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Robinson Preserve Bike Rides

Holmes Beach to Robinson Preserve offers a part street, part off-road, escape to wild areas with scenic views and wildlife habitat.

Holmes Beach to Robinson's Preserve area map
Holmes Beach to Robinson’s Preserve area map

Robinson Preserve has become a popular site for Anna Maria Island and Bradenton residents, along with island and area visitors. The multi-use trails and waterways are a great escape from the congestion and traffic of the beaches and shops.

One way to enjoy the preserve is to bike around the designated trails and take a few side spurs to the less-frequented views and outlooks. The main path is paved and smooth for walking and cycling, and are busier on weekends, but the unpaved paths are more interesting and quieter.

Starting from Holmes Beach, heading along Manatee Ave to the south entrance, and taking most of the available trails in the preserve, I measured a 15-mile  round trip. There are several ways to shorten or lengthen ride choices depending on your start point, and by repeating circuits or side spurs.

Foot and bike path on the Anna Maria Island Bridge
Foot and bike path on the Anna Maria Island Bridge
Robinson Preserve south entrance on Manatee Ave, Hwy 64.
Robinson Preserve south entrance on Manatee Ave, Hwy 64.
Robinson Preserve Bike Trails
Robinson Preserve Bike Trails

Some things to keep in  mind:

  • Be courteous.
  • Stay under 10 mph maximum speed, 5 mph or less near other people.
  • Watch out for dogs on long leashes.
  • Beware kids, walkers and joggers who don’t hear your approach, may be distracted, and move unpredictably.
  • Slow way down when approaching curves and trail intersections.
  • Beware oncoming Park Rangers’ utility carts that can take up most of the double-track path width.
One of many bridges over Robinson Preserve waterways
One of many bridges over Robinson Preserve waterways
The beginning of the unpaved trail towards osprey nest poles and observation tower
The beginning of the unpaved trail towards osprey nests and observation tower
Observation tower loop
Observation tower loop
North of the observation tower, the trail crosses several waterways and follows the Tampa Bay shoreline
North of the observation tower, the trail crosses several waterways and follows the Tampa Bay shoreline
Beginning of the single-track mangrove forest trail
Beginning of the single-track mangrove forest trail spur
Seagrapes, palms and mangroves create a shaded path
Seagrapes, palms and mangroves create a shaded path
Low-hanging tree limbs and roots add interest and degree of difficulty
Low-hanging tree limbs and roots add interest and degree of difficulty
Turn around point of the single-track spur
Turn around point of the single-track spur
Glimpses of Anna Maria Island, from the trail
Glimpses of Anna Maria Island, from the trail
Views to Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay
Views to Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay

Robinson Preserve trails in native forest

On the northwest single-track, extra-high tides may encroach onto some parts of the trail. On hot days this tree-covered trail is refreshingly cooler. Watch out for tree roots and occasional low hanging limbs. The 1-mile roundtrip trail is hard-pack sand and usually damp, so that street tires are sufficient, but knobbies will provide more traction and agility. 40 inch gearing is more than adequate.  Update: This spur trail is now signposted “No Bikes Beyond This Point”. Complain to the Manatee Parks and Recreation Dept. for equal access and trail sharing! (941) 748-4501

Sidewalk on Manatee Ave towards Anna Maria Island bridge and beaches
Sidewalk on Manatee Ave towards Anna Maria Island bridge and beaches

To eliminate mixing cycling with cars and trucks, you can drive to the preserve entrance. Parking is available on the south side of Manatee Ave and access to the trail-head is under a bridge by a protected path that allows you to avoid crossing over the highway.

Nearby Neal Preserve, between the Anna Maria Island bridge and Robinson Preserve, opened April 9th, 2014, with a 1-mile trail but for foot traffic only.

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