National forest works With Florida officials, off-highway vehicle users, to build trailhead

Susan Blake
U.S. Forest Service, Florida
March 31st, 2014 at 4:00PM

For many, the “great” in “the great outdoors” answers the call to hit the open road with body, soul and little else except their motorcycle. That got a little easier on the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida with the opening of a new trailhead beckoning riders with easier trail access and opportunity to ride for recreation.

The grand opening of the new Springhill Motorcycle Trailhead south of Tallahassee, Fla., highlights the U.S. Forest Service policy to develop a system of roads, trails and areas designated for motor vehicle use.

The project includes a new, single-span aluminum bridge to connect the forest’s separate motorized northern and southern trails. The prefabricated 90-foot Fisher Creek Bridge, shipped in two sections, replaces an older, antiquated bridge that stretched across the waterway.

“Introducing a new recreation site to the area is very exciting. It’s a milestone for the forest but one we hope the public will enjoy for years,” said Chandra Roberts, recreation program manager for the forest.

The Apalachicola saw the opportunity to create the new recreation area with a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The program provides financial assistance to develop recreational trails, trailheads and trailside facilities.

“The $933,900 grant, funded by off-road vehicle fuel tax dollars through the Federal Highway Administration, has assisted the Forest Service in developing these facilities,” said Alex Weiss, Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “The Springhill Motorcycle Trailhead and Fisher Creek Bridge project, located in Leon County, exemplify the intent of RTP, which was created by Congress in 1991.”

The Florida Forest Service also provided money through their T. Mark Schmidt Off-Highway Vehicle Safety and Recreation Act, which is designed to provide the public with more opportunities to ride off-highway vehicles on public lands.

“Some people parked on the side of the highway and entered the trail, but now at this new facility there’s plenty of room to safely offload motorcycles and equipment before heading out on a ride,” said Steve Tomicich of the Tallahassee Trail Riders.

Roberts said the Tallahassee Trail Riders, a local motorcycle club, and the Red Hills Powersports of Tallahassee promoted and participated in the grand opening and provided tips on trail riding.

Local resident Jeff McKenzie was particularly grateful for the new trailhead. “I wanted to get a small motorcycle to ride with my kids, but we really didn’t have a place to ride,” McKenzie said.  “Now we have this new motorcycle trailhead and it’s really easy to get to.”