There is no better way to explore the 'land side' of the outdoors in the area than by bicycle. From the Cape Haze Pioneer trail to pretty much all of Punta Gorda, you'll find pedal power is the way to go.
Cape Haze Pioneer Trail
The Cape Haze Pioneer Trail is a Rails-To-Trails conversion of the historic rail line that ran to the tip of Boca Grande. This rail line once was one of the critical backbones that linked the phosphate industry in Florida to the rest of the world, including the Port of Boca Grande, the original deep-water. History aside, it now serves as an incredible 8 mile journey that runs the length of the Cape Haze peninsula, from SR-776 (north) to Placida (south). Nature abounds on the peninsula as you'll cross salt and fresh water creeks on converted rail bridges. Among other birds, Roseate Spoonbills, Ospreys and Bald Eagles are not uncommon in the area. There are several parking locations on the trail, including a Cape Haze Pioneer Trail Park at the northern trail head. Multi-use pathways have also been extended into nearby neighborhoods, Rotonda West and South Gulf Cove, so if you're staying in a vacation rental in either of those neighborhoods, you may not need your car for days at a time. Drop off the trail onto surface roads in Placida and cross the Boca Grande Causeway ($3 toll for cyclists) to pick up the Boca Grande Rails-To-Trails continuation that runs an additional 6 miles, the length of the island. In March 2019, we drove a 360 degree Street View™ authorized camera down the trail (as well as a lot of other, so feel free to jump into Google Maps and explore! Click here to jump into Street View™ directly on to one of the bridges along the trail.
Punta Gorda Pathways
Punta Gorda is, by far, one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the United States. Punta Gorda Pathways connect throughout the city to provide a bicycle friendly transportation network. The most well known is probably Harborwalk, running two and half miles along... you guessed it, Charlotte Harbor. Linear Park is built on a historic Railroad bed that was abandoned in the 1890s and runs about 1 mile through picturesque neighborhoods in Punta Gorda from Fishermen's Village to Tamiami Trail. The "Shared Use Path" connects the heart of the city with neighborhoods on the south side of the city and runs about 4 miles.
Free Bicycle Loan Program in Punta Gorda
But before you start worrying about the logistics of getting your bike to Punta Gorda, never fear. Punta Gorda initiated the State's first Free Bicycle Loaner Program. Show up to any one of several locations, show your ID and credit card (copies will be returned when the bike is returned) and set off on your adventure, free of charge.
America's first solar-powered town, Babcock Ranch, also offers bicycle rentals, and visitors are invited to pedal around Sunset Trail, the first few miles of the new trail system, or Lake Timber and Founder's Square.
There are many other places to ride in the area, including some long rides that reach well out into the beautiful rural areas of Charlotte County. Check out our digital Cycling Guide for more information.