T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve/Carlton Complex - 1800 Mabry Carlton Pkwy, Venice, FL 34292
The Carlton Complex of Sarasota County, Florida, includes the T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve consisting of 24,500 acres of environmental lands and the Big Slough Preserve bordering Carlton Reserve immediately to the east and containing another 4700 acres. Adjacent to and just south of the Carlton Reserve are Sarasota County's Lincer Preserve and Oak Cathedral Preserve and SWFMWD's Schewe property with a combined total of 1000 acres. The main entrance to Carlton Reserve (1800 Mabry Carlton Pkwy, Venice, FL) is just off Border Road in Venice. The Lincer Preserve, Oak Cathedral and Schewe are accessible from the Carlton Reserve via gravel Border Road. Big Slough Preserve is accessible from Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park (MCEP) (6968 Reistertown Road, North Port), or at its northern boundary from an entrance on SR 72. It is also accessible via the Carlton Reserve along its shared border. The Carlton Complex more than 100 miles of double track trails. It is also home to 25 miles of single track biking/hiking trails that have been built and are maintained by SCORR in cooperation with Sarasota County - Boldlygo, South of Border, the Live Long and Prosper trails, and POLR (Path of Least Resistance).
Boldlygo - Our most popular singletrack trail, starts at the Carlton Reserve parking area. Check out the map on the kiosk and then dive right in. Over 9.5 miles of fun, twisty riding make it the centerpiece of the trail network. There are signs to guide you forward, bailout points along the way, bypass trails, and picnic tables for taking a break. Riding out on the Boldlygo trail and returning on the marked Red Trail Return will give you a 13 mile loop (with plenty of opportunities to add miles along the way!). Just follow the arrows on the Red trail back to the parking lot.
Live Long and Prosper Trails - These technical singletrack trails extend along the banks of the Big Slough Canal, which is a man-made canal dating to the 1940’s. They are located in the Big Slough Preserve, which borders Carlton Reserve to the east as part of the Carlton Complex. Live Long, extending along the western bank of the slough, is a fun and challenging technical ride in mature oak and palm canopy on mogul hills and dips, all dating back to the construction of the canal. It is generally of intermediate difficulty, and features jumps, twists, tight turns, roots, logs, ledges and sections seemingly overhanging the bank of the slough. Prosper, running along the eastern side of the slough, is slightly less technical (still of intermediate difficulty), and a somewhat faster ride with features similar to Live Long. Prosper Return and Live Long Return trails provide return loops thru the woods. The Live Long/Live Long Return loop is 4.5 miles in length and the Prosper/Prosper Return loop is 5.3 miles in length. Or for the more adventuresome, when water levels are suitably low (use your judgment!), the water crossing at the end of Live Long can be ridden for a return via the Prosper trail, for a four mile single loop ride.
These trails are easily accessed by crossing the hike/bike/equestrian bridge that connects MCEP to Big Slough and the rest of the Carlton Complex. Take a right turn off the bridge onto the South Power Line Trail (SPLT) (which is double track gravel) for a quarter mile to the entrance to each trail. Or, for those who are up for the rewards of a few more miles and scenery, the trails can be reached from the Carlton Reserve parking area by proceeding east for approximately 10 miles out the SPLT – an easy ride that often produces great wildlife views along the way.
POLR (Path of Least Resistance) - The POLR trail begins near the north end of Live Long (about 200 yards to the southwest) near TM139 (Trail Marker) . It provides a 1.5 mile singletrack connection to the North Power Line Trail (NPLT). POLR Return provides an alternate route to and from the NPLT and in combination with POLR creates a 3.5 mile loop back to TM139. POLR or POLR Return can also be ridden as part of a loop including the TM130's and TM140's double track trails that connect back to the SPLT. The POLR/POLR Return trails wind thru oak and pine canopy. Be aware that the trail passes through wild pig territory. You may catch a glimpse of them and though they are not generally aggressive toward people, you may encounter the damage that they can do to the trails.
South of Border (SOB) - The South of Border trail at the Lincer Preserve is accessible from the Carlton Reserve parking area via the first mile of Boldlygo or via double track trails passing TM1. There is a bike/ped bridge from the Carlton Reserve to gravel Border and a gate into the Lincer Preserve. The South of Border trail is a 5 mile loop that begins and ends at the entrance gate into the Lincer Preserve. SOB winds through oak and palm hammocks and pine flatwoods. Part of the way around the loop is a picnic area with a view of the lake.
On all of the trails, you are responsible for your own safety; and, as always, helmets and good judgment are recommended. You are on your own out there. The trails (or sections of them) will flood during rainy season and will be impassable at that time. Bring all necessary food, water, supplies, tools, repair kits and your phone with you. Use these trails with care. Do not deface or modify trees, the trails or their features in any way. Enjoy, and please remember, these trails are maintained by volunteers - anything you take in with you should be brought back out by you! If you would like to volunteer to help us maintain and expand the trail network, please let us know!
Other Useful Information/Links – There are virtually limitless combinations of double track and singletrack trails to explore in the Carlton Complex to create a ride that suits your preferences.
Trail maps for Carlton Reserve are generally available at kiosks on site. Maps are available for viewing and for downloading at other locations on the BikeVeniceFlorida.com website.