Opening of 6.7-mile North Gap completes Pinellas Trail’s 75-mile loop

Opening of 6.7-mile North Gap completes Pinellas Trail’s 75-mile loop

A biker on the Pinellas Trail crossing a bridge
Photo courtesy Pinellas County

Construction expanding the Pinellas Trail into a complete 75-mile loop is now almost entirely finished after the opening of the North Gap last week, a 6.7-mile tract extending from John Chesnut Sr. Park to the Duke Energy Trailhead at Enterprise Road in Clearwater.

Officials celebrated the opening of the North Gap as the final big piece in connecting the entirety of Pinellas County through the now-75-mile Pinellas Trail. The only construction remaining now is a new pedestrian bridge over the Lake Tarpon Outfall Canal, though there is currently signage in place connecting the trail via pedestrian sidewalks. Construction of the bridge will begin in 2023 and be completed in the summer of 2024.

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Highlights of this final section of Pinellas Trail include easy access to John Chesnut Sr. Park, Westfield Countryside Mall and the Countryside Community Park, as well as several residential neighborhoods. In addition to meeting all ADA standards, this newest portion of the trail features 12-foot wide paved paths throughout most of the 6.7-mile stretch, though a few areas are limited to eight feet due to private properties.

Pinellas Trail has connected the county for more than 30 years

The Pinellas Trail first opened in 1990 on an abandoned railroad line, and in the years since it has been extended across the county to create a unique urban pedestrian and bicycle connector to all the unique communities in Pinellas. Even while so many of the cities have grown and seen extensive developments, the Pinellas Trail has remained a priceless haven, lined with art and natural beauty.

The Pinellas Trail has actually been inducted into the National Rails to Trails Hall of Fame, and is a two-time winner of the Best Trail of Florida award from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Office of Greenways and Trails.

Stretching from St. Pete to Tarpon Springs (and back) the trail connects to Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor, Largo, Seminole, South Pasadena and Gulfport. The Loop also provides regional connections to Hillsborough and Pasco County trail networks, and links to the western end of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Connector Trail, a 250-mile multi-use trail that will cross the width of Florida.

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