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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 (5+)

Hike at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek State Preserve

Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek State Preserve

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. After the hike we will drive the short distance to Lake Hatchineha and have lunch at The Port restaurant overlooking the water. 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.

Trail Maintenance - Arbuckle Tract, Lake Wales Ridge State Forest

Lake Wales Ridge SF Reedy Creek Campground

Come out and help us maintain the Paula Dockery Trail in the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest - Arbuckle Tract. We will be working on the trail from the North Trailhead towards the lakeshore camp site. Please bring lunch and plenty of water. Please wear long pants, sturdy shoes/boots and bring sun/bug protection. If you have gloves you like to use, it is suggested you bring them otherwise all safety gear/tools will be provided.

Circle B Plus hike

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. Meet at the parking lot. DESCRIPTION: This hike will include the usual trails but will also take in the extension out to the Fort Frazer Trail and back. Total mileage should be six to seven miles. Afterwards we can do an optional lunch at a local restaurant. 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.

Hike at Upper Hillsbourgh Preserve

Upper Hillsborough Preserve

LOCATION: 42444 CR 54, Zephyrhills, FL 33540. Address is approximate and listed on post by trailhead. GPS approximately[masked], [masked]. Trailhead is about 2.4 miles from US 98 and on the left. DESCRIPTION: We will be doing an 8.5 mile hike. We are going to hike to the primitive camp area, have a snack, and then hike back. We should be back around 11:30 AM. This is one of Sun Coast’s trails. This lovely trail goes through woods and meadows and crosses a railroad. There are no bathroom facilities at this trailhead and parking is very limited. There is only room for possibly eight cars. The rest will have to park on the right-of way. CARPOOLING IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED. If interested, please make a note in the comments. Dogs, if well behaved are welcome. Children are welcome is they can handle an 8.5 mile long hike. Afterwards, if desired, we could eat at the Red Top Pit Stop (12160 US Highway 98 N, Lakeland, Florida). It is a few miles south of the intersection of CR 54 & US 98 on US 98. BRING OR WEAR: Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots (no flip flops or barefoot), snacks and/or lunch, and insect protection. IN ADDITION, IT IS NECESSARY TO BRING WATER.

Past events (604)

Lake to Lake to Lake

Hollis Garden

Photos (6,846)