Boca Grande Bike Path
|Boca Grande Bike Path|
|Length||6.5 mi (10.5 km)|
|Location||Boca Grande, Florida, United States|
|Trailheads||Boca Grande Causeway|
Gasparilla Island State Park
|Right of way||Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway|
The Boca Grande Bike Path is a 6.5 mile multi-use path in Boca Grande, Florida on Gasparilla Island. The northern portion of the path runs on the former right of way of the Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway, which operated on Gasparilla Island from 1907 to 1981. As Florida's first rail trail, it was principally built for bicycles, but pedestrians also use it. Golf carts are also permitted on the path. Another trail exists on the mainland portion of the railroad line known as the Cape Haze Pioneer Trail.
The former Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway was abandoned in 1981 after the closure of the phosphate port on the south end of the island. Bayard Sharp, an heir of the Du Pont family who controlled the Gasparilla Inn, saw the need for a bike path after one of his employees had been killed on a bicycle on the island. Sharp managed to acquire the railroad's right of way and built the path on it. The trail was dedicated on February 23, 1985. The Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association, a non-profit organization based on the island, currently operates the path.
The Boca Grande Bike Path begins at the north end of Gasparilla Island just south of the Boca Grande Causeway. It parallels Gasparilla Road from the causeway to downtown Boca Grande, where it runs through the downtown area and passes the historic Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway Depot. A little ways south of the depot, the path travels west off the railroad path and continues south along Gulf Boulevard south past Gasparilla Island Lights and terminating at Gasparilla Island State Park.
Points of interest
- Boca Grande Fishing Pier
- Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway Depot
- Gasparilla Island Lights
- Gasparilla Island State Park
- Turner, Gregg M. (December 1, 1999). Railroads of Southwest Florida. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing.
- Two Florida Trails, Worlds Apart
- North Captiva: Boca Grande History Archived January 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Biking the Gasparilla Island Trail – Boca Grande, Florida (Rural Florida Living: Celebrating the Rural Florida Lifestyle)