While spending time in the warm, sunny city of Sarasota, don’t forget to pay a visit to the popular Legacy Trail. This 18.5-mile paved trail offers access to some of nature’s most breathtakingly beautiful views, sure to leave you feeling inspired. The lengthy trail connects Sarasota to Venice, Florida, starting officially at the Venice Historic Train Depot and ending at Fruitville Road. As one of the most popular trails in Florida, Legacy Trail is open all year round, it provides locals and tourists the opportunity to explore the area on an outdoor adventure, whether alone or with friends and family.
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What Is the Legacy Trail?
The Legacy Trail Sarasota is one of Florida’s most wonderful stretches of paved trail. It connects communities and neighborhoods in Sarasota as well as connecting to towns south of Sarasota including Osprey, Nokomis and Venice. The trail passes through a variety of hot spots, nature preserves, and neighborhoods and even goes right through Oscar Scherer State Park.
Although some use it for travel purposes, most people enjoy the trail for exercise or just enjoying the outdoors. Exploring the Legacy Trail can be quite therapeutic due to many of the undeveloped areas of the trail that allow you to feel more in tune with nature. Sometimes it really doesn’t feel like you are in the middle of an urban area. The trail is a perfect way to spend a day or evening if you want to go on a long walk, ride your bike, or even take a jog on the trail. You can also bring your pet with you!
The History of the Legacy Trail
The Legacy Trail in Sarasota has a rich history that dates back to the early 1900s. The newly constructed Seaboard Air Line Railway was ready for use in November of 1911, with the first passenger coach riding across it on the 12th of that month. However, it would take another 16 years before the Venice Train Depot would open with a railroad that helped locals survive some of the most trying times, including the Great Depression.
The railroad would continue to be used over the next several decades, helping transport cadets of the Kentucky Military Institute to their Venice classes and patients to and from the office of Dr. Albee. Although regularly used to bring goods into the city, even Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus used this railroad for their traveling circus! Unfortunately, by January 1992, service on the railway was discontinued for good.
Despite sitting for quite some time, Sarasota County eventually purchased the Venice Train Depot in 2003, restoring it to ensure that locals and tourists alike would have access to a little piece of incredible history in the area. It has since become a trailhead for the Legacy Trail Sarasota, often considered a starting point for those who want to experience every inch of the trail. And while the initial path was roughly 12.5 miles long, it has since been extended by an additional 7.5 miles. Visitors can still expect to see some upcoming changes, with overpasses set to be developed on both Bee Ridge Road and Clark Road.
How Long Is the Legacy Trail and Where Does It Go?
The Legacy Trail in Sarasota is nearly 20 miles long, but it wasn’t always that way! A recent extension finished in 2022 added an extra 7.5 miles, stretching the trail even further into the downtown section of Sarasota by Payne Park. If you take this trail, you can stop at many places throughout the journey, starting with Legacy Park. Once you’re on the way, you will pass other local hot spots, such as Nokomis Riverview Park, Shakett Creek, Oscar Scherer State Park, and the Osprey Junction Trailhead, ending in Downton Sarasota by Payne Park.
The Legacy Trail is so long that it takes you through heavily forested areas before bringing you into the bustling city, where you can stop and grab a bite to eat at places like Five-O Donuts or Fresh Mozzarella Pizzeria. Both of these eateries are within walking distance from Payne Park.
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Venice to Sarasota
The southern portion of the trail takes you through the town of Venice. You can choose to start in Shamrock Park in the South Venice Neighborhood and take the Venetian Waterway trail that follows the Intracoastal and connects to popular areas of historic Venice Island. From there, you can go to the Venice Train Depot just off Venice Island and connect to the main Legacy Trail and head up north of Venice through Nokomis, Oscar Scherer State Park and on up to Sarasota.
North Port to Sarasota via New Extension!
In September 2022 the North Port Extension officially opened which connected the Legacy Trail to the town of North Port, which is east of Venice. Now trail users can enjoy a trip through the Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and other beautiful nature areas, connecting to other trails and going right into the North Port and Mineral Springs area.
Is There Parking Available for the Legacy Trail?
If you plan to drive to the Legacy Trail before heading off, you will want to know where to park your vehicle. The good news is that there are plenty of options throughout the trail, so no matter where you start your journey, you shouldn’t have difficulty finding a safe space to park your car. Some of the different places that provide public parking include:
- Oscar Scherer State Park
- Laurel Park
- McIntosh Road Parking
- Sarasota Springs Trailhead
- Payne Park Trailhead
Several of these spots, including the Sarasota Springs Trailhead and Payne Park Trailhead, provide parking with access to restrooms and fresh drinking water, helping you stay hydrated on your journey. Other trailheads worth visiting include Pompano, Osprey Junction, and Patriots Park, to name a few. These parking areas are typically free of charge.
Facilities You Will Find Along the Legacy Trail
If you plan to spend hours on the trail, exploring while riding your bike, walking, or even jogging with loved ones, you’re probably wondering if you will have access to convenient facilities. For example, you never know when you might have the urge to use the bathroom or the desire to stop and rest for a bit.
