Tallahassee, Florida might be off the beaten path from other tourist hot spots in the state, but it is well worth the trip. It has some of the best trails in Florida as well as great food, entertainment, and activities for all riders to enjoy.
Jimmy Card, the current president of the Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association (TMBA), and I want to show riders why Tallahassee should be on their list of places to ride.
Why is Tallahassee mountain biking special?
Tallahassee has a long history when it comes to mountain biking. When Marin County became a rising scene for the sport, local riders here were cutting their own trails. Ron Jamis started Jamis Bikes in Tallahassee in 1979. Several Olympian riders trained for the first Olympic MTB event in 1996 on our local trails.
Tallahassee is fortunate to have over 700 miles of hiking, biking, and paddling trails. They are managed by local, state, and federal government agencies. “The land managers have invested heavily in the local trails and related infrastructure over the past few years” says Card. Additionally, Card points out that local residents supported a penny sales tax that helps implement a greenways and trails master plan.
As for the trails themselves, Card loves to tell others that “not all of Florida is flat.” Tallahassee has a lot of hilly terrain that makes its trails fun to ride. Additionally, the local trails represent every soil type, including soft sand, rich loam, and hard-packed clay. Tallahassee has both rooty, technical trails and smooth, flowy trails, along with everything in between. Technical trail features like drops, jumps, skinnies, rock gardens, and wooden features abound. Best of all, no matter where riders stay in town, they are only a short ride on pavement away from accessing a trail without having to drive.
When is best to visit Tallahassee?
Tallahassee offers year-round riding opportunities. For riders with poor heat tolerance, it’s best to avoid visiting Tallahassee during the months of July and August. Temperatures then stay in the 90s during the day and the humidity is stifling at times. These months are usually the wettest too, which limits riders to exploring the sandy trails while the rest dry out.
The coldest months of the year, like most of the US, are January and February. High temperatures reach only into the 50s and 60s, and the lows dip into the 30s. Riders from up north usually love visiting Florida during these months since it offers a reprieve from the freezing temperatures and snowfall experienced at home.
Hurricane season in Florida runs from late May to late November. In recent years it has been most active in August, September, and October. Riders should keep a close eye on the tropics if they are planning to visit Tallahassee during that time.
Best beginner, intermediate, and advanced Tallahassee bike trails
For beginner riders Munson Hills offers great flow with minimal elevation changes and no technical features. It gives riders the chance to view native scrub forests and catch a glimpse of endangered wildlife. The Beggarweed, Wiregrass, and Longleaf trails at the J. Alford Greenway are Tallahassee’s newest trails. They give new riders the chance to experience great flow trails with minimal risk.
For intermediate/advanced riders, Tallahassee doesn’t currently have a complete black diamond trail, but plans are in the works for one soon. However, there are plenty of advanced trail features sprinkled throughout its most popular intermediate trails. Each of them has ride-arounds for those who don’t want to take the risk. Fans of rooty, technical trails will love Redbug, with its abundance of roots, rocks, and tight switchbacks. Cadillac and Magnolia combine tech and flow to give riders the sensation of riding a roller coaster through the woods. Kudzilla and Gun Range cater to the dirt jump and freeride crowd. Tallahassee also has an asphalt pump track created by Velosolutions for riders looking to increase and diversify their skill set.
What to do post-ride?
For riders who need to refuel after hitting the trails at Tom Brown Park, Gaines Street Pies East has a large selection of creative specialty pies and craft beers on tap. Just behind it, Ology Brewing Co.’s Taproom and Beer Garden provides riders with a large variety of craft beers to quench their thirst. Around the corner from them is Habana’s Boardwalk, the home of great authentic Cuban food.
After riding the trails south of town at Munson Hills, head up South Monroe Street to Proof Brewing Company, which has a full bar and pub-style food. If that’s not enough, Big D’s Barbeque and the Tally Mac Shack at Happy Motoring are right next door. A few blocks to the west is the Railroad Square Craft House, which offers a good selection of craft beer and pub food in a family and dog-friendly atmosphere.
If you tackle the trails at Eleanor Klapp-Phipps Park, and Maclay Gardens, then Momo’s Pizza on Market Street will hit the spot post-ride. It’s known for its “Slices As Big As Your Head” and the craft beer brewed in-house.
Rest day recommendations
Outdoor adventures abound both in and around Tallahassee. It is home to the #1 disc golf course in Florida at Tom Brown Park. There are seven first magnitude springs within an hour’s drive. The cold, clear waters are perfect for swimming, diving, and paddling. The Tallahassee Museum offers ziplining if you want to see Florida’s wetlands from above. Wakulla Springs, the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, and the Apalachicola National Forest offer visitors ample opportunities to see the best of Florida’s natural beauty.
History lovers will have plenty to see during their stay in Tallahassee. Mission San Luis offers visitors a glimpse at what daily life was like on a Spanish mission in Florida. The Historic Capital is packed with information on Florida’s past and how its government has evolved over time. The Museum of Florida History is also a must-visit for those who enjoying learning about Florida’s history. Classic car buffs shouldn’t miss seeing the Tallahassee Antique Car Museum, which houses rare automobiles and other collectibles.
For the culturally inclined, Railroad Square is home to a vibrant arts scene. Music lovers have several options for hearing a variety of genres any given night of the week. The Capital City Amphitheater at Cascades Park and the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center downtown both offer special events and concerts throughout the year.
Have a mechanical while visiting? Epic Bikes, The Great Bicycle Shop, David’s World Cycles, and Joe’s Bike Shop have you covered. Each of them offers fast, friendly service that gets riders back on the trails quickly. Additionally, Epic Bikes, which is owned by two TMBA members, holds weekly beginner and intermediate rides that start from the back of the shop.
Special MTB Events
TMBA puts on two main races a year. Every Super Bowl Sunday in February, TMBA hosts the Urban Gorilla, a race that is more akin to a large group ride with 200 of your closest friends. The race starts downtown at City Hall, and traverses most of Tallahassee’s singletrack, nearly 70 miles in all. There are a number of “refreshment” stops at local breweries along the way. Each November, TMBA puts on the BrewTallaty duathalon, combining trail running and mountain biking into one event. Riders can enter as a team, with a rider and a runner, or do the entire event solo. Make sure to check the TMBA website for the latest details if you’re traveling to town around this time.
TMBA is also involved in other special events. SORBA held its annual Spring Summit in Tallahassee this past March. The summit was a multi-day event that provided information and workshops for trail builders, land managers, and advocates. Come spring of 2023, look for the first annual Tallahassee Trail Festival to take place sometime in March. It will showcase the best of Tallahassee trails and provide bike demos, skills training, food, and other fun events.
About the local club and advocacy efforts
TMBA is an affiliate of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) and a local partner of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). It was created nearly 20 years ago and currently has over 250 members. TMBA is the main advocate for MTB trails in Tallahassee. It creates alliances with local government, land managers, and other local clubs to maintain and expand the trails in town. TMBA also helps build and maintain the local trails, providing both physical and financial resources. Additionally, TMBA helps create a respect for the sport of mountain biking in Tallahassee and offers ways for people to discover and enjoy the sport by removing barriers to access.
According to Card, “all of TMBA’s efforts are mainly focused on two things, creating the best trail system that appeals to all types of riders for our local community and building a culture around mountain biking that attracts visitors to town, which helps support our local businesses, hotels, and restaurants.”
For the latest information on Tallahassee’s trails and rides/special events, check out TMBA’s Facebook page and Instragram account. If you are planning a visit, reach out to TMBA in advance and they’ll try to find a local rider who is willing to show you around our trails.