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 (5+)

Hike at Colt Creek State Park on Martin Luther King Day.

Colt Creek State Park

LOCATION: Colt Creek State Park, 16000 SR 471, Lakeland FL 33809. We will be meeting at the South Parking lot. Please ask ranger for directions and trail map. DESCRIPTION: As of December 2018, park fee is $4/vehicle with up to eight people. There is no bathroom facility at South Parking lot. Please use the bathroom at the main pavilion (on the way to the meeting place). We will be hiking the yellow trail. It is about six miles. Route is level with some shade. Children five and older are welcome with responsible adult. If bringing dogs, they must be on a leash. After the hike, all are welcome to join me at a local restaurant in Lakeland. https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/colt-creek-state-park BRING OR WEAR: Must have water. Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots (no flip flops or barefoot), water, snacks and/or lunch, and insect protection. UPDATE FOR JANUARY 2019 HIKE: After hiking this trail several times with a tracker, the distance is closer to six miles. There will be some wet spots, bring a change of shoes. Hope to go to Red Top Pit Stop after hike, they are on US 98N just south of 471. THEY TAKE CASH ONLY. We can call ahead but they do have limited seating.

1.28.19 Trail Care at Green Swamp East FNST


DIRECTIONS: From US-98 in north Lakeland turn east onto Rockridge Rd. Total distance on Rockridge road to gate on left is about ten miles. From SR-33, turn west onto Deen Still Rd. After approximately 8 miles, turn right onto Rockridge Rd. After about 4.7 miles, the gate will be on your left. Please note, if coming from SR-33, Google maps or gps units may direct you direct you via Poyner Road to Poyner Oaks Rd N to Rockridge Rd. If coming that way, gate is on right. {There are several possible entrances to Green Swamp on Rockridge Rd. Please pay close attention to the verbal directions.} DESCRIPTION: Come out for a work day on the Florida National Scenic Trail in Green Swamp East. If you haven't previously filled out a Volunteer Profile with the Florida Trail Association (FTA), please do so before the hike. It only needs to be done once. Each person's hours will be logged onto the state site. The info on hours worked helps the FTA receive funds and/or apply for grants. Please see link to FTA website to set up a Volunteer Profile: http://www.floridatrail.org/volunteer/volunteer-profile/ Please note, bathroom facilities are not always dependable. If you're coming in from Polk City, take 33N to Poyner Road (on left). Take Poyner Road for approximately 1.1 miles to North Poyner Road (right). Take N. Poyner Road about 1.2 miles to Green Pond Road. Go left on Green Pond Road. In about 0.2 miles the Green Pond trailhead for the Van Fleet trail will be on your right. They have an excellent bathroom. BRING OR WEAR: Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots (no flip flops), work gloves, WATER, lunch; snacks if desired, and insect protection. It is suggested to wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt.

Hike at Highland Hammock State Park

State of Florida Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

LOCATION: Highlands Hammock State Park, 5931 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872. Meet at the parking lot in front of the CCC Museum. If unsure of the location, ask at the ranger station upon entry. For Google maps, use the location of State of Florida Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, Picnic Area Road. DESCRIPTION: Please note, as this is a state park, there will be an entry fee. As of Dec. 2018, fees are: $4/single occupant vehicle and $6/vehicle with up to six people. Come hike with us at one of Florida's first state park and a wonderful example of CCC construction. At this park, there are nine trails with a boardwalk that traverses an old-growth cypress swamp. We will be hiking around six miles. All are welcome at the end of the hike to eat lunch with us in the picnic area. Children five and older are welcome with responsible adult. Because of boardwalk restrictions, DO NOT BRING DOGS FOR THIS HIKE. https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/highlands-hammock-state-park BRING OR WEAR: Walking or hiking shoes, WATER, snacks, sun and insect protection. If staying for lunch, it can be left in vehicle during walk.

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 Garden Bistro upon return to the Magnolia Building. The Garden Bistro is at the same address. 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.

Past events (601)

1.13.19 Hike at Circle B Bar Reserve.

Polk's Nature Discovery Center

Photos (6,742)