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Author Topic: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County  (Read 3715 times)

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Offline infinitempg

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Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« on: March 09, 2007, 11:41:59 AM »
We have lived in eastern Manatee County for several decades and watched the growth exploode around us.  A few years ago we got a copy of the SWFWMD book for recreational lands.  We explored several places around and were impressed with the lands of the Gilley Creek Tract in eastern Manatee County. 

http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/edwardchance-gilley.html

There is 12 miles of old roads and trails on 5,800 acres but it has mainly been used for equestrian use.  We started hiking it and then started mountain biking as this is a rare find that SWFWMD allows biking on these lands.  It's very undeveloped and nothing like Alafia or Croom or anything like that, but it's got some potential.  We started setting geocaches out there and have had it grow for geocaching and have tried to get the word out for hikers and bikers, too.  We even set up a web page for information for the place :

http://www.infinitempg.com/gilley.htm

We still have it listed as Lake Manatee Reserve but SWFWMD recently changed it to Edward W. Chance Reserve.  I have received some planning information from SWFWMD and they are clearing more and more and trying to make it a nice recreational area with everything except overnight camping.  It will also be included with the trails system in Manatee County that will eventually link several locations together from Rye to Gilley to Duette.  Looks like it could be pretty interesting. 

Just thought I'd drop in here and post some info on the place and maybe get some buzz going about it.  We ride Alafia and Croom and Morris Bridge and like those places and would like to see something like that devlope down in this area and think Gilley (or possibly Coker Prarie right down the road from Gilley but not open to biking.... yet) might have some potential to grow.  Knowing the quality of trails that SWAMPers manage we thought this might be the foundation for another trail system.

Just thought I'd throw this out on the table and see what stirs up.
Thanks for all your hard work, it is greatly appreciated!
Scott
"You never learn anything by doing it right"

Offline dennis_reichel

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Re: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2007, 06:33:10 PM »
This is very much like Dupuis Park on the east side of Lake Okeechobee near Indiantown. (Also SFWMD land) Force MTB Club http://forcemtb.org began cutting singletrack in February 2007.  We too see huge potential for MTB on this land. 

-- Dennis

Offline EllsRider

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Re: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2007, 08:49:15 PM »
Awesome!!  While you guys are at it    ---     I would like to put in one order for a 14 mile loop with long gradual climbs and downhill sections that sweep gracefully between the trees before  it enters fields of green alfalfa and wild flowers with eagles soaring in the sky as the trail wraps around a beautifil tree lined pond and then into a mild technical section and wraps itself  through thick Florida swamp forest making its way back to the beginning section. And when its done and ready to be ridden, I would like to name it!  Just kidding. Please keep us posted as far as when trails can be built. I live in SE Hillsborough and I will help build these dream trails.  (Manatee trails that is) :D
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Offline firebiker

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Re: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2007, 10:06:19 PM »
I know where that is. We have an area here in Sarasota that supposedly a "Mountain Bike Club" is building trails on. But I work out there and have not yet seen evidence of singletrack. I have not gotten a clear answer on which club this is. It's on a county owned preserve. Mostly pine flatwoods, hammocks and wetlands. Very flat and sandy. The only other single track in this area is in North Port but there are many problems there. Keep posting any info about trail building there. I will help some of the manual labor.   
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Offline dennis_reichel

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Re: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2007, 08:27:06 AM »
I know where that is. We have an area here in Sarasota that supposedly a "Mountain Bike Club" is building trails on.
[...]
only other single track in this area is in North Port but there are many problems there. Keep posting any info about

I was looking on line for mention of a mtb club in Sarasota and couldn't find anything.  It would be nice if more bike shops would include bike club contact info and ride/event schedules on their sites.  What's wrong with North Port?  I am planning a trip to Sarasota to pick up a used bike and wanted to stop off at North Port and Caloosahatchee to check out those trails. -- Dennis

Offline firebiker

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Re: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2007, 09:08:18 AM »
North Port trails can be pretty good. However, they are not maintained as well as SWAMP's. There is also an issue with a golf course that it crosses. I think there are some legal issues with it. Erosion has taken it's toll on the trails and so have the ATV's. (many roots) It has been several months since I've been there so it might be worth a try.
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Offline RiskEverything

