The Baseline Trail is located at 4255 S.E. 58th Avenue in Ocala Florida, and is part of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. My first visit here was 3-1-12, and my second visit was 11-28-12. It was a long drive from Sarasota. 313 miles total. But I would do it again anytime. This trail was incredible and far exceeded my expectations. The scenery was magnificent and the many twists and turns makes this a really fun place for biking. Marion County has done an incredible job at making this a fantastic place to bike. Expect to see lots of young pine trees here at the beginning section of the trail. All very green and beautiful. Then it will branch off into the taller and older pine trees. Then the woods gets very sparse with lots of primitive trails everywhere that invite a closer look for exploring. Also the elevation is varied here with most being down hill. That I really liked. There is no water along the trail. But most the trailheads have portable toilets.
I really love this trail. With only five miles of pavement it is not very long, but many ride it 2-3 times per visit. Plus the wooded sections at the Ship Canal Trail will offer you a chance to hike and explore the incredibly scenic and beautiful trails. With lots of clearing among the pine trees, many cannot resist stopping their bikes to investigate further. And all the people I saw and met were very friendly. Another bonus is free parking here. No fee? That’s right no fee. Very unusual for sure. A large playground area is here along with many picnic shelters and tables. Also a large pavilion with rest rooms (however these were locked on my visit but portable toilets were available) The parking area at the Baseline Trailhead is huge. No problem finding a spot. So visit and ride the Baseline Trail soon. I highly recommend it. More than a two thumbs up rating for sure.
Many people probably do not know or have heard of the interesting history of the Florida Barge Canal. So here is the short version. The federal government in the early 1900′s wanted to cut a massive slice through the state of Florida so ships and barges could travel between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. So between 1909-1913 the Army Corp of Engineers worked on this project. They determined a canal would have no value. But politicians wanted it anyway. Finally in 1935 President Roosevelt gave money and authorization to start building. The canal was to be 171 miles long, 30 feet deep, and 250 feet wide. However in 1936 Congress defunded the project.
In 1964 President Johnson green lighted building the canal. Then in 1970 funding was cut 50% due to the Vietnam war. After serious concern about the damage to the environment by many people and groups in 69-70, in January 1971 a U.S. District Court halted the project. Four days later President Nixon sided with the court. About 28% of the canal was completed, with the land and environment finally being spared from massive destruction. Evidence of this project can still be seen today with four large columns still standing and visible in Ocala Florida.
Stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River, the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway occupies much of the land formerly known as the Cross Florida Barge Canal. This 110-mile corridor encompasses a variety of natural habitats and offers an array of trails and recreation areas where visitors can experience Florida’s premier greenway.
The Baseline Road Trailhead provides access to a paved trail. It offers restrooms, potable water, a picnic pavilion, wheelchair access, and plenty of parking.The paved trail is situated along former pastures that are currently being restored to original longleaf pine sandhill community.
There are a total of five trailheads at the Baseline Trail.
1-Baseline Trailhead (parking available)
2-Teak Way Trailhead (no parking available)
3-Pecan Pass Trailhead (no parking available))
4-S.E. 64th Avenue Road Trailhead (parking available)
5-Banyan Road Trailhead (parking available)
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