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Circling the Green Swamp - A Florida Motorcycle Adventure


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Cypress Stands, Wildlife and Twisty Roads Await You on Florida's Green Swamp Motorcycle Tour

Florida Motorcycle Roads - Circling the Green Swamp

 

The ride map starts and ends in Zephyrhills, Florida.

From the Tampabay area take the Fletcher Road exit from I-75 and head east on Morris Bridge Road.

For access from Plant City, Lakeland and Orlando take I-4 to SR-39 in Plant City.

There are plenty of twisty sections and miles of old Florida back roads and scenery. All roads are paved and road conditions are good to excellent, however there are few rough spots in places on the more rural roads.

The total ride route distance is about 130 miles, almost all of which is on 2-lane backroads.

Due to the rural nature of this ride fuel stops can be limited, especially on the eastern portion of the ride.

Zephyrhills Airport and Depot Museum

The Zephyrhills airport is an international skydiving and glider destination and you will often see multiple divers making jumps over the airport.

The Zephyrhills Depot Museum is housed in the restored 1927 Atlantic Cost Railroad Depot just down the road from the airport. The building features old Florida architecture with extended eaves and covered outdoor areas for protection from the sun and summer rains. There is also a small park with a nice picnic area out back.

The hours of operation are limited with the museum open Thursday and Friday 9:00am to 1:00pm and Saturday 9:00am until 12:00 noon.

While the museum was closed during our visit it looks like it may be worth a look. It would certainly provided a place to duck out of a sudden summer thunderstorm or a picnic stop out of the sun on hotter days.

Old Dade City Road

The ride starts in earnest on Old Dade City Road, which provides you with sweepers and less densely populated areas.
The road gets twisty in places with plenty of canopy road coverage and Spanish moss.
Large open fields line much of old Dade City Road as it twists its way south along the edge of the Green Swamp
Several side roads off Old Dade City Road provide a chance to ride some real Old Florida roads that twist through the woods.
There's even a tricky diminishing radius turn back here. You can't see it in the picture but the turn bends back about 130 degrees once you enter it.
Notice the gouges in the road where car undercarriages hit the road when cage drivers misjudged how tight this turn is.
A sample of some of the very nice S-curves you'll find on the offshoots on the southern portion of this ride.
Luckily most of the roads on this ride are very lightly traveled. This section of canopy road is on the southern end of the ride on Old Dade City Road,
Our picture run was in late December and some of the trees along the route forgot they were in Florida and were trying to put on a little fall color show.

Rockridge Road

Use EXTREME CAUTION making the left onto Rockridge Road.

If you look closely at the picture you'll see there is very LIMITED sight distance for oncoming traffic.

From the looks of the skid marks and the anti-freeze stains it looks like a few people haven't paid enough attention here.

Be careful!
Heading north on the southern end of Rockridge Road there's this pretty S-curve that crosses a small bridge.
Just past that bridge you'll past Sherrouse Rd on the left (if you took the optional twisties section you'll have already seen this).

On the right is a relatively new development of manufactured homes. Hopefully the current real estate market will keep this area from growing any more. If not expect future development to take over this area.

Definitely enjoy this ride while you can!
On the optional twisty bits watch out for locals entering the road from their homes. I think that the presence of bikes out here sometimes startles them more than they startle us.
I usually try to acknowledge any consideration with a friendly wave (and a more restrained riding style). Remember that all it takes to ruin these rides for us is a couple of aggravated landowners complaining to the local constabulary.

The driver of this Expedition actually smiled when I waved as I moved to the left to give them plenty of room. I'm sure they were more surprised than I was as they pulled past the high hedge row obscuring both of our lines of site.
Being a little cautious earlier let me enjoy the curves further down the road.
Be ready for just about any vehicle being on the road. Golf carts and ATV's seem to be all the rage out here.

Notice the skinny front tires and wide rear slicks on this drag cart! I'm not quite sure if I was getting a friendly, envious or WTF look here.

There are Limited Fuel Stops on the East Side of the Green Swamp

There's gas at Rockridge and US-98. If you have limited fuel capacity now's a good time to fill up! It will be a while before you see another gas station.
This is the left turn off to stay on Rockridge Road north of US-98.

CAUTION: This is a deceptive turn! When you initially approach it is not readily apparent you must make a SHARP LEFT onto the road, you will be tempted to simply veer off to the left.

Additionally the speed limit on this stretch of road is 60 MPH, so expect oncoming traffic to be approaching at least that fast. Combined with your speed approaching the turn you could easily have a closing speed of 100+ MPH, with oncoming traffic obscured by the bend in the road!

BE CAREFUL!
Immediately after turning left to continue on Rockridge road you know something's different. The pavement's not as well maintained and the number of residences lining the road and the amount of traffic drops dramatically.
Large open fields line Rockridge road as it runs along the border of the protected lands of the Green Swamp.

Cypress stands like this are all along the road.
The northern part of Rockridge road obviously doesn't get the same treatment for the DOT as most of the other roads on this ride. You'll find the paving coarser, frequent patches and bumps and dips in some corners.

Keep the pace reasonable and expect lower traction than you would on a more civilized road and you'll find this one of the best rides in Florida.
Rusty old tin roofs, oaks with spanish moss and tight sweepers take you back in time to a different, more motorcycle friendly Florida.

Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve

I stopped at the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve for a quick snack and to check in with the home front. I actually got a pretty decent signal on my cell phone.
The area has been improved somewhat since our last visit. Hiking trails appear to have been improved and marked, although I haven't yet had a chance to try them. There is also primitive camping without facilities. I'll be checking out off-the-bike activities later this winter and will post what I find.

