Port Orange to Gemini Springs

Day 3: Florida Coast-to-Coast bike tour

Start: Nova Family Campground [1190 Herbert St, Port Orange, FL 32129]

Finish: Gemini Springs Park [Spring-To-Spring Trail, DeBary, FL 32713]

Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/6804676852

RideWithGPS route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/38681709

The puurrrrrr of Harley Davidsons. Coming in late, starting out early, revving to troubleshoot issues, the Nova Family Campground was full of them. It wasn’t as though I could ignore the noise, but surprisingly it didn’t keep me awake or irritate me. I’d rather coexist with Harley riders than Florida pickup drivers any day; the people on those loud motorcycles were polite and neighborly.

The roads of Port Orange were no more fun the second day, but at least it wasn’t raining when we set out. Soon the roads gave way to the Central Florida Rail Trail, which took us to Maytown where we’d connect with the official Florida Coast-to-Coast route. The prior 120-ish mile tour of Florida’s east coast was Peter’s idea, to add miles and sights to our trip.

The Florida C2C makes the most of the state’s bike infrastructure, connecting numerous rail trails and separated bike paths all the way through central Florida. Often these paths are alongside a road, but at least riding bikes we weren’t forced to play in traffic. And most impressively, the trails go places. The route took us around the north side of Lake Monroe. The afternoon brought a drenching rain, and by that point I was soaked through and struggling to stay warm. But because we’d changed directions a few times, headwinds weren’t as persistent, and the ride was calm and scenic.

The Volusia County rail trails are relatively new, well paved and well signed. Benches are available frequently, although they could benefit from a few shelters and water fountains. Entering the more urban area of DeBary, we took the back entrance to Gemini Springs Park and meandered our way to a covered pavilion with a large wooden table (I think they call it the Smokehouse). With restrooms right there, we quickly got into dry clothes and hung up all the wet stuff, then cooked dinner using our camp stove.

I’ll say many good things about Gemini Springs. The first of which is, they have a tent site (campsite #1) available for anyone who arrives by bike. And it’s FREE. I called and they took my registration over the phone. The campground was almost empty, so we had hot showers and a peaceful place to stay at no cost, and with no prior reservation. (Point of note: Lake Monroe Park campground next door also has this arrangement.)

Gemini Springs is gorgeous and magical. It’s one of Florida’s unique “blue holes” where a freshwater aquifer pumps millions of gallons of clear water to the surface, creating a crystal blue pool teeming with fish, turtles, and greenery. They don’t allow swimming (due to high bacteria levels), but it’s a beautiful place to observe wildlife and nature. I LOLed reading some negative reviews, where people object that the campground is dark and quiet, and you have to leave your car outside the fence — pffft, that’s exactly what makes it so lovely! Definitely my kinda place.

~ by GinaCico on March 20, 2022.

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