Day five was a layover day to take in some of the sights of St. Augustine and also have some time for our bodies to recover from some of the stresses of cycling. In the morning we visited Castillo De San Marcos, the 17th century fort that played a key role in St. Augustine for over 300 years. In the evening we did one of the very popular ghost tours.
The St. Francis Inn is a charming bed and breakfast built in 1791. A small pond in the courtyard is filled with water from the original water system for the city. The building is full of interesting angles and corners and, as we learned on the ghost tour, also hosts one of the city’s many restless spirits.
We hit the road at 7:00 a.m. this morning to get out ahead of the sun. Ten miles west of St. Augustine we turned onto another section of trail, the Palatka-to-St. Augustine Trail. Except for the section along SR 207, the trail runs through hammocks and swamps; yet another great escape from the unrelenting summer sun.
Along the trail is the tiny, historic African-American community of Armstrong, where we were treated to a picnic breakfast. Like many small communities, they’re hoping they can capitalize on the presence of the new trail.
After the trail we rode a series of quiet rural roads through Putnam County, with a few small rolling hills, past lakes, potato fields, oak hammocks and old farm houses. This is a part of Florida few people visit, which is a good thing if you’re a bicycle tourist. Not only are the roads mostly lightly traveled, but you also get to see the real rural Florida countryside.
Even though this was our longest day (mileage-wise), we finished at 2:00 p.m. in Crescent City. Here we stay at the Sprague House Bed & Breakfast, and will join the locals at Three Bananas restaurant on the shore of Crescent Lake for dinner.
You can also follow our exploits on Facebook at First Florida Rail to Trail Tour.