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 (5)

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. 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. Masks must be worn until the hike starts. Social distancing should be practiced as much as possible.

Hike at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek State Preserve (Strenuous Hike)

Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek State Preserve

NOTE CHANGE OF DATE FROM Saturday,January 30 to Sunday, January 31st LOCATION: Trailhead address is 4335 Firetower Road, Haines City, FL 33844. Please follow written directions or use GPS address. Catfish Creek Preserve is located about 35 miles south of Orlando. From SR 17, turn east on Lake Hatchineha Road (CR 542). Go about eight miles to Firetower Road. Turn right onto Firetower Road and proceed slightly less than three miles to the parking lot on the left. Approximate GPS of parking lot:[masked], [masked] DESCRIPTION: This will be a 5 to 6-mile hike in the Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve located near Lake Pierce in the northeastern section of Polk County. Located along the beautiful Lake Wales Ridge, the Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park covers more than 8,000 acres of scrub, sandhill and flatwoods land. The Preserve is home to numerous rare plants, such as the scrub morning glory, scrub plum, pygmy fringe tree, cutthroat grass and several protected animal species including Florida scrub-jays, bald eagles, gopher tortoises and Florida scrub lizards. Make sure you are prepared for the rugged conditions typical of the scrub habitat. There is one restroom at the trailhead parking lot. There is no entrance fee. Please, no children under 10. Link to general info: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/catfish-creek Link to map info: https://www.floridastateparks.org/sites/default/files/Division%20of%20Recreation%20and%20Parks/documents/catfish%20creek%20trail%20map%202013.pdf BRING OR WEAR: Plenty of WATER/DRINK, insect repellant, sunscreen, snacks and hat. Hiking boots are highly recommended and if you have hiking poles you may find them useful in the soft sand areas.

Lake to Lake to Lake

Hollis Garden

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

Weekender in One Day: 18 mile hike

17301 Rockridge Rd

This is a Florida Trail Association sponsored event. Green Swamp East, the weekend loop, about 18 miles, is in excellent condition and ready for the long distance hiker. We will be doing the entire loop on a Friday when there is no hunting. ( we can scout the primitive camp ground for future backpacking adventures!) The swamp should be dry, but it is the swamp. For all practical purposes there is no cell reception, no readily available water, and no take out points. All hikers must be experienced distance hikers in excellent physical condition. The group will not return with a hiker to their vehicle nor will hikers be allowed to leave: make sure you are physically and mentally prepared to go the distance. You will need at least 3 liters of water, lunch/snacks, sun block, bug block, etc. Experienced Florida hikers, you know what you need. The hike begins at 8:30am sharp. Please arrive early to sign release statement of liability and that you have read and are in compliance with the COVID regulations. As stated I will not have cell service. The lead will be stepping out on the trail at 8:30 . COVID regulations can be read on the Florida Trail Association web site. We will hike in rain or heat or cold. Please be considerate of other hikers who know they want to do the 18 miles regardless of conditions and do not sign up until you are certain. Thanks. Looking forward to exploring this trail with you

Past events (680)

Circle B Bar Reserve Hike

Circle B Bar Reserve

Photos (7,809)