 12 years ago, is pretty much unedited, pictures and all, to serve as a reminder as how things used to be.

A home along the way

Rest Area at Wilkinson Rd.

A home along the way.

The Northern Trail's width is the same as the original southern Part of the Trail, however there is and unpaved section to one side in most parts. A word of caution: Both sides drop off abruptly 3 feet to culverts which are often filled with water as shown. Click to Enlarge

A home along the way

For Legacy Trail lovers, why not buy a piece? We’ve owned a two foot wide swath across the trail, one each at the coordinates below since January 2018. It is located approximately “145 feet north of the edge of the asphalt on the turnaround at the north end of the trail" at that time. A cut and paste of the coordinates (27.252709, -82.476373) into Google Earth will pin point it for you.

If you are interested, it is administered by Friends of the Legacy Trail. 100% of the money received, currently approaching $100,000 from their campaign, will be used to help fund construction and amenities of The Legacy Trail Extension. Learn More here.

In case you are wondering, NO, you can not pick your own coordinates - they just continue on from where last sold and, NO, you can not set up a toll booth.