West Orange Bike Trail
Just twenty minutes from the Kissimmee area in Central Florida lies the West Orange Bike Trail, ideal for a half-day excursion into beautiful Florida, away from the theme parks and tourist bustle.
The West Orange Trail is currently over 20 miles long, but a much shorter ride can be had with the reward of lunch in the picturesque, historic town of Winter Garden.
Start your ride at Kilarney Station, and then ride through the peaceful community of Oakland to Winter Garden, where the trail continues right up the centre of the main street – Plant Street. There are several choices here for either a quick bite (should you wish to carry on for the 22 mile slog) or a more leisurely lunch (definitely my style).
We chose Harry and Larry’s BBQ, which, although open since only 2009, has already garnered several foodie awards. Owned and operated by sisters, Ashlee and Katie Grimes, the restaurant is named for their grandfathers, Harry Huizenga and Larry Grimes. We had delightful pulled pork sandwiches with fries (plenty more side choices available) and soda for just $8-95.
Lunch was followed by window shopping up and down Plant Street, where it is clear that many of the restaurants have foodie awards as they are proudly displayed. You could also visit the Railroad or Heritage museums if the desire takes you.
We sat for a while on the welcoming swing seats, cornering a gushing water fountain, again in the centre of Plant Street. Traffic is both light and slow! There are plenty of bike racks all along the street, a sign of the welcome afforded to over 150,000 trail users each month! Reassuringly, you just know that you don’t need to lock up your bikes whilst here…
The trail meanders through Oakland and Oakland Park, with our particular highlights being the Oakland Water Tower and bandstand area, and a beautiful lake with massive old live oak trees, dripping with air-plants that look like an old-man’s beard.
As we cycled we saw many squirrels, a cat sunbathing on the trail, lizards, a bald eagle soaring round and round overhead and even a flock of bantam chickens – the cockerel startling us with his crow as we sailed by.
We drifted towards Winter Garden, stopping frequently to take in the view and capture some aspects on camera, arriving around 45 minutes later. On our return journey we had no need to dawdle and in fact put in a very little effort to keep cycling as we were approaching the two hour mark on our rental!! The thought of saving $24 (there were 4 or us) kept us going and we cycled the 5 miles back to Kilarney Station in a very easy 20 minutes.
The saddles on the bikes are wide and comfortable, and whilst I apparently resembled Mary Poppins on my bike as it was a rather upright model, the bikes make for easy cycling with their 7 gears.
How to get there:
Kilarney Station is at 17914 State Road 438, Winter Garden, FL 34787. From the Disney/Kissimmee area, take the State Road 429 up to the Florida Turnpike. From the International Drive and Orlando area, take the Florida Turnpike directly. Both the 429 and the Turnpike are toll roads so you will either need to use the e-tolling facility on your rental car, or pay cash tolls. We have our own portable Sun Pass unit which we have already linked up to our Chrysler Town and Country rental car so we can use the Sun Pass or EZ Pass lanes.
Need to know:
Bike rentals from Kilarney Station cost $6 per hour (plus tax) and include a helmet. Daily rate is $30. All children under 16 must wear a helmet by state law.