Undeveloped Splendor: The Lake Overstreet Trails

by Wesley Garrity

TFM_Summer_Web_Page_13_Image_0001There are certain things that make some cities great. Some have beautiful architecture rich with planned lines and inviting windows. Others have massive bridges towering defiantly from their unseen anchors in the depths, spanning waterways and connecting the lives of those who live there. Tallahassee, however, is blessed with abundant natural beauty. I recently found myself immersed in this natural splendor, walking among the silent giant pines and around undeveloped Lake Overstreet. The Lake Overstreet Trail system is truly a forgotten (or perhaps undiscovered) pearl in Tallahassee.

There are several things that make these trails so captivating. The lake is located on North Meridian Road, tucked between the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park and the extensive City of Tallahassee Forrest Meadows Sports Complex. This location makes Lake Overstreet very accessible and effectively connects the two. There are three trail heads; one located within Maclay State Park, one off Meridian Road and one off Maclay Road. The Lake Overstreet Trails are considered part of Maclay State Park so an admission fee is required, but if you enter through Maclay via a vehicle, your entry fee is already paid; if you are a Florida State Park Annual Pass holder, you’ll be granted free access as well.

TFM_Summer_Web_Page_13_Image_0002The main and most convenient way to enter the trail system is via the Forest Meadows city park (at Meridian Road). There are parking areas and a nice playground in front of the Forest Meadows Athletic Center where the tennis courts and swimming pool are. Make your way across Meridian Road by using the crosswalk signal, and you’re off and hiking. Once in the park you will pay your entrance fee at the iron guard (a day pass will cost you two dollars per person). Use the provided envelopes and follow the few instructions to pay your admission.

Once in the park you will notice a trail map, and the first thing that stands out is the layout of the trails. Lake Overstreet Trails are divided into two main trail systems. Two loops of double track trails make up the multi-use trail. This is where hikers, bikes and horses all coexist. One loop labeled the Ravine Loop is about 1.75 miles and connects up with the second loop tagged Lake Overstreet Loop at around 3 miles long. Both loops are very relaxed hiking, TFM_Summer_Web_Page_13_Image_0003suitable for novice trail blazers of every age. As you hike farther from the hum of Meridian Road, the white noise lessens and you realize you are surrounded by pure Florida. It is a wonderful place to quiet your mind and experience the “now.” Those who venture the distance of the Lake Overstreet Loop are in for a real treat. Lake Overstreet is pretty much undeveloped, so looking out over the lake from one of the viewing areas has an overwhelming effect. Swimming, boating, fishing and, of course, hunting are all prohibited so it is pristine Mother Nature with a “look but don’t touch” kind of vibe. Both loops can be hiked in under three hours at a leisurely pace. During the hot months, wear bug repellent and bring water. Most of the trail is well-shaded.

If pedaling through the woods is more your cup of tea, Lake Overstreet has you covered. The other group of trails are 3 miles of single track built and maintained by Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association. These trails meander through the woods in three joined loops with interesting offshoots to explore. The trails are woodsy and considered novice but don’t let TFM_Summer_Web_Page_13_Image_0004that deter you; they are great fun. If the Lake Overstreet Trails felt like a warm up then you are in luck. Another thing that makes these trails so cool is that they’re across the street from the Red Bug mountain bike trail, a 4-mile loop of hills, roots and switchbacks. Whether you ride or hike, the Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park is just to the west of the Forest Meadows Sports Complex. This maze of winding loops stretches all the way to Lake Jackson allowing riders and hikers to explore Tallahassee’s great gifts for hours.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy the Lake Overstreet Trail is to park my car at Market Square, usually near one of the great local pizza spots in the area. From there I unload my bike and make my way west to link up with the large power-line double track trail, then head north toward Lake Overstreet Trail. Part of the fun with this ride is exploring, so I won’t give turn-for-turn directions, but it’s easy to find. Always be mindful of private property, especially the residential property in the area. The power-line trail ends at Maclay Road. Across the street is the third entrance to the Lake Overstreet Trail complete with iron guard and trail map. Ride to your delight and make your way back for some well-deserved lunch and libations at one of the many local restaurants in the area. Most of the restaurants in this area have outdoor seating available which is probably the polite way to go, especially if you just spent two hours in the saddle. There is also a bike shop nearby if you find yourself in need of parts or service.


No matter how you choose to enjoy the Lake Overstreet Trails you won’t be disappointed. The charming, inviting woods of Tallahassee always has something to teach. “Not all those who wander are lost.”

Wesley Garrity has lived in Tallahassee for more than 20 years. He loves the outdoors and tries his very best, though often unsuccessfully, to get lost
wherever he goes.

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