Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live. - Mark Twain


Ormond Scenic Loop Trail

Ormond Scenic Loop & Trail (OSLT) is a 30+ mile double loop of roadways traversing some of the most diverse natural scenery remaining in all of northeast Florida. There is ready access to the Atlantic Ocean, North Peninsula, Tomoka and Bulow Creek State Parks as well as numerous city and county parks. The roadway view includes unobstructed vistas of two rivers, creeks and marshes, barrier island dunes and beach, and historic dwellings.

Visitors seeking a cultural and/or historic experience will find museums and historic public buildings and private homes along the corridor, in Tomoka State Park and in locations a few blocks off the designated roadways. Recreational opportunities abound with numerous parks and trails offering boating, fishing, hiking, swimming, bicycling, beach walking and much more.

From December through March Atlantic Right Whales travel from the North Atlantic to the warm waters off the coast of central Florida to give birth. Adults and their calves are often spotted off shore along A1A. Dolphins are a common sight. Loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles use the sandy beaches along A1A for nesting.

The OSLT is a series of state and county highways:

Northern leg: CR 2002 (Highbridge Road and Walter Boardman Road).

Western leg: CR 4011 (Old Dixie Highway and North Beach Street), with a spur onto Pine Tree Drive.

Southern leg: SR 40 (East Granada Boulevard).

Central leg: CR 2803 (John Anderson Drive).

Eastern leg: SR A1A.

Biking Notes – While the OSLT is described as a trail it doesn't possess the desirable attributes available on many of the popular biking trails in the central Florida area. The trail or loop consists of older narrow two-lane county and state roads, without designated bicycle lanes or adequate shoulders to safely ride on. Dependent upon the road and time of time of day vehicular traffic can be moderate to busy.

Sidewalks are far and few in between. When available, they appear to have been constructed long ago. As such, they're narrow, designed strictly for pedestrian use, and have been poorly maintained. The one exception I encountered appeared to be built more recently, and included the design attributes found on many of our popular local trails. It was paved, possibly with shell-rock, and sufficiently wide to allow for both pedestrians and bicyclists. It began at the intersection of Highbridge Rd and ran south along SR A1A for 1.5 miles.

While a bicycle allows one to easily stop and explore an area of interest along the way, a vehicle maybe the safest way of touring the loop.

Ormond Scenic Loop Trail map (PDF).

Vistas Along the Loop

Beginning atop the Granada Bridge

Granada Bridge

The Granada Bridge is a high-clearance (65') bridge that spans (1,923') the Halifax River and Intracoastal Waterway, linking the mainland (SR 40 and Granada Blvd) and beach peninsula areas of Ormond Beach, Volusia County.

City Hall Plaza and Riverbridge Park reside on the mainland side of the bridge while The Casements, Rockefeller Gardens, and Fortunato Park reside across the Halifax River along the Intracoastal Waterway, which make up the four corners of the bridge.






Fortunato Park

Fortunato Park is a 2.6 acre riverfront park located on John Anderson Drive just east of the Granada Bridge on the Intracoastal Waterway adjacent to The Casements and Rockefeller Gardens. The park offers scenic views of the Halifax River, canoe launches, picnic area, walking trails, fishing pier, playground and restrooms.

The park is also home to the Ormond Hotel Cupola which is a historic landmark. The Cupola is the only remaining structure of the old Hotel Ormond, which was located east of John Anderson Drive on Granada Boulevard from 1887 to 1992. The Cupola stood atop the hotel's roof near the center of the sprawling structure. From this lofty perch, hotel guests could take in both ocean and river views.

When the Hotel Ormond was demolished in 1992, the Cupola was taken to a salvage yard on the mainland with the rest of the demolition debris. Historical Society members led preservation efforts to rescue the Cupola and eventually the structure was relocated to its current location as the centerpiece of Fortunato Park. The sculpted weathervane at the peak of the roof was installed in 2006 in memory of Parker Robinson Jr, a participant of the preservation effort.

Just outside the door to the Cupola is the brass historical marker that stood for many years outside the Hotel Ormond, designating the hotel as an historic landmark. Photographs, memorabilia, and information about the history of the Hotel Ormond and the Cupola are on display on the first floor of the building.





Ormond Hotel_001



The Casements

The mansion was built in 1910 for the Rev. Harwood Huntington of New Haven, Connecticut. It was named for the many large hand-cut casement windows, which were incorporated into the design of the building to help keep the interior cool in spite of Florida's subtropical climate.

In 1914, John D. Rockefeller arrived at The Ormond Hotel for the winter season, and rented an entire floor for his staff and himself. After four seasons at the hotel, anecdotal information suggests he complained of being overcharged for the rooms and decided to purchase (1918) The Casements, a nearby estate. Similar to the hotel, it is set upon the eastern shore of the Halifax River, just two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean.

Rockefeller was seventy-eight years old when he moved into the Casements. He became known in the area for his elaborate Christmas parties, his love of golf, and entertaining friends such as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. On May 23, 1937 he died in his sleep and the home was sold in 1939.

