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+)

Hike at Tenoroc, Saddle Creek RD entrance Lost Lake East

Saddle Creek Park trails Entry

This is a 5.5 mile moderate hike. Sign in starts 7:30am, as we will leave promptly at 8am,

We will hike the flat woods trail then the Lost Lake hilly trail ( Trekking poles are recommended) After that we cross Saddle Creek Rd and hike to the 4 benches.
Most of the trails will be in the shade.

Bring at least 1 liter water, good shoes, mosquito spray

You do not have to pay as this is a FTA hike. If you come on your own you have go the check in Station on Tenoroc Mine Rd, and pay $3.00

Please follow COVID precautions & wear a face mask during sign in. Once on the trail, masks can be removed while maintaining social distance.
Anyone attending must see & adhere to the new FTA Covid-19 rules. go to https://floridatrail.org/covid-19/.

Bike ride on Ft. Fraser Trail

Fort Fraser Rail Trail - Main Trailhead

Come out and join the Heartland Chapter for a bike ride along the Fort Fraser trail between Lakeland and Bartow. We will be meeting at the Highland City Trailhead. There are bathrooms at this trailhead.

Please note, due to covid, this event will be limited to 20 people. If you sign up AND cannot attend, please be considerate and change your RSVP to no.

The length of the trail itself is about 7.75 miles one-way and runs parallel to South US98. We will be doing some additional mileage when we take the extension which leads to the Circle B border. We will also be leaving the trail when we take, for the first time, the cutoff to the southern trailhead of the Panther Point trail at the new Lake Hancock boat ramp on Saddle Creek.

I anticipate the bike ride to be about three to four hours.

Bring helmet, water, snacks and sun protection. If bringing anyone under 16, they MUST wear a helmet per state law.

Some of the links below may be old but information re trailheads is still viable:




The Highland City trailhead is just south of the Publix shopping center which is on the west side of South US98. Club House Road borders the southern part of the shopping center. On South US 98, at the intersection of Club House Road & 98, TURN EAST (LEFT if going south) onto Club House Road. Very shortly after that, turn right onto 1st. SE. From there, it's a right turn onto Central Avenue. You will see the parking lot and restroom. We will be in the parking lot.

In addition to FTA covid guidelines, link below; MASKS will be required when group is in the beginning circle. Please have them available if we group together at times during the ride. Thank you.

Please see https://floridatrail.org/covid-19/

Colt Creek State Park Wild Flower Hike

Colt Creek State Park

This is a moderately paced hike of about 6 miles on the yellow trail, located near the equestrian campground in the southern end of the park. We should be able to view and enjoy the abundance of wild flowers that thrive near the trail during this time of year.

We will begin the sign up at 8:30 and step out on the trail at 9:00. Please allow yourselves at least 15 to 20 minutes to drive to the south parking from the entrance at the Ranger Station.

Hiking shoes, at least 2 liters water, sun and insect protection. Masks must be worn until the hike starts. Social distancing should be practiced as much as possible.

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.

Past events (705)

Circle B Bar Reserve Hike

Circle B Bar Reserve

Photos (8,112)