Here’s your chance to get a little feel for the off-road bike and walking trail that could someday run all the way from Biscayne National Park to the Flamingo entrance of Everglades National Park.
Saturday’s fifth annual Biscayne-Everglades Greenway Bike Festival features a 10-mile fat-tire ride from the Homestead-Miami Speedway to the entrance of Biscayne National and back, followed by a family-friendly bike festival on the racetrack grounds.
The free event, designed to get the word out about the long-planned greenway, is catching on as recreational cycling rises in popularity. By mid-week, some 100 people had registered for the fat-tire ride, already more than three times the number who went on the ride last year, say bike-fest organizers at the Homestead parks department.
The greenway, a collaborative effort between the national parks, the state, Miami-Dade County and Homestead and Florida City, would run in a 42-mile loop along canal banks and other public rights-of-way. But funding has been slow to come to lay out the trail, landscape it and build simple facilities such as trailhead entrances and restrooms.
Homestead council member Judy Waldman, for years a principal backer of the plan, has been trying to build public support for funding and build-out of the greenway, which was first approved in a 2007 master plan but had largely stalled. Homestead sees the greenway, the only trail connecting two national parks, as a potential draw for visitors. The greenway would run through Homestead and adjacent Florida City as well as rural, unincorporated areas outside the municipalities.
Recently, the National Parks Conservation Association, an independent nonprofit, provided a $15,000 grant to build a piece of the trail to demonstrate how the entire greenway might look one day. And Waldman persuaded the Miami-Dade legislative delegation to adopt the greenway as a priority.
In the meantime, the guided bike-fest ride will introduce cyclists to a piece of the greenway that, though lacking in facilities, is already ride-worthy. Most of the ride will be on flat dirt and paved trails on canal banks. Hybrid, comfort and mountain bikes — anything with a fat tire — is suitable for the trails, organizers said.
Through Thursday, the Miami-Dade parks department is offering bike rental reservations for those who can’t bring their own.
Following the 9:30 a.m. ride: a festival with vendors, live music and food trucks. Attendees can collaborate with street artist Gregg Rivero on painting a collection of donated bikes.