Monday, February 3, 2014

The Carlton Trail System Boldly Grows


Southwest Florida's newest off road system lies at the heart of the T.Mabry Carlton Reserve on the outskirts of the city of Venice. The lead trail has become known as "BoldlyGo" and in the short span of one year it has attracted the attention of countless visitors. At the parking lot is a kiosk with a map that displays this long span of singletrack snaking its way through the woods for almost 4 miles. As of now, this popular trail has been made even longer.

The Sarasota County Off Road Riders (SCORR) are the group responsible for trail building and maintenance. They created BoldlyGo and over the past couple weeks they extended it to complete a loop that is easily accessible for the public.


SCORR started the new year by hiking through the brush, flagging new paths. This required traversing deep woods and fields of palmetto while picking appropriate routes. Mountain bike trails are usually narrow and often swerve back and forth giving riders the illusion of speed while enjoying the technical challenges of nature. Developing such trails requires an eye for optimizing the available terrain. Once the direction was flagged and measured, it was time to gather some muscle.

Volunteers are hard to come by when backbreaking work is involved but SCORR put out the word on their Facebook Page and pulled in a dozen workers for gatherings on two weekends.


SCORR waded into the marsh to find the high ground. They moved fallen trees, cut old branches and carved out nearly two miles of new trails. It was not an easy task. Despite the use of GPS navigation it was easy to get lost in the depths of the forest. After more than 15 hours of construction and a few missed turns, they connected BoldlyGo with the long standing Red trail.

This new Carlton Loop will allow riders to start at the parking lot, follow BoldlyGo for 6 miles then turn left on the Red trail, stay left onto the Blue trail and follow it back to the parking lot for a full ride of 10 miles.


The Carlton Loop is now available for riding. Mountain bikers can try it on their on, join a Tuesday night ride with SCORR or a Sunday family ride with Real Bikes Venice. The more wheels that cover the beaten track, the faster it will be carved into a fluid path fit for rippers.

Most importantly, get out there and have some fun!


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