“A beautiful tour of the relatively under-explored eastern base of the Floridas!
— Christopher Bare
While not a typical singletrack experience, this trek into the wilderness offers incredible views of the eastern slopes of the Florida Mountains. Open spaces and sweeping vistas add to the rustic beauty and the absence of nearby civilization adds to the lonely and unexplored ambiance this area seems to radiate.
This is a spartan environment, so bring extra water and gear. Also, you'll ride through a small section of private land (Tres Lomitas Ranch), so be respectful as you pass through this area. Additionally, much of the land is a designated wilderness study area, so confine your biking to the roads and avoid going off trail.
The best place to begin this adventure is at a parking area where Rockhound Road and 143 intersect. Alternatively, you may choose to start at Rockhound State Park or Spring Canyon State Park, but you'll have to pay to park at these areas and you'll be subject to park hours.
Turn right onto the paved road (143) and follow it until it becomes Stirrup Road. Continue on this road until meeting up with Florida Road. Turn right and continue until reaching the Spring Canyon Junction. Continue straight onto the dirt road (Gap Road).
From here, you'll follow Gap Road until you reach three small peaks that are just east of the Florida Mountains proper. This make for an easily identifiable landmark and good turn around point; however, there are many side roads that lead to old mine ruins that can be explored if you want to add additional time and adventure to your experience.
Gap Road will become more technical and will narrow the further back you travel; however, it remains mainly doubletrack and while parts of it are only accessible to a higher clearance vehicle, a mountain biker with reasonable skills and endurance should have little difficulty completing this ride.
Be respectful of the road and watch out for cattle. You'll pass through Tres Lomitas Ranch during this ride, and folks are typically friendly toward mountain bikers and it is best to keep things that way.
Several old mining ruins pepper the mountains.