As the flattest state in the union, you’d think Florida wouldn’t have much to offer in the way of mountain biking.
After all, it doesn’t even really have any mountains. Its Sugarloaf mountain rises only 312 feet above sea level. But, as well know, mountain bike trails don’t need mountains and Florida has plenty of beautiful trail systems that prove that.
Sometimes a lack of terrain breeds creativity and that’s what you see in some of Florida’s best mountain biking, including the Vortex trail, which uses expertly engineered wooden features to add elevation to a flat area. Such is also the case with Graham Swamp, which uses built up dirt berms and wood features to create huge jumps for massive air.
And while they may be little in the way of elevation change, you’ll also find few roots and rocks on these hard packed and fast Florida trails. And hey, when you’re riding flat trails with no climbs, such as Munson Hills in Tallahassee, you can go fast for a long time.
Just remember, you’re in Florida. So, when riding Mala Compra, located on Florida’s Palm Coast, don’t be surprised if you find an alligator blocking the singletrack.
Here are 10 of the best mountain bike trails in Florida.
1. Pinehurst MTB Trail, Greenacres
What Florida MTB trails lack in altitude (Britton Hill, the highest point, is only 345 feet above sea level), they more than make up for in convenience and quality. Pinehurst is a short trail, with a mere 3 feet in altitude gain overall.
But in the four miles of its length, there are berms, log piles, palm roots, and drops for variety and sharpening skills, all amid the lush greenery of Okeeheelee Park.
Those features make it a perfect place to keep yourself in good form before heading off to more complicated tracks, and the loop has plenty of value for repeated rides. It includes both moderate and difficult sections to provide a varied challenge.
2. Rollercoaster, Lithia
Part of the vast web of trails running throughout Central Florida’s prized Alafia River State Park, Rollercoaster is widely considered to be one of the best trails in the park, if not the state.
As the name implies, the key distinguishing feature of this trail is the series of hectic ups-and-downs along most of its length which follow the initial sandy zig-zags. With a slow speed, beginners can cope with this track while building skill, agility, and confidence.
More advanced riders can push themselves by picking up speed and testing their ability to dodge obstacles, tackle drops, and overcome some tight turns and berms.
Rollercoaster is also a popular spot for its tabletop jump, an ideal place for a solid session.
3. Markham Park Full Lap, Weston
Markham Park is a 669-acre tract wedged between Miami and the edge of the Everglades, with fairly even elevation throughout and a stunning variety of terrain and natural and artificial features.
The park’s full loop stretches for 10.5 miles with the popular warmup lap included. Although the full network includes easy, intermediate, and difficult sections, completing the full lap can pose a challenge for developing riders while remaining a satisfying workout for more experienced folks.
Being near some of Florida’s most famed swamps, the natural terrain features lots of dark forest, plenty of tricky roots and rocks, as well as purpose-built drops and berms throughout.
Keep in mind that Broward County Parks and Recreation, the managers of the park, require visitors to sign in and purchase an access card before you can hit the trail.
4. Graham Swamp, Flagler Beach
Located between Daytona Beach and St. Augustine, this one-way trail on Florida’s east coast is further proof that low altitude doesn’t haven’t to mean a dull ride.
Graham Swamp features a series of short, sharp ascents and descents paved in crushed shell and sand which can test even seasoned riders’ endurance, and while it might be a good way for intermediate riders to level up, beginners should give it a miss.
During the initial bout of climbs, riders will have to overcome some complicated rooty, rocky segments before arriving at a series of ladder bridges passing over larger boulders.
Apart from being a terrific ride for confident, experienced cyclists, this trail is equidistant to at least half a dozen major cities including Orlando and Jacksonville, making it easily accessible to a large number of people.
5. Soldier's Creek, Winter Springs
A mixed-use trail in Orlando’s northern suburbs, Soldier’s Creek is among the easier trails in Florida’s top ten, with most sections rated green apart from a handful of intricate roots and rocks on the ascents.
The gentleness of the trail, combined with its short length, options for use by hikers and runners, and its convenient location, make it a great trail for short rides for beginners to cut their teeth. More advanced riders may also find it a refreshing route for morning rides.
Also worth noting is the vibrant vegetation characteristic of Orlando, with vivid flowers and palms along the route’s length.
6. Munson Hills, Woodville
Another great option for beginners, Munson Hills trail reasonably long at over 8 miles, situated in the Florida Panhandle’s pride and joy, Apalachicola National Forest.
Although there’s not much variety in the terrain, it’s an easy trail to get in some mileage and build stamina and confidence.
The red clay surface will allow for fairly easy, frictionless rides through stunning scenery. Forking into eastern and western branches, the trail includes some fairly simple downhill slopes, sandy patches, moderately challenging turns, and an area of close-packed pines which will require some agility to get through at speed.
While this area routinely averages over 100°F in the summer, there’s a water point roughly 1.5 miles south of the trailhead, so you won’t have to worry about coming fully stocked with water for the full loop.
7. Mala Compra, Palm Coast
The name of this trail, taken from the nearby plantation site, may mean Bad Bargain, but that shouldn’t discourage the more daring MTB riders out there.
Largely intermediate difficulty with red-graded difficult sections in the middle, Mala Compra incorporates tough short climbs followed by descents that will require some finesse to get through comfortably.
The surface is hardpack throughout under a heavy canopy, so the ride shouldn’t be plagued by the swampy mud common on wetter trails, and riders will be protected from the Florida sun.
Ladder bridges cross several areas of marshy ground and creek, and the last leg of the route is covered in challenging routes to keep things lively all the way to the end.
8. Vortex, Belleview
The centerpiece of Ocala’s famed Santos network of trails, Vortex is carved out of an old limestone quarry with all the challenging terrain that that implies. This trail boasts some of the biggest drops and most challenging terrain in the entire state.
Included are the 20 foot D1 drop and the notorious Banana Hammock, a thrilling up-and-down wooden feature.
In addition, Vortex is home to the Corkscrew, a series of hairpin turns sharp and tough enough to push even the most seasoned riders off of the bike saddle.
Due to the skill required to negotiate the complex terrain and significant uphill features, it’s best to tackle this trail only after you’ve reached a high level of skill.
9. Ridgeline, Boyette
Balm Boyette Scrub Preserve, located in the largely rural area southeast of Tampa, is something of a best-kept secret in Florida MTB.
Once home to clusters of phosphate mines, trails like Ridgeline were carved out of the derelict remains of this activity to take advantage of the breathtaking descents and smooth, flowy terrain. This relatively short track is best tackled at high speed to maximize the effect of the steep, roller coaster-like drops.
Rated difficult for the toughness of the climbs, it’s not a very technical trail, but the momentum and speed inherent to it make it a must-visit. Nearby is the ever-popular Alafia River State Park, which often draws most of the attention from this trail and leaves it relatively traffic-free.
10. West Delray Trail, Villages of Oriole
Rather than give in to Florida’s uniform flatness, the volunteers who maintain this trail have added an impressive array of artificial features including turns, mounds, rises, and drops since its construction.
Also taken full advantage of are the naturally-occurring rocks and roots which provide additional light technical challenges. Additional hills are being added to the central section, while the beginning of the track is deceptively easy before giving way to the more complicated territory.
This trail runs through humid tropical nature including lakes and canopied swamps, with lots of small animals and insects along the way. Much of the surface is sandy, and it’s normally closed in the summer months due to rain.