Nestled in the Shangri-La section of the Santos trail network in Ocala, Florida, the Nayles Loop stands as a testament to the diverse biking terrains the Sunshine State offers. Often overshadowed by the famed Santos/Vortex sections, this trail packs a delightful punch, offering both fast-paced stretches and intriguing technical challenges.
Unlike many of the tracks in the Santos system, Nayles Loop starts on a high note - fast riding. As riders delve deeper, they're met with tighter sections, slow, gradual elevation changes, and an array of roots that add a layer of complexity to the climb. For those with a keen eye for speed, the expansive stretches through open forests are a dream. In contrast, the tighter, twistier segments cutting through the pine trees are perfect for those who crave a bit of a technical challenge.Yet, it's not all smooth sailing. Riders should be wary of sugar sand patches, especially during the drier months. These sections, especially at the base of some drops, can prove tricky but offer an added challenge likened by some to skiing on ice.However, the positives outweigh the challenges. Many riders commend its flowy nature, allowing for exhilarating speeds and ample opportunities to pedal continuously throughout the stretch. This constant pedaling, paired with occasional root obstacles and sharp turns, offers a genuinely athletic trail experience.
For those looking to venture into the Nayles Loop, it begins at the 49th Ave Trailhead. For interstate travelers, take I-75 to Exit 341 (CR 484). Head west for a few miles before making a right onto Marion Oaks, followed by another right on SW 49th Ave. The trailhead will be on your right.
For many, the Nayles Loop emerges as a favorite, notably for its variety and well-maintained pathways, thanks to the OMBA's efforts. Combining this trail with the Ern n Burn can provide one of Florida's most exhilarating cross-country rides. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or a newcomer to the sport, the Nayles Loop promises a memorable experience with its undulating ups and downs, shade-rich paths, and picturesque landscapes. And while some improvements could enhance the riding experience, as one rider aptly put it, "You will come out smiling."