The two loops I’ve posted here begin in Punta Gorda Florida and take you north of Charlotte Harbor, just over the 41 bridge. The first one is approx 9 miles and and the second one is about 12 miles. “So what’s the difference Ray?” I’m glad you ask, the difference is about three miles. These loops easily stand on their own as short rides or they can be added to your regular Tour de Punta Gorda . There’s traffic on the bridges but no worries, there’s a wide shoulder and “Share The Road” signs, do watch out for shrapnel . The first section of Kings Hwy. doesn’t have a shoulder. You will encounter this section on the return trip as well. There is a side walk but be careful of cars backing out of driveways, they’re not expecting you. “Did you know that every driveway that crosses a side walk is an un-controlled intersection?” * On second thought just ride on the road, it’s safer. At the intersection of Kings Hwy. and Harbor View the motorist will want to right turn on red so be aware.
OK lets roll. Follow the cue sheet over the bridge and turn right onto Melbourne St. At M1.5 you encounter tiny little Chester Robert Park tucked away in Charlotte Harbor with a piece of history. Turn into the park and discover the first of three Waymarkers on this route. Stop and read all about the early settlers called the Hickory Bluff Pioneers. These early settler arrived after the Civil War. The view of the Peace River from here is spectacular.
Back on the bikes and off we go to a left onto Shady Lane and a left onto Harper Ave. Continue on to M2.4, Church St. On the corner of Harper and Church St is the second Waymarker . This one is for the Charlotte Co. Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Charlotte Co. Leave here by going back the way you came in and turn left onto Pinnacle St. Follow the cue sheet until you come to Westchester Blvd. Turn left for the nine mile loop, turn right turn for the twelve mile loop. Which ever way you decide to go you will be on beautiful wide open county roads. There are even bike lanes on Beacon and Westchester. They look a little dated but there they are. The bike lane, while not perfect , makes more sense to me than the multi use path. The multi use path puts me in two way traffic with bicyclist, pedestrian, dog walkers, roller bladers, joggers and others. All I really want is a nice shoulder. Follow the cue sheet and arrive back at the intersection of Westchester and Kings Hwy and take a right.
Once you’ve crossed Rt. 41 onto Parmaley St. look to your left for Waymarker number three, Trinity United Methodist Church. It has the proud distinction of being the longest-meeting congregation in Charlotte County complete with original stained glass and pews. The web site didn’t have any information about guided tours, maybe if you call them you can arrange one.
Straight ahead is beautiful Bayshore Live Oak Park , the first settlers landed here. Turn left onto Bayshore Rd.and stop at the big two story pavilion. The views from here are stunning. I hope you brought your camera, and if you brought a snack this is the place to stop and enjoy it. Hang out here for a while, soak it all in, walk around and read all about Charlotte Co. history, the cattle and fishing industry, more early settlers, then it’s back on the bike. Leave the park by turning right onto Bayshore Rd. and continue along, right onto Rt. 41, over the bridge and a right onto Retta Esplanade.
There you have it. From here you’re on your own. You know where the Tiki Bar is by now. WOW, a bike ride and a little history lesson! The things you see and learn by getting off the main road continues to peak my interest. The world kinda slows down when you’re out there soft peddling on your bike. The three waymarkers I highlighted here are part of my ride at least three days a week. Writing this has led me to a better appreciation of my neighborhood.
Thanks for reading this and as always your comments are appreciated.
* Court Nederveld