CAUTION: This is a multi-use area so if you decide to go hiking check the hunting season schedule (check the Resources links at the top of this page). General hunting season is from mid-November to Mid-January. There are also other designated hunts, so as a minimum it's always a good idea to wear an orange or other high visibility vest when hiking in these areas.
If you decide to hike or picnic don't say you weren't warned!
The parking area provides access to hiking on the Florida Trail.
Even if you don’t go hiking you can enjoy this rural area during your ride.

Note the coarse aggregate used in the road construction. You'll notice a slightly rougher ride, more road noise and somewhat less traction so be careful!

One of the Few Wood Bridges in Florida is Now Gone (RIP)

Sadly the wood bridge has been replaced by the standard concrete fare boring us everywhere else in the state.

I imagine the upkeep on a wooden bridge in Florida was probably a problem, but I hated to learn this one is gone. Several reader have updated me on this the last few months and I thought I'd updated the site earlier. Sorry if you rode the ride and didn't find this touch of Old Florida before it disappeared.

I'm leaving the picture up for old times sake.

This was the one lane wooden bridge on Rockridge Rd. This bridge really gave the ride a unique feel. It's the only wooden bridge we'd ever found in this part of Florida.

Just another winter day on a perfect Florida Motorcycle Ride!
And they say there aren't any curvy roads in Florida!
SR-33 (Commonwealth Ave N) connects the southern end of this ride with the northern portion. This modernized road has had most of the curves engineered out of it. We always see a lot more motorcycles on this road than the rest of the ride. Too bad they're missing the best part of the ride!

Oil Well Road

On your ride north on SR-33 Oil Well Road makes a fun little in-and-out ride on a twisty road with nice new asphalt.

About 2.5 miles each way it's the way we wish every back road in Florida could be. Just remember that you'll be going back the same way you came so keep it civilized and don't rile the natives!

Note: The turn around is sand covered and should be negotiated carefully if you're not used to loose surface riding.

In case you were wondering there actually was an oil well drilled here in the mid 1930's!

Lake Erie Road

Lake Erie Road provides a beautiful and serene alternative route as you head north and west of SR-33.

As always on these back roads expect to find dually pickups towing all sorts of trailers. Make their life easier (and keep them from complaining about the motorcycles) by giving them plenty of room and a friendly wave. You'll find that most will reciprocate the gesture.
You'll be nicely rewarded for using the road less traveled by a scenic twisty ride on a rarely ridden Florida back road.
This Florida motorcycle road takes you through rolling hills and along quiet lakes and fields.
Like many of Florida's best motorcycle roads this ride takes you through areas where you are quite likely to happen on riders of a different sort. Do you best to pass calmly by horse riders and avoid startling their mounts.

Sloans Ridge Road

Sloan's Ridge Road shows some wear and is rough compared to most of the other roads on this ride.
The old Florida feel and scenery more than make up for it though!
Not to mention some great twists and turns on a deserted road.

Douglas Road

Douglas Road heading north to Tuscanooga Rd.
Approaching Tuscanooga Rd through an alley of trees on Douglas Road.

Tuscanooga Road

Tuscanooga Rd takes you through more of scenic backwoods Florida.
Long shadows on a recently repaved sweeper on Tuscanooga Road. Much of this ride runs through areas teeming with deer, hogs and other wildlife so be especially careful for an hour each side of sunset and sunrise when the wildlife tends to feed along the roads.
Is there a better way to spend a warm winter afternoon then out on a Florida back road ride?
Tuscanooga road is a great example of a canopy Florida back road.

Center Hill Florida

CR-710 heading in to Center Hill.
The old main drag in Center Hill.

Once known as the 'Green Bean Capital of the World' it is now more like a ghost town.
Taking country lanes like CR-707 heading west towards Webster allows you time to relax and enjoy the countryside.
Riding the back roads let's you see huge old oak trees like these on CR-727 that have been removed from the shoulders of the 'improved' highways. Of course you'll have to stay on the road or they'll ruin your day.

Webster, Florida

This ride will take you past lots of old buildings. I'd love to know the history of these two in Webster FL.
I stopped in Webster to get a photo when I saw this sign. While I was there one of the local police officers stopped. While talking about bikes and riding he told me that the sign had been there as long as he could remember.

From what I could find online, O-Boy Vitamin D Bread was produced by the Seybold Baking Company. These signs were common on buildings and delivery trucks in the mid 1900's.

There's an old Seybold Baking company building in Tampa that has been renovated as condominiums (easily seen from the Leroy Selmon Crosstown Expressway heading east) while one in the Daytona area has been renovated as a commercial building.

Both buildings are great examples of early to mid 1900's architecture in Florida.
Stopping at the Hayseed Cafe, one of the restaurants in Webster.

Let them know you found them on 2UpTouring.com!
The Speckled Butterbean restaurant is located on the Webster Flea Market grounds.

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CR-478A southbound from Webster
CR-478A is sure a pretty way to get to and from Webster.

South Towards San Antonio

Recently re-paved, the northern portion of CR-575 sweeps gently through fields and woods.
These sand ridges on CR-575 are the closest you'll come to Florida mountains!
Sweepers on Jessamine Road north of San Antonio

San Antonio

Pancho's Villa Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio, FL.

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The San Ann Market has restaurant services and a general store in San Antonio,

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This marker in San Antonio's downtown park commemorates the founding of San Antonio FL in 1881 as a Catholic colony.

The small square surrounding the park has a great little anotque store and the restaurants are just around the corner.

San Antonio is a one of Old Florida's last remaining gems in the area.
The Twistee Treat in Zephyrhills offers an old Florida way to enjoy and pre or post ride treat,

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Last Updated March 29, 2012