Motorcycling through the Nature Coast
Clear blue sky, bright sun warming your back through the morning shadows of tree-lined roadways. Two wheels rolling …. maybe three. In the coolness of early day to the serenity of a sunset-painted sky, there’s no feeling like the breeze in your face on a motorcycle.
Whether you’re on a solo ride or in a group, these roadways provide some of the most beautiful and unique rides on Florida’s Nature Coast. These riding routes will beckon you back again and again.
The rolling and soft-curved roads bring riders up close to all that the Nature Coast has to offer. From peaceful vistas of expansive pasturelands to moss-laden majestic oak-lined roads, past the tall pines of the Withlacoochee State Forest, to sighting an occasional deer or eagle, you’ll enjoy a ride that will always take you somewhere special.
Motorcycle Routes through the Nature Coast
Here are some suggested riding routes that will help you experience the best of Florida’s Nature Coast:
From SR 50 / Cortez Blvd, a turn onto Ft. Dade Avenue will take you to US 41 north. Turning north will offer a wonderful ride through the Withlacoochee State Forest area. Continuing north will bring you to the junction of Lake Lindsay Road (CR-476). A right turn heading east will provide wide open pasturelands and bring you into Nobleton. A great roadside stop is the Riverside Restaurant, locally known for the delicious burgers and on-site smoked specialties. Open early for breakfast on weekends, it’s a welcome stop on a chilly morning!
Chinsegut Nature Center
From Brooksville, travel north on US 41 to Lake Lindsay Road (CR-476), and turn left (west). Although somewhat residential in areas, the ride is one worth traveling. From here, you can visit the Chinsegut Nature Center (www.MvFWP.com/Chinsegut), which is open to the public on Friday and Saturday mornings. If you need a riding break, you can stretch your legs on a number of well-groomed trails, where wildlife and birds are abundant, and visit the Nature Center.
Lake Lindsay Mall
From there, continue west to Snow Memorial Highway (CR-481). A right (north) turn / then quick left at the Lake Lindsay Mall country store will keep you on CR-476, Old Florida nostalgia will greet you here – stop for lunch (great Cubans), a cold drink, and a game of checkers under the oaks. The store and deli were recently renovated and greet visitors daily.
Stagecoach Trail and Cavallo Farm & Market
Continuing north on Snow Memorial Highway (CR-481) will bring you to East Stage Coach Trail. Now in Citrus County, left (west) turn will provide a ride with abundant views and open expanses of untouched land. Continue traveling west to S. Lecanto Highway. At the junction of S. Lecanto Highway, a right turn (north) will take you toward Cavallo Farm and Market for a wonderful mid-morning breakfast or lunch through 2pm. The outdoor seating provides beautiful views of the 40+acres of blueberry bushes and the bakery and gift shop are worth the ride, so put on your saddlebags. Their hours vary by season, so you want to call ahead to make sure the restaurant is serving. Currently they are closed for the summer of 2022, starting June 26.
You can leave Cavallo and head south on Lecanto Highway, which will eventually become Citrus Way (CR-491) and will take you back into Hernando County
CR-491 intersects with US-98 (Ponce de Leon Blvd.) north of Brooksville, which is under construction as of June 2022 and you may want to avoid, but just north of the intersection of US 98 and CR-491 is the Little Rock Cannery, where you can find the Hernando Growers Association and a fresh produce market. US-98 eventually junctions with US-19 — north to Homosassa (Citrus County), or south back to Hernando County.
The scenery is beautiful on Lake Iola Road / Spring Lake Highway. Traveling on Spring Lake Highway (CR-541), you will come upon Boyett’s Citrus Attraction. This is a perfect bike-stop for a refreshing hand-dipped ice cream treat. While there, visit the exotic animal zoo, aquarium, and dinosaur room! A packet of “zoo-food” will draw the ‘local residents’ to you for a treat!
From Boyett’s, travel south to Hayman Road (SR-576), where a right (west) turn will provide a brief, but breathtaking ride through open pasture and Florida foothills with some nice curves. Hayman Road will become Ayers Road, ending at US 41 just south of the Hernando County airport. Before you get to US 41, you can make a left (south) on Phillips Road to visit Masaryktown Winery and enjoy wine tasting, a great brunch or lunch that is truly farm-to-table Friday through Sunday. In season, there are you-pick fruits and vegetables, eggs, and they often have evening events with movies or live music.
Travel north to Cortez Blvd. / SR-50, turn west and head for Bayport. Cross US 19, where SR-50 becomes CR-550, still Cortez Blvd. Approximately 6 miles of travel will bring you the Bayport Inn, one of the best-known local restaurants. The “Bikers Welcome” sign is always out at the Bayport Inn, known for exceptional ‘burgers and fish sandwiches and the Thursday night prime rib special.
Sit outside on the covered deck to enjoy the saltmarsh breezes or watch a spectacular sunset. The northerly turn onto CR-495 at the Bayport Inn is a brief but scenic ride to Pine Island, also known as Alfred McKethan Park. The county-maintained park is the only Gulf beach in Hernando County, and offers great food at Willy’s Tropical Breeze, a play-area for children, picnic stations and white sand to rest your riding toes! Note: there is a $5.00 parking fee for the day.
Traveling straight past the Bayport Inn takes riders to the newly restored Bayport Park, a stop well-worth including for the views and Gulf-breezes and great photo opportunities. Picnic pavilions and rest rooms are on site.
Shoal Line Boulevard
Half-way to the Bayport Inn, a left turn on Shoal Line Blvd. (CR-597) offers boundless opportunities for dining and recreation. Roger’s Park provides a beach area for a cool dip in the crystal-clear Weeki Wachee River, or a bit of fishing and a picnic lunch at Jenkins Creek or Linda Pederson Park. A climb up the 3-story tower will give riders a “whole new view” over the saltmarshes and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Continuing on Shoal Line Road, riders will enjoy the expansive views on the approach to the community of Hernando Beach. No beach sand here but making a left (south) “lean”, you’ll find several opportunities for excellent dining.
Weeki Wachee Preserve or Aripeka
Continuing south on Shoal Line Blvd. will bring riders to the intersection of Osowaw Blvd. (CR-595). A left will take you back to US-19; a right turn will offer a ride through another incredible area called Aripeka, an unincorporated community along the Gulf of Mexico on the border of Pasco and Hernando counties.
Plan a weekend of riding around one of the many special events that take place in Florida’s Nature Coast. You can check our Calendar for the current offerings. Lodging choices include hotels, bed and breakfasts, and camping.
Cameras are a “must” on your travels through the area. The sights are many along the quiet, less-congested roads through the 471 square miles of Hernando County. The Nature Coast at its best, we invite you to ride in our back yard … we’re sure you’ll come back often!
** This story was originally written by Carole Bunker Knudson in 2009 and has been edited by Diane Bedard to bring it up to date.