Thursday, May 30, 2013

BWL Column:Bike trips offers fun, challenge at Lakes Park in Fort Myers

Tour de Parks Route Map
Today's BWL column encourages you to check out the new Tour de Parks biking route and provides three suggested rides.
Looking for a ride that’s safe and interesting? One that keeps you off the roadways (except to cross them) and shows off some of the county’s recreational assets?
Well, grab your bikes and head to Lakes Park in south Fort Myers.

You should start at this 279-acre park for two reasons: Plenty of parking and plenty to do for the non-bike riders in the crowd. (You can even use an easy ride around the park as a warm-up.)
Entrance to Lakes Park on Gladiolus Dr.

We’ll give you three options for ride length – 8, 12 and 20 miles – and there’s even a map of the route (dubbed the “Tour de Parks”) on your way out of the park. There are also wayfinding signs with directions and distances along the route, although not always facing in the right direction for some riders.

Start out from Lakes Park and turn left onto the bike path that runs along the north side of Gladiolus Drive to its intersection with U.S. 41. Cross (carefully and patiently) and pick up the path on the north side of Six Mile Cypress Parkway. Stay on that until you reach Daniels Parkway, passing Hammond Stadium (where the Twins and Miracle play) on your left.

• If you’re doing 8 miles, turn left onto the path on the north side of Daniels and stay on that until you across Metro Parkway and Ten Mile Canal. Then turn south (you may need to go further west to the signal to cross safely) and pick up the Yarbrough Linear Park trail south to Six Mile Cypress, turn right and proceed back to Lakes Park.

• For the 12-mile route, continue north on Six Mile Cypress Parkway (you can switch to the path on the west side if you prefer) to Penzance Blvd. and the Six Mile Cypress Slough Center. This is the hub of the 3,400-acre wetlands ecosystem, which includes a 1.2 mile boardwalk into the slough itself (for those who’d like a little walk). When you’re done, retrace your ride (or swing over to the Linear Park Trail on the 8-mile route) and return to Lakes Park.
New wayfinding signs

• Going the full 20 miles? Stay northbound on the Six Mile pathway to the intersection with Colonial Blvd. – and be careful on the northern portion with all the shopping center entrances. Negotiate the intersection to end up on the northeast corner, where you’ll find the Calusa Nature Center nestled in the trees. This 105-acre site has a museum, three nature trails, a planetarium, and butterfly and bird aviaries.

Heading back to Lakes Park, you can either use the Colonial Blvd. trail (more direct and protected) or the North Colonial Linear Park Trail (more scenic), which goes past the city’s Neighborhood Trailhead Park when it crosses Shoemaker Blvd. However, it also means you’ll have to ride in the bike lane on Metro Parkway south from where the Linear Park ends down to Colonial Blvd. – which may be off-putting for some.

Either way, pick up the Yarbrough trail along Ten Mile Canal south to Six Mile Cypress, then return to Lakes Park and the end of your ride.

Once you master this route, you can start from different points or throw in other side loops to expand your biking horizons even further. Use the new bike map or the county’s “Tour de Parks” map for guidance.

 More Information
• For a map of the full Tour de Parks route, download one from or
— BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for Complete Streets in Lee County. Information, statistics and background online at

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