14.5 miles – Beach and Road – Naples, Florida
Highlights: 4.5+ miles of Gulf Coast Beach and the Historic Naples Pier
Trailhead: The city for Naples has done a great job giving everyone access to the Gulf Coast Beach. At the west end of most streets you will find parking for at least a few cars and a boardwalk down to the beach. Some of the spots require a city beach parking permit and others are metered.
This ride starts at the Naples Pier on the west end of 12th Ave. Parking is along the road and there is also a lot 1 block east. At the start of the pier you will find restrooms with changing areas and about halfway out there is a food concession. This is a popular spot for families to spend a day at the beach and to catch a sunset. One other interesting thing to note is that a license is not required to fish from the pier. The City of Naples buys a bulk fishing license to keep it open to everyone.
The Ride: This is an out and back ride that totals about 14.5 miles. There is 4.5 miles of beach that is linked by 2.75 miles of road riding to get around an outlet at Doctors Pass.
To begin, please respect the other visitors and walk your fat bike out on the pier and then down the stairs to the beach. There is also an easier access 1 block north at the end of Broad Ave. After hitting the sand start heading to the north. In season the beach can get really busy so you may want to plan your ride early in the morning to avoid all the traffic. However, you will find that all the sand is pretty well packed so it is possible to swing way up the beach to get around the walkers and runners.
The riding is smooth and fairly fast, the only obstacles are drain pipes off the ends of the streets. Some of these are protected by rows of pilings that you will have to navigate around. After about 2.25 miles you will see a break in the beach homes and condos as you approach Lowdermilk Park. This is the last public access before Doctors Pass cuts off the beach 0.75 miles to the north of here. If you need a pit stop Lowdermilk Park has restrooms and a concession stand. You will want to leave the beach here, head up to Gulf Shore Blvd and continue riding north on the nice wide shoulder.
This next part will sound complicated, but it is really not too bad. On a nice morning you will likely find yourself in the middle of a line a retirees taking the same route to get around Doctors Pass. Many of the turns are also at the end of the streets as they intersect. If you get lost just head west and try to find your way back to the shore.
In about 0.6 miles Gulf Shore Blvd curves inland and crosses a bridge. Follow the first road to the left after the bridge which is Beacon Lane. The next turns are all about a 0.25 miles apart. From Beacon Lane go left on Bow Line Drive, right on Windward Way, left on Leeward Lane and finally back left when you get to Harbor Drive. This takes you over another bridge and back to Gulf Shore Blvd. About 0.4 miles to the north you will find a public access that will get you back down to the beach.
Pointing the fat tires north in the sand again you will find yourself in the shadows of high rise condos for about the next 1.75 miles. Suddenly the buildings stop and the shore turns to mangrove forest as you enter Clam Pass Park. In about 0.4 miles you come to several rows of nice beach chairs and a boardwalk leading up to a couple small buildings. This is also the beach access for the Naples Grande Beach Resort and I think they operate what looks to be a high end concession here. Another 0.25 past here you get to the Clam Pass outlet and the turnaround point for this ride. It looked like it may be possible to shoulder the fat bike and wade through to the other side, but I wasn’t sure how deep it was and I didn’t want to get caught on the other side with the tide coming in.
This is good spot to take break and watch for dolphins before retracing your tracks back to the Naples Pier.
Post Ride Beverage: There are several fine dining options in the Naples area that are all excellent. However, we recommend riding past Tommy Bahama’s and stopping in at the Old Naples Pub. A frosty mug and some fish taco’s out on the patio here are more our style. I am guessing if you are reading this the same is probably true for you too. The Old Napels Pub is located just a few blocks from the pier at: 255 13th Ave S.
In the Area: If you are still looking for a some more beach riding, continue on under the Naples Pier. You will find another 2.5 miles of open beach up to Gordon Pass. About 1.5 miles from the pass you will enter an exclusive community know as Port Royal. Many famous American families have retreats here and you will find some of the most impressive multimillion dollar beach homes in the area.
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