This former railroad extends 29.2 miles from Polk City to Mabel and traverses three counties: Polk, Lake, and Sumter. Officially designated as part of Florida’s Statewide System of Greenways and Trails and is one of Florida’s most rural, paved rail-trails. Also designated as a National Recreation Trail®, the Van Fleet State Trail runs through the Green Swamp, the headwaters for some of Florida’s most popular paddling destinations, including the Withlacoochee, Hillsborough, and Peace rivers.
Landscapes include the river swamp, bottomland forest, pine flatwoods, former citrus lands, and cattle ranches. With only one curve in its 29.2 miles, you can choose to go slow and view the wildlife or enjoy it at a brisk pace. An equestrian trail parallels the length of the paved path. The trail has excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, especially between Green Pond Road and Bay Lake Road. Hunting is allowed in the Green Swamp and Richloam wildlife management areas, found on the western side of the northern half of the trail. The trail remains open during hunting seasons.
There are four trailheads throughout the 29.2-mile trail:
Polk City Station: Parking lot with picnic pavilion and barbecue grill. There is a convenience store and restaurants nearby.
Green Pond: Parking lot with picnic pavilion and barbecue grill. Restroom facilities north of this trailhead.
Bay Lake: Parking lot with picnic pavilion and restroom facilities.
Mabel: Parking lot with picnic pavilion, barbecue grill and restroom facilities.
Soon we’ll have more information about rides, events, and all the great places to see and things to do on your next Florida bicycling adventure. We’ll announce the updates in our newsletter, so sign up now!
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