What we're about

The Heartland Chapter is one of 18 chapters for the Florida Trail Association. The FTA is a volunteer group that maintains the Florida National Scenic Trail, a 1500 mile thru hiking trail from Big Cypress to the Panhandle. The Heartland Chapter is responsible for the maintenance of the trail in Polk, Highlands, Hardee and Desoto counties. We also maintain several loop trails throughout Polk County. Visit us at heartland.floridatrail.org for more information about our chapter. Or go to www.floridatrail.org to learn more about the Florida Trail Association.

Upcoming events (4)

Kayak the Peace River from Paynes Creek to Zolfo Springs

Paynes Creek Historic State Park

LOCATION: Paynes Creek Historic State Park; 888 Lake Branch Road, NE; Bowling Green, FL 33834. Meet at the canoe/kayak launch. Ask ranger for directions to launch. DESCRIPTION: There is a fee to enter the state park. As of December 2018, it was $3/vehicle. At entrance, please ask for directions to the canoe launch and also to restrooms. Restrooms are in a different location than launch. Join us as we paddle down the Peace River starting from the canoe launch at Paynes Creek Historic State Park and ending at Pioneer Park in Zolfo Springs. We will drop the kayaks off at the State Park, then shuttle the cars to Pioneer Park in Zolfo Springs. Please arrive on time as we will need time for the shuttle. Not counting the shuttle time, the paddle will take about 3-4 hours. We will stop along the way for snack break at Wauchula. The distance on the water is approximately 8-10 miles. This is a one-way paddle downstream. Following the paddle, all are invited to eat at Pioneer Restaurant in Zolfo Springs. As we will be shuttling cars, whenever possible, PLEASE HAVE ROOM AVAILABLE in your vehicle to EITHER bring people back in the beginning of the trip (from the take out parking area back to the launch site) OR be able at the end to bring a driver plus kayak back (from the take out parking area back to their vehicle in the launch area). Your help with this will be appreciated. Info on Peace River Paddling trail: https://floridadep.gov/sites/default/files/Peace_R_Guide_0.pdf Pioneer Park address is 231 Wilbur C King Blvd, Zolfo Springs, FL 33890. For anyone interested, they do have camping there. Website: http://www.hardeecounty.net/site/content/parks/pioneer_park.html Pioneer Restaurant address is 2902 US-17, Zolfo Springs FL 33890. Reviews: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34758-d4108845-Reviews-Pioneer_Restaurant-Zolfo_Springs_Florida.html BRING OR WEAR: Kayak or canoe, PFD, paddle, whistle, water, snacks and/or lunch, sun and insect protection. If going to lunch at Pioneer Restaurant after kayaking, bring cash as they do not accept credit card.

3.24.19 Hike at Circle B Bar Reserve

Polk's Nature Discovery Center

LOCATION: Circle B Bar Reserve; 4399 Winter Lake Road (SR 540); Lakeland, FL 33803. For Google maps use Polk’s Nature Discovery Center, Discovery Drive, Lakeland, FL. Meet in the Nature Center parking lot. DESCRIPTION: This is a moderately paced hike with lots of opportunity to observe wildlife. It will be a two-part hike. The first half will be 2.5 miles (approximately) and then those wishing to leave may do so. The second half will be another 2.0 miles. PETS ARE NOT ALLOWED AT THIS LOCATION. Please, no children under 10. Info including link to trail map and info on trail closures: http://polknature.com/explore/circle-b-bar-reserve#panel1 BRING OR WEAR: Hiking shoes, brimmed hat, water, sun, and insect protection. Cameras and binoculars are welcomed.

Earth Day Event Weekend Camping at Highlands Hammock State Park

Highlands Hammock State Park

Enjoy a weekend of leisurely state park camping. Come join us for the weekend or just the day, Friday night will be a simple get-together around the campfire, Share your outdoor adventure experiences, knot tying skills, a favorite ghost story, or whatever comes to mind! Saturday morning will be impromptu hikes on any of the park's many trails. Longest trail is just under 3 miles. Also on Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m., Highlands Hammock State Park will be hosting a Earth Day event. FTA will have a booth at the event. Come and enjoy the day; wear your FTA t-shirt; let people know about hiking the NFST and the many other trails in Florida. The event ends at 3 p.m. Saturday evening dinner can be on your own or a group outing to one of many restaurants in Sebring, FL, a short 4 mile drive away. Check-out on Sunday is 1 p.m. Hope to see you there! Camping reservations for Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring, FL can be made on the Reserve America website; www.reserveamerica.com

3.24.19 Hike at Circle B Bar Reserve

Polk's Nature Discovery Center

DESCRIPTION: This is a moderately paced hike with lots of opportunity to observe wildlife. It will be a two-part hike. The first half will be 2.5 miles (approximately) and then those wishing to leave may do so. The second half will be another 2.0 miles. PETS ARE NOT ALLOWED AT THIS LOCATION. Please, no children under 10. Info including link to trail map and info on trail closures: http://polknature.com/explore/circle-b-bar-reserve#panel1 BRING OR WEAR: Hiking shoes, brimmed hat, water, sun, and insect protection. Cameras and binoculars are welcomed.

Past events (610)

March 2019 Chapter Meeting, Pot Luck, and Planning Session

Polk's Nature Discovery Center

Photos (6,963)