Florida's Withlacoochee Trail State Park is a paved bike path stretching 46 miles from Citrus Springs southeast to Trilby. The free park is open year-round. Details: 352-726-0315, www.dep.state.fl.us/parks/district2/withlacoocheetrail. For a list of other Florida bike trails, contact the Florida Office of Greenways & Trails ( 850-245-2052, www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/index.htm).
GETTING THERE: Tampa (roughly 40 miles southwest of Trilby's southern trailhead) and Orlando (roughly 60 miles east of Trilby) are the closest airports. From Washington, round-trip fares to both destinations start at about $160.
PLANNING A RIDE: The virtually flat trail can accommodate just about everyone, including children and novice riders. Bring water. Also recommended: sun block, bug spray, an air pump, a bike tube, a patch kit, bike tools and a cell phone.
Bike rental shops along the trail include Suncoast Bicycles Plus (322 No. Pine St., Inverness) and Hampton's Edge Trailside (9550 E. Atkinson Ct., Istachatta). Both rent bikes for $15 a day.
WHERE TO STAY: Chain motels are scattered along U.S. 41 and I-75, but the only hotel close to the path is Inverness's Crown Hotel (109 N. Seminole Ave., 352-344-5555, www.thecrownhotel.com). The 33 standard rooms and one suite start at $44 a night. Several B&Bs also operate near the trail, including the white-columned Inverness Place (811 Zephyr St., 352-637-3104, www.invernessplace.com). Its "bike special" includes two nights' lodging for $198 for two guests.
Camping is available alongside the Withlacoochee River and Silver Lake in the Withlacoochee State Forest. Rates begin at $10. Details: 352-754-6896, www.fl-dof.com/state_forests/Withlacoochee.htm. Or pitch a tent just north of the trail along the crystal-clear Rainbow River at Dunnellon's Rainbow Springs State Park (19158 SW 81st Place Rd.). Sites begin at $8. Details: 352-489-8503, www.dep.state.fl.us/parks/district2/rainbowsprings/index.asp.
INFORMATION: For info on lodging, restaurants and activities in the trail-side towns, contact the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce (352-726-2801, www.citruscountychamber.com), the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce (352-796-0697, www.hernandochamber.com) and the nonprofit Rails to Trails of the Withlacoochee (352-344-1640, www.nccentral.com/railstotrails).
For general information on travel to Florida: Visit Florida, 888-7-FLA-USA, www.flausa.com.
-- Barbara J. Saffir