The good news is that many facilities throughout the Legacy Trail in Sarasota offer water, benches, bathrooms, and more. The best thing to do is make a list of all the trailheads you will encounter based on your starting and finishing points.
When passing places like Nokomis Riverview Park, you can stop and rest, grab some fresh water, and even use the bathroom. The scenic spot sets the tone for a moment of relaxation when you feel worn out and want to catch your breath. However, several other stops offer the same facilities, including Oscar Scherer Park, Culverhouse Nature Park Trailhead, and the Pompano Trailhead. Each location provides trail access, so you can stop, take a break, use the restroom, and then get back to exploring.
Does the Legacy Trail Have Road Crossings?
Most of the Legacy Trail is road-crossing free. The trail is mostly designed to avoid or go around major roads, or there are bridges or tunnels under and over roads. However, there are a few places where the trail does actually cross the road.
In those few cases of road-crossings, there are signs to let you know and signs and signals for the cars to stop on the road. There’s also a distinct crosswalk area that you should use when you cross the roadway. However, it’s important that you pay attention and proceed with caution through the few road-crossings that there are. Be sure to look both ways and never assume that cars will stop.
How Difficult is the Legacy Trail?
Like much of Florida, the Sarasota area is quite flat. So the Legacy Trail does not have any natural hills to climb and is known to be a very easy trail no matter if you are walking, jogging or biking.
The only hills you may encounter are raised trail bridges that go up and over major roads. And many of these bridges offer the option for you to stay at ground level and just go around the bridge and cross the road. However, the raised bridge allows for a much safer road crossing and you don’t have to stop if you are traveling fast.
If you do have trouble with the bridges on a bicycle, then you can always walk your bike to the top and then enjoy the breeze as you ride down.
What’s Allowed on the Trail?
Before you head out on your journey on the Legacy Trail, it helps to know what is and isn’t allowed. Some people love walking the trail, and while it’s an option, there are other ways to travel through it. If you don’t want to walk or jog, you can ride a traditional bicycle, e-bike, or roller skates as you navigate your way around. It’s a great way to exercise, explore a beautiful area, and create the best memories with your loved ones.
Yes, e-Bikes are allowed on the Legacy Trail. But other motorized scooters are not.
Visitors can spend time on the trail as early as 6:00 AM and up until the sun sets for the evening. No one should move faster than a speed of 15 MPH, whether on a traditional bike, skates, or e-bike. In addition, you’re allowed to bring your four-legged friends with you, but make sure you put them on the appropriate leashes. Dogs aren’t allowed to roam freely on the trail and should be accompanied by their human companions at all times.
Yes, dogs are allowed! But keep them on a short leash and close to you at all times.
Helpful Tips to Enhance Your Enjoyment of the Legacy Trail
If you want to have the most enjoyable experience on the Legacy Trail from Sarasota to Venice, there are a few things to remember. Check out these helpful tips to remain respectful on the trail and have a good time:
- Keep to the right side of the trail because people coming from the opposite direction are usually on the left-hand side, and you don’t want to get in their way.
- Always let people know when you’re getting ready to pass them. Simply saying “passing” will suffice.
- Bring comfortable yet weather-appropriate clothing to ensure you feel your best and are prepared for the outdoor conditions, especially when you’re planning to stay on the trail from start to finish.
- Pack a reusable water bottle. Even if you drink all your water before the trail’s end, you can stop at one of the trailheads to refill the bottle.
- Keep hydrated! This is Florida and it can get incredibly hot and humid during certain times of the year.
- Be mindful of others on the trail. Try not to take up all the space and give people plenty of room for their own activities, whether walking, cycling, skating, or jogging.
- Never dispose of trash on the trail. Hold it in your bag with you until you get to a trailhead and can dispose of the waste properly.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen. You may spend hours on the trail, which puts you at risk of sunburn. Reapply as needed when stopping at trailheads to use the restroom and get more drinking water.
- Be careful at any of the road crossings. There are a few of them, and even though there are signs, crosswalks and even signals that stop traffic in some areas, please always look both ways and proceed with caution.
By following these simple tips, you can make the most of your journey along the Legacy Trail.
Why Residents and Visitors Love the Legacy Trail
Both residents and tourists to the Sarasota and Venice areas really enjoy having such a wonderful paved walking and biking trail in town. It’s convenient to access the Legacy Trail from many popular areas and neighborhoods in Venice and Sarasota and the trail’s scenery and facilities really make it enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities.
If you’re looking for a way to explore the area at your own pace with those closest to you, this is an excellent option. Whether you enjoy walking, riding your bike, or even roller skating at a slow and steady pace. When you explore the Legacy Trail, you can enjoy a piece of history, exercise outdoors, and stop to relax at plenty of trailheads. You might even meet new people who feel just as enthusiastic about completing the trail from start to finish as you do!