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Re: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2007, 01:49:30 PM »
I live in west Bradenton. Send me a message next time you're heading out if you'd like some more company. I would like to help build and maintain some trails closer to home for a change...
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Offline infinitempg

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Re: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2007, 02:13:00 PM »
We're trying to set up another trip out to Gilley in the next couple weeks (last trip was about 12 hours) as SWFWMD has been really busy in the southern section and we're really curious as to what they might have done in the norther (larger) section.  I am also gonna throw (maybe literally) my kayak in Lake Manatee and paddle in to see how far I can get in Gilley Creek.  Used to not be able to see the creek at all but last week I found a clearing pretty far in and even there the water seemed high enough to paddle in.  Pretty around the creek, too (and very remote which we really like).

I will post any info on a trip out there as we don't mind company.  We've been going out there on foot and on bike for over a year so we know some of the things to see and avoid.  We were really excited to see they packed down the firebreaks which were normally too rough to even walk your bike thru.  Lots of side trails not on the trail map and we've been down a lot so I'll be posting the waymarks from my GPS tracks so everyone can see the extent of the trails right now.  Lots of land and the main feeder for water to Lake Manatee so SWFWMD will keep anything from developing out there (a really GOOD thing).  Looking forward to some trails worth riding in Manatee.

Thanks for the good responses and more info to post soon.
Scott

"You never learn anything by doing it right"

Offline infinitempg

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Re: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2007, 02:22:20 PM »
On a side note about the Gilley Creek area, if anyone is into doing some geocaching along with their biking (www.geocaching.com) over the last year or so, several of us local geocachers have really latched on to SWFWMD's open policy, and Gilley Creek's large amount of land, and there are currently around 40 geocahes just within the Gilley Creek boundaries.  So for a good long day out there biking or hiking, an extreme geocacher can really rack up some finds!  Just a side note as we often combine hiking or biking and geocaching together  :O)

Thanks,
Scott
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Offline RiskEverything

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Re: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2007, 08:24:37 PM »
I've also got a kayak- a 14'6" Hyperform Prijon. It's a sit-inside race/cruise type- would that be too big to navigate up the creek? I need to make a rack for it on my truck, right now it just hides behind the house  :P
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Offline infinitempg

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Re: Gilley Creek Tract - Eastern Manatee County
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2007, 11:14:43 PM »
That length is not too long for rivers.  I have a Tampico Hurricane that's 13-1/2' and a Perception Carolina that's 15-1/2' and I use them both on rivers.  Obviously the shorter the better for winding rivers but the longer the faster for the open water and straight runs. 

I got a wild hair today and scooted up to Gilley Creek Tract after work with my bike and hit the trails and went from the parking area to the far corner and back before dark, 14-1/2 miles of lots of grassy tracks, sandy paths, field areas and some nice places.  SWFWMD hasn't done much in the northern section since we were out in January.  It's a tough ride, not a test of tactics, but definitely a test of endurance.  It's a really raw bit of land that has some potential for development into some decent biking tracks.

Has anyone had luck working with SWFWMD on devloping biking trails on their lands?  Not sure of how to approach them about this.  Actually, not sure how things work to evolve some former farming land into a decent place to bike.  Some places are soft sand and need something to make it bikeable.  Some areas are old farm roads overgrown with grass, mowed and packed but still tough to ride thru.  But some places are really awesome oak hammocks with little creeks and streams.  Even has potential spots for a canoe launch in the south area. 

We're off to Suwannee this weekend but I'll try to set something up to get some people together sometime and make a day touring the place to see what might could be done.  Anyone have a problem making it a weekday?  I have some vacation time to burn and our weekends are usually pretty full.  Rode Sunday at Alafia, really impressed with what you guys have done with that place, the trails are incredible and while some people fly thru like it's nothing, it's pushing my limits.  Also makes me wish for some extra income as my jealousy glands were pumping seeing all the great new bikes running all around those trails  ;D  Gilley doesn't have the terrain to become something like that, but it has the space to be a nice long ride, we need that down here.

Thanks for all the input here, very much appreciated!
Scott
"You never learn anything by doing it right"

 

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