Florida's West Coast Secret
The Legacy Bike Trail stretches from Culverhouse Nature Park in Sarasota and ends on the coast, more than 10 miles away, in Shamrock Park in Venice. What makes this one of the best bikeways is that it is all paved and two meters wide. Most of the path is flat, creating the ideal path for racing bikes, roller blades, and jogging.
It is unique. Nothing else in Florida compares to it, and very few places in the USA offer over 10 miles of bikeway that is uninterrupted by traffic intersections and cars. The bikeway is built where an old railroad line was abandoned and sold to Sarasota in 2004. The paved bikeway cost over $11 million and four years to create and opened in 2008.
From Culverhouse Park in Sarasota, the bikeway offers plenty of nature to see as it moves through Oscar Scherer State Park, but the best part to come is the Venice portion of the trail. Called the "Venetian Waterway," this portion begins at the Venice train depot (now used as a bus depot) and ends at the ocean about four miles away at Casperson Beach Park or Shamrock Park. As one travels on either side of the Intracoastal Waterway, boats travel in either direction and traffic bridges raise. The wildlife is more varied with iguanas, pelicans, turtles, and every so often, a gator. Also interesting is the Venice airport, which runs adjacent to the path.
The ending is equally interesting. Depending on which side one travels, the rider can end up at Casperson Beach, which is nice, or at Shamrock Park on the other side of the waterway, which offers a great playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, and hiking paths.
Access to the most scenic part of the bikeway in Venice is as follows:
- Venice Train Depot (go south toward ocean)
- Caspersen Beach Park (go north away from ocean)
- Shamrock Park (go north away from ocean)
- Patriots Park (go south over Hwy 41 using bridge to ocean)
- Nokomis Park (go south over Hwy 41 using bridge to ocean)
Depending how fast you travel, from the Venice Train Deport to the ocean will take 30-60 min. If you begin at the depot and want to end up at Caspersen, you will need to cross over the waterway at the bridge near Marine Max (boat dock and sales) and continue south. If you do not cross over, you will end up at Shamrock Park and be mystified about how to get to the beach!