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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Connecting the Keys | Rails to Trails

Connecting the Keys - image of Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail by Josh Ritchie 
Above image by Josh Ritchie

Connecting the KeysBy Sher Jasperse
Here's an excellent feature from the Winter 2014 edition of Rails to Trails magazine. One of many perks provided by RTC membership, our quarterly magazine includes lots of great stories like this.
 
Photo by Josh Ritchie
Photo by Josh Ritchie
More Information
The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is a work in progress. Before you go, get the latest information about the trail route and points of interest by visiting the Florida State Parks website or the trail info page on Trail link.
Several Key West communities have visitor information centers. A good starting point is the "official" Florida Keys Visitor Center in Key Largo (MM106.2), where helpful advice, maps and brochures—including the latest FKOHT map—are available.
Name: Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
Length: 106.5 miles
Trail end points: Key Largo (MM 106 on US 1) to Key West (MM 0 on US 1)
Trail surface: Asphalt
 
 
 
When oil magnate Henry Flagler's East Coast Railway reached Key West, Fla., in 1912, it was hailed by some as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Others christened it "Flagler's Folly." The railroad was already in bankruptcy by the time the great Labor Day hurricane of 1935 pushed 40 miles of track into the ocean, sinking the railroad for good.
Since then, the only way to traverse the Keys, a chain of islands stretching southwest from the southern tip of mainland Florida, has been the reliable but perennially congested U.S. Highway 1—that is, until the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) began taking shape over the past decade. Approximately 76 miles of the in-progress passageway are complete. Already the most popular trail in the state, it will eventually extend 106 miles from Key Largo to Key West.
Eager for a break from winter, my husband and I pack our bikes and head for Florida and the FKOHT, hoping the new trail will provide a great way to experience the area's unique ecology and history.

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