The Pinellas Trail is perhaps one of the most popular trails in Florida. Stretching from Tarpon Springs on the north to its southernmost point in St. Petersburg, it snakes through some of Pinellas County's most picturesque parks, scenic coastal areas and residential neighborhoods.
The trail winds through Florida's most densely populated county for 47 miles, with 34 miles of it using an old railroad easement. It not only provides hiking opportunities, but also serves as a recreational playground of sorts for locals. The trail is easily wide enough for all recreational use, and because it is paved, hikers share the trail with bikers and in-line roller skaters. In addition, it is one of the few Florida trails that is completely handicap accessible. Although the trail provides underpasses and overpasses at some of the busiest intersections, allowing trail-goers to avoid dangerous traffic, the trail does cross some surface roadways.
The northern portion of the trail is perhaps the most scenic, as it juts close to the shore with views of some of Tampa Bay's most beautiful barrier islands — Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island, both popular Florida State Parks. In fact, Honeymoon Island is an easy jaunt across a scenic causeway for those wishing to make the trip.
Trail-goers will find the southern section more urban with a variety of nearby shopping along the way. Also, possible side trips that could include Heritage Village in Largo and other interesting stops.
Among the trail's amenities are bike racks and refreshment stops, as well as service stations, restaurants, bike shops and pay phones.
Pinellas Trail Details
A convenient, pocket-sized flip chart map on navigating the Pinellas Trail offers details on rest stops, service stations, restaurants, pay phones (does anyone actually use these anymore?), bicycle shops, park areas, etc. It is available at area libraries, chambers of commerce, bicycle shops, or at the Pinellas County Courthouse Information Desk. For more information, call 727-464-8200 or write to the Pinellas County Planning Department, 310 Court Street, Clearwater, FL 33756.
The following trail rules are to be observed:
- Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic controls and signals.
- Bikers under age 16 must wear a helmet.
- Bicyclists are not allowed to wear headphones at any time.
- Electric bicycles are prohibited, as are electric vehicles (except electric wheelchairs).
- Horses are prohibited.
- Pets are allowed, but must be kept on a six foot leash and under control at all times.
Pinellas Trail Tips:
- Although the trail is patrolled, always use sensible safety precautions, including not hiking alone. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Carefully navigate busy intersections.
- Emergency decals are placed approximately every 200 feet along the trail. In case of emergency, call 911 and state the nearest decal location number. It will help first responders to more easily find you.
- Always use sunscreen, even on cloudy days.
- Be sure to bring along plenty of water. The heat may be your enemy in all but three months in the winter (December, January and February).
- Afternoon and early evening thunderstorms are frequent during the months of May through August. Lightning is a serious risk during these thunderstorms. Take cover, but avoid standing under tall trees.
- Even though the trail is paved and is in an urban setting, much of it is surrounded by green space that can harbor insects and critters (although not too common, think snakes, racoons and alligators). While sightings are rare, coyotes have been spotted throughout the county; and, according to Pinellas County officials, they are here to stay. Avoid the trail during the early morning and at dusk, particularly if accompanied by your pet.