roots and river ledges and alligators

We tried a new mountain bike trail today that had mixed reviews from recommenders, a few of whom even told us not bother with the place. After riding 10 miles today, my first impression  is to say, “I beg to differ!”

Carter Road, as the locals still call it, has been renamed to Loyce E. Harpe Park. There are easy trails (marked with yellow) around the edges, but you really need to get onto the intermediate (blue)  and advanced trails (red) to appreciate this place. Evidently built on the site of an old phospahte mine, these trails take you onto ledges and out onto points of land where you are surrounded by water on all sides, with magestic trees dripping with moss and other magical Florida foliage. The trails are technical, with many snarls of roots on the ups and downs, with tight twist turns, but I am telling you FUN!

We met our trail friends, Joe and Katie, from West Virgina at the trailhead. Once again, I stuck  to the intermediate and was challenged, but succussful. Katie mainly rode the yellows, and found  those of less interest than the same-rated trails at Alafia and Balm Boyette and less well-organized. Bob and Joe rode all the trails and found the reds to live up to the advanced ratings. Steep! Narrow! And with little margin for error (swimming, anyone?) The Three Fingers are among the signature challenges here, with the difficulty stepped up at each finger. And don’t forger Big Mama, named after the 14 foot alligator that supposedly lives in the waters below.

Verdict? Yup, we’ll go again.

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