What we're about

The Heartland Chapter is one of 19 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 www.HeartlandFTA.org (http://www.heartlandfta.org/) for more information about our chapter. Or go to www.floridatrail.org (http://www.floridatrail.org/) to learn more about the Florida Trail Association.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Becoming a member of this Meetup group is not to be assumed as becoming a member in the Florida Trail Association (FTA). FTA membership information is available at https://www.floridatrail.org/make-a-difference/become-a-member/ .

Upcoming events (4+)

Lake to Lake to Lake (change of date from January 27)

Hollis Garden

LOCATION: Hollis Garden parking lot, 702 E. Orange St., Lakeland FL 33801.

NOTE: Change of date from January 27th to January 20th

DESCRIPTION: This is an urban hike from Lake Mirror to Lake Morton to Lake Hollingsworth, approximately 5 miles. We will be going around Lake Hollingsworth and returning through Florida Southern College.

Optional lunch at the College's Outdoor Pizza Oven and Grill before returning to the Hollis Garden parking lot.

Please, no children under 10.

BRING OR WEAR: Wear comfortable shoes for walking, we will be on paved surfaces. Sunscreen and hat advisable. As always bring water.

1.21.2022-1.23.2022 Arbuckle 2 Day Volunteer Work Party

1558 Rucks Dairy Rd

Please join up for our annual trail Maintenance workday/work weekend at the Arbuckle Tract on the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest. We plan to have workdays both Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 to 1:00. Camp set up is available on Friday afternoon.

For those that can attend both days and would like to camp we have secured camping sites at Reedy Creek II Hunt Camp for Friday and Saturday night. The camp is located at 1558 Rucks Dairy Road, Frostproof. We will meet at the camp area prior to starting our work at 8:00. Campers can come and set up Friday and break camp after the workday on Sunday. Wayne Dobson has agreed to cook meals for our volunteers on Saturday and Sunday. Potable water will be provided. No electricity, this is a primitive campground but there is a port-a-potty available.

This will be a great weekend for camping and will be a fun event that will greatly improve our hiking experience in a unique area of our state.
In the event you cannot make both days and can work one of the two days please sign up and leave a comment on which day you will be able to work and that you do or don't plan to camp. We will need a head count to help us buy and prepare the correct amount of food.

Please wear long pants while you are doing maintenance. Bring your hard hat, glasses, loppers and gloves, we have a limited amount available for use. If you are camping, please bring whatever camping gear you need to be comfortable.

Link to trail map:

Safety Requirements:
Long pants required. Long sleeve shirt recommended.
Minimum 2 liters of water per person mandatory.
Sturdy footwear. No bare feet, flip flops, or open-toed footwear.
Insect protection.

My E-Mail address is [masked]

Lake Kissimmee State Park (Buster Island Loop Trail)

Lake Kissimmee State Park

This is a Heartland Chapter of the Florida Trail Association (FTA) hiking activity opened to the public. FTA membership is not required to participate.

DESCRIPTION: This will be a moderately paced hike of about 7 miles; we will be hiking the Buster Island Loop trail. We will meet at the Flatwood parking lot where the marina, restrooms and camp store are located. Park admission is $5.00 per car or $4.00 for one person. The hiking area is about 1.5 to 2 miles from the entrance; you will pass the campground and the Cow Camp roads. Stay on the main park road until you make a right turn into the Flatwoods parking lot. Approximate hiking time will be 3-4 hours.

***This hike is limited to 25 hikers. Please be courteous and change your reservation to "Not going" if you change your mind or cannot attend so those on the waiting list may be moved to "Going".

We will begin sign-in at 8:30 A.M. and start hiking at 9:00 A.M. The park is rich in history with living demonstrations of the early Florida "cow hunters" in an 1876-era cow camp. On the way back from our hike, we will visit the cow camp.

Lake Kissimmee State Park is located off State Road 60, 15 miles east of Lake Wales on the shores of Lakes Kissimmee, Tiger and Rosalie. This beautiful park opened to the public in 1977 and consists of nearly 6000 acres. The area is abundant with plant diversity and wildlife; white tailed deer, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, turkeys and bobcats have been spotted in the park.

Minimum 2 liters of water per person mandatory.
No bare feet, flip flops, or open-toed footwear.
Insect protection.

NOTE: Masks will be required at the trailhead during sign in. Once the hike is underway masks may be removed but reasonable social distancing is requested.

Circle B Bar Reserve Hike

Circle B Bar Reserve

This is a Heartland Chapter of the Florida Trail Association (FTA) hiking activity opened to the public. FTA membership is not required to participate. Membership in the Florida Trail Association helps us in our efforts to build, protect and promote the Florida National Scenic Trail. For FTA membership information please visit https://www.floridatrail.org/make-a-difference/become-a-member/

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 (not a walk!) with lots of opportunity to observe wildlife. Approximately 4 miles in length but route depends on conditions of trails and any closures.


Please, no children under 10.

Info including link to trail map and info on trail closures:

BRING OR WEAR: Hiking shoes, brimmed hat, water, sun, and insect
protection. Cameras and binoculars are welcomed. Masks must be worn until the hike starts. Social distancing should be practiced as much as possible.
Note: photo by our very own Lou Albrecht

Past events (726)

2022.01.15 Hike at Highland Hammock State Park

State of Florida Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

Photos (8,373)