During the next 20 years, The Casements served as a girls' preparatory school, a home for the elderly, and an annex for the old Ormond Hotel located across the street. In 1959 the property was purchased by the Ormond Hotel Corporation with plans for development, but their plans never materialized. In 1972, The Casements was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The property was purchased by the City of Ormond Beach in 1973 for $500,000. Restoration, with the aid of a grant of $449,000, was completed in October 1979. The building continues to be a focal point of the Ormond Beach community offering classes, workshops, rentals and special events. The home is known as "The Jewel of Ormond Beach."

The Casements Guild was formed in 1979; its members serve as docents, guiding visitors through the house - describing its historical past and current uses by the city and the community. While the City of Ormond Beach owns and maintains The Casements, the Guild enriches the building with artifacts and enhancements.

In November 2000, the State of Florida named John D. Rockefeller a "Great Floridian" in recognition of his contributions to the history of Florida.






Rockefeller Gardens

The Casements property was originally nine acres that stretched east from the Halifax River to the present day Halifax Drive, with a private trail and right-of-way to the Atlantic Ocean. Rockefeller employed a Swedish landscape designer to develop the gardens to his own specifications.

Extensive renovations were done in 2009 to create Rockefeller Gardens. A promenade along the river entices people to stroll or take their daily exercise. An outdoor stage is used for weddings, and free movies are shown there on the first Friday of the month. In addition, a Farmers' Market is held weekly in this beautiful setting. A recent addition to the water pond on the grounds is a fountain with a sculpture of a silver king tarpon, Megalops Atlanticus.



Ormond Garage - Birthplace of Speed

In 1903, the smooth, hard-packed sands of Ormond Beach became a proving ground for automobile inventors and drivers. These first speed tournaments in the US earned Ormond the title “Birthplace of Speed.”

Records set here during speed trial tournaments for much of the next eight years would be the first significant marks recorded outside of Europe. Motorcycle and automobile owners and racers brought vehicles that used gasoline, steam and electric engines. They came from France, Germany, and England as well as from across the United States.

The Ormond Garage, the first gasoline alley before Indianapolis Speedway, was built on Hotel Ormond property in 1905 by Henry Flagler, owner of the Hotel, to accommodate up to 30 cars, drivers and mechanics during the speed time trials. Owners and manufacturers stayed, of course, at Flagler's Ormond Hotel.

Tragically, the Ormond Garage caught fire and burned to the ground in 1976, destroying one of auto history's most important landmarks as well as antique cars owned by local residents who used the Garage as a museum. A plaque commemorates the site at 113 E. Granada Blvd. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

The Birthplace of Speed Park, commemorating the world's first time trials, is located at the corner of Granada Blvd and SR A1A, where the Motor Racing Heritage Association raised funds to build a small replica of the Ormond Garage. The park was dedicated March 28, 2013, exactly 110 years after the first race. The garage houses replicas of Bullet #1 and the Pirate automobiles.

Additional historical information is available here (PDF).





World War II Coastal Watch Tower

Five days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States entrance into World War II, fifteen local individuals along with some New Smyrna Beach residents took the qualifying exams for the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Flotilla 44, called Flotilla 1-3 was formally chartered on December 18, 1941. Members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary manned the lookout tower in Ormond-By-The-Sea, approximately one mile north on A1A, near the intersection of A1A and Spanish Waters Drive, around the clock as they searched the coast for German submarines.

By May of that year, 180 vessels had been sunk. The Coast Guard Auxiliary responded to aid the sinking vessels and rescued those who were forced to abandon ship. At times, people on the beach could see these U-boat engagements. (According to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County website, during World War II German submarines sank 24 ships in Florida waters.)

In addition to their responsibilities for patrolling the beaches of Volusia and Flagler Counties, members of Flotilla 1-3 also conducted river patrols on the Intracoastal Waterway and patrolled the offshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean searching for harbor infiltrators and enemy submarines.

The 30 foot watch tower was reorganized as a historic site in the mid 1990's and refurbished in 2004, including a placard placed at its base with a brief history. It's one of the last remaining examples of a World War II era observation tower on the Florida coast.



Atlantic Ocean and Halifax River Vistas








HighBridge Park

Highbridge Park sits on the bank of the Halifax River in extreme northeast Volusia County. This one-acre park provides access to the waterway with a canoe launch, boat ramp and fishing pier which winds under the bridge.



Tomoka River

The Tomoka River is a north-flowing river in Volusia County, which passes through the cities of Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach, whereupon it flows into an 110 square mile basin, and eventually empties into the Halifax River. It's the longest river in Volusia County, excluding the St. Johns River, with a length of 19.6 miles. Near its mouth the river passes through the Tomoka Marsh Aquatic Preserve and Tomoka State Park.

Tomoka River information and map.







Ormond Scenic Loop Trail - End Main Index