Cross Florida Greenway

by Bob Bailey
(Ocala, Florida)

When I was a student many years ago at the University of Florida, environmentalism was a relatively new phenomenon.

The loudest cause of that era was the "Save The Oklawaha" movement.

Started in the adminstration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930's, the Cross Florida Barge Canal was designed to take maritime traffic from the St. Johns River near Palatka across the state to the Gulf of Mexico near Inglis.

Part of its route was along the Oklawaha River, a beautiful and pristine waterway rich in Florida history.

The project reared its head many times over the years until Richard Nixon finally killed it. By then, a lot of the route had already been excavated and improvements constructed.

Now it has been converted into the Cross Florida Greenway, a long narrow strip of recreational land that stretches 110 miles across the state and includes 77,000 acres.

This area has opportunities for biking, hiking, jogging, canoeing, horseback riding, birding, hunting, fishing and nature study.

An easy access point south of where I live in Ocala is the Santos Trail Head.

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