by Dana Farnsworth, Outdoor Travels - Balm Boyette Scrub Preserve - the bastard stepchild that doesn't get the attention it deserves. No matter how wonderful the cross country riding, no matter how pretty the scenery, no matter how diverse the terrain and the trail personalities, Boyette seems doomed to live in the shadow of its more popular neighbor Alafia State Park.
One would think that Boyette offers little to the mountain bike rider, based on the limited traffic of knobby tires on any given weekend. After riding Balm Boyette off and on for a couple of years now, I can tell you that most riders have no idea what they are missing.
Boyette does itself no favors with its location. Once a phosphate mine, the area is somewhat hidden from any major road and can be hard to find. My first attempt ended in mad frustration when the directions in my guide book were incorrect!
What are you missing if you haven't ridden Boyette before? Well, first there is the 12 continuous mile Forested Loop Trail. Almost a separate entity from the rest of Boyette, this loop offers up a long and winding, uninterrupted stretch of oak and pine shaded single track that one can really stretch their legs on. As the trail winds back on itself over and over again, it's easy to fall into a hypnotic-like trance.
Boyette also features some of the best cross country type riding around. Miles of unobstructed single track weaves its way along the edges of lakes, through pretty and unique prarie-type fields (which are better explored in the non-summer months), and forested canopy with brilliant green ferns lining the trail. There are a couple of short climbs here and there as well as some nice intermediate level challenges.