Here in Florida, we struggle with the unfair notion that everything is pancake flat. But a ride on the SWAMP club-maintained trails here will surely leave riders thinking otherwise.
Located near Brooksville on Croom-Rital Road, these singletrack mountain bike trails are undoubtedly some of the best in the state.
Two loop trails, with connectors, add up to 55 miles of riding. That's probably more than most of us can do in a day, but there are plenty of trailheads to break things into shorter rides.
In fact, this is Florida's longest contiguous singletrack mountain bike trail, and is a well-used proving ground for riders of all skill levels, not to mention a spot where adventure racers head to get in strenuous training rides.
The two main trailheads for the Croom trails are located at the Tucker Hill Firetower (start the 12 mile loop here) and further down Croom-Rital Road where the Withlacoochee State Trail crosses. You can't miss it.
By the Numbers:
Two loops of singletrack trail - one is 12 miles, the other is 35 miles. Add in connector trails, and it's one huge 55-mile network.
What to Expect:
The trails are generally well packed, but be ready for some sandy sections and uphill battles in some areas. While mostly forested, the trail can get quite a bit of sun, especially in the more open pine flatwoods, which makes up the bulk of the Withlacoochee State Forest. The trails are generally uncrowded, and even if a couple of the trailheads are full you might not see anyone while riding.
What to Bring:
You might want to leave the big-box store bikes at home and go for a little higher-quality ride for these trails. Helmets are always required. Make sure to bring plenty of water (I use a 3-liter reservoir in my pack), sunscreen, sunglasses and clothing appropriate for the weather.
For detailed maps, directions and trail descriptions visit http://www.swampclub.org/locations.htm#Croom.