Two Up Motorcycle Touring

Sunshine Skyway Motorcycle Ride

July 1, 2009

Motorcycle Road Ride Map

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Motorcycle Rides Just Minutes from Anywhere in the Tampa Bay Area

Just south of Tampa Bay you can enjoy an easygoing afternoon cruise on surprisingly un-crowded back roads. Easy to get to from Tampa, St Petersburg, Bradenton and the surrounding area, these laid-back rides conceal the fact you're only minutes away from one of Florida's largest population centers.


You'll enjoy great views of Tampa Bay, backwater bayous and barely used two lane roads with canopies of oak and Spanish moss.


The views of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico will make you realize why nearly 3 million people choose to live and play here. Egmont Key, at the mouth of Tampa Bay is easily visible to the west side of the bridge on the southbound leg. The island is now a Florida State Park and features a working lighthouse. The beacon is easily seen, even during the middle of the day. The park is only accessible by private boat or ferry. We'll be bringing you more information on visiting this beautiful barrier island in an upcoming article.


Start out early and combine this ride with the Tail of the Gecko and the Mine Roads Madness rides to get in a full day of riding of some of the twistiest roads the West Central Florida has to offer.


Start at the North Sunshine Skyway Toll Booth

Your ride starts at the north end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Although we don't normally feature super-slab rides, this crossing of Tampa Bay is easily worth the $1.00 toll.

Enjoy the view, but keep your eyes on the road and watch out slow or distracted drivers anywhere on the bridge!
Tmpa Bay

Tmpa Bay's graceful Sunshine Skyway bridge as seen from the souther rest area on Interstate 275

Get Off the Interstate at Exit 5

After passing the south rest area and fishing pier take Exit 5 to get off the beaten path and get started on the next part of the ride.

US-19 used to be the main route through this part of Florida, but now it mostly carries traffic to and from the interstate. You'll only be on it a short distance before getting started on the back roads part of the ride.

Use caution at the first left, as noted in the detailed directions. US-19 is banked for a turn and in conjunction with the road crown the left turn here could put you airborne if you're not careful (don't ask how I know).
Watch out - The road crown making this left turn could put you on your head!

Watch out - The road crown making this left turn could put you on your head!

Pelicans, Ospreys and other Wildlife Abound

You'll be traveling down some lightly populated two lane road as you wind past Terra Ceia bay.

As you scan the waterfront and trees don't be surprised if you see pelicans and ospreys fishing and sunning themselves. Keeping the pace slower here can reward you with wildlife views that are becoming harder to find all the time as Florida's population grows.

Pelican's sunning themselves on the dock. Watch for them diving on schools of fish as you cross the Skyway and start the ride.

Spanish Moss and Canopy Roads Make for an Old Florida Ride

Bishop Harbor Road meanders through wild and undeveloped wetlands offering scenic views of the backwaters of Tampa Bay.

Enjoy the ride, but keep your eyes open for sand in the corners throughout the ride. Florida's soil is mostly a sand very similar in color to the road surface. If you don't keep looking for it you'll find yourself sliding down the road with the rubber side up.
The old oaks covered with Spanish moss line many of the back roads on this ride.

The old oaks covered with Spanish moss line many of the back roads on this ride.

The Hayabusa Sweepers

A good friend and riding buddy rides a Suzuki Hayabusa.

This set of sweepers was where I first realized just how amazing that particular machine is.

Before you get carried away though you should realize that shortly after this set of turns the first speed limit sign you'll see on this road reads 40 MPH!

Out here I always consider traffic a surprise and make sure I'm "legal" just in case.
The Hayabusa Sweepers will temp you to crack the throttle open and go!

The Hayabusa Sweepers will temp you to crack the throttle open and go!

Farms and Fields Line the Roads

The ride continues at a relaxing pace as you cruise down mostly empty roads through farmland and fields lined with old oaks covered in Spanish moss.

Little Manatee River - Southfork Tract - Day Use Area

At the end of the Skyway Rides route you'll find the Little Manatee River - Southfork Tract day use area.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWIFTMuD) has been making many of its lands accessible to the public for day use activities. While these lands may not quite qualify as parks, they provide access to unique areas and provide an safe place to stop while out on a ride.

Make sure you have a kickstand block as most of the parking areas are grass or dirt.

Unfortunately, at this time there are no restroom or picnic facilities at the area.
Little Manatee River - Southfork Tract - Day Use Parking Area

Little Manatee River - Southfork Tract - Day Use Parking Area

Little Manatee River - Southfork Tract - Hiking/Nature Trail

A short (approximately 2 miles) nature/hiking trail is part of the day use area.

While I have not had a chance to follow the trail it appears to be flat "jeep trail" through the scrub and lightly forested area of the tract. In the cooler months with dry conditions this hike might provide a refreshing break and chance to appreciate some on the unique natural sights in the west central Florida area.

Due to the lack of shade I would imagine this hike would be best done in the late fall/winter/early spring. From May through mid-October the heat and lack of shade will probably make this a less than pleasant trek.

The area is frequented by severe thunderstorm in the warmer months and due to the lightning strike danger it should be avoided whenever you can see or hear thunderstorms in the area.
Last edited January 8, 2012