As Polk County continues to add to its array of natural lands, recreation opportunities are on the increase throughout the region for both hikers and cyclists. Lakeland is a hub for recreation along the central Lake Wales Ridge and into the Green Swamp as well as the Alafia River valley.

Nearby: Brandon, Clermont, Dade City, Kissimmee, Lake Wales, Orlando, Tampa, Walt Disney World

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Trails and Parks in Lakeland

  • One of the non-biking trails at Alafia River State Park Alafia River State Park - One of the few saving graces of former phosphate mines is that they provide awesome air for mountain bikers in Florida, and Alafia River State Park is one of the rare places where you can launch on a Florida downhill.
  • Aldermans Ford Preserve Alderman’s Ford Nature Preserve - Alderman's Ford Nature Preserve offers a surprising treat for a Central Florida hike: whitewater, showcasing the Alafia River churning as it winds through a deeply eroded channel
  • Alderman's Ford Park Alderman’s Ford Park - An easy loop at Alderman’s Ford Park, the Lithia Nature Trail slips behind the nature center for a walk in under ancient trees along the river’s floodplain corridor
  • Atop Iron Mountain at Bok Tower Gardens Bok Tower Gardens - Atop one of the highest hills in the Florida Peninsula, Bok Tower Gardens is one of Florida's most spectacular landscaped gardens, “something to appeal to both man and animal, a meditative place,” as envisioned by Edward William Bok in the 1920s.
  • Buster Island Loop Buster Island Loop - The 7-mile Buster Island Loop at Lake Kissimmee State Park is a favorite for both day hikers and backpackers, as it shows off a variety of habitats along the open prairies
  • Pond at Catfish Creek Preserve Catfish Creek Preserve State Park - On the ridges at Catfish Creek Preserve State Park, some steep as a ski slope, these elevated slivers of blinding white sand are some of Florida's most ancient hills.
  • Catfish Creek Preserve State Park Catfish Creek Preserve Trails - Allan David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park isn’t just “a perfect example of Lake Wales Ridge Scrub,” it’s a landscape unlike any other you’ll find in Florida.
  • Circle B Bar Preserve Circle B Bar Reserve - At Circle B Bar Reserve, an extensive network of trails with an outer circuit of nearly 6 miles is atop the levees through vibrant wetlands near Lake Hancock.
  • Colt Creek State Park Colt Creek State Park - A former 5,000-acre cattle ranch in the midst of the Green Swamp Wilderness Area, headwaters to the Hillsborough, Peace, Ocklawaha, and Withlacoochee Rivers, Colt Creek State Park is a mosaic of wetlands and uplands with extensive forest roads serving as trails
  • Eureka Springs Eureka Springs - Eureka Springs Park includes what remains of a tropical botanical garden established in 1938 around springs that fed a lush floodplain forest along Six Mile Creek.
  • Inside the reconstructed Fort Foster Fort Foster State Historic Site - Part of Hillsborough River State Park, Fort Foster State Historic Site takes you back to the era of Florida's earliest pioneer settlers and their clashes with the native Seminoles.
  • Gator Creek Preserve Gator Creek Preserve - A dip into a corner of the Green Swamp, Gator Creek Preserve north of Lakeland offers 2.5 miles of easy loop trails for the whole family to explore
  • Hillsborough River State Park Hillsborough River State Park - Water in motion: the Hillsborough rapids foam and froth over limestone boulders beneath grand cypress trees in Class II rapids. One of Florida's oldest state parks, Hillsborough River State Park showcases this masterpiece of nature from an overlook and trail system built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
  • Hollis Garden Hollis Garden - Snuggled along Lake Mirror in downtown Lakeland, this 1.2 acre formal garden is presented as a series of themed gardens, starting with a secretive fern and waterlily grotto at the top of the hill and an arboretum of historic trees.
  • Holloway Park Holloway Park - With day hiking and cross country trails, Holloway Park & Nature Preserve is a slice of nature inside the city limits of Lakeland, just off the Polk Parkway.
  • John B Sargeant Park John B Sargeant Park - At the scenic confluence of Flint Creek with the Hillsborough River, John B Sargeant Park provides access to the Hillsborough River State Canoe Trail amid a lush cypress floodplain, with a boardwalk and footpath showcasing the views.
  • Lake Louisa State Park Lake Louisa Hiking Trail - Extending between the park entrance and the recreation area along Lake Louisa, the Lake Louisa Hiking Trail showcases the habitats found along and above the lake.
  • Wild irises at Huckleberry Island Lake Marion Huckleberry Island - Providing an easy walk into 8,000 acres of uplands draining into Lake Marion Creek, the trail system on Huckleberry Island at Lake Marion Creek WMA leads 4.2 miles.
  • Lakeland Scrub Lakeland Highlands Scrub - The Lakeland Highlands Scrub protects 160 acres of scrub habitats along the Lakeland Ridge. It shows them off with this easy loop trail and a tougher network of forest roads
  • Marshes along the Little Manatee River Little Manatee River Hiking Trail - At Little Manatee River State Park, experience nearly a dozen different habitats along your choice of loops on one of Central Florida’s most interesting day hikes
  • Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve - Providing plenty of recreation opportunities, Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve protects 16,000 acres of floodplain forests and uplands along the river's sinuous flow south from the Green Swamp to the edge of Tampa.
  • Morris Bridge Park Morris Bridge Park - Immersing you in the floodplain forest of the Hillsborough River, Morris Bridge Park has a short but beautiful boardwalk amid the deep shade of tall cypresses and oaks. Each twist and turn presents a different panorama of the swamp.
  • Mosaic Peace River Park Mosaic Peace River Park - At the site of a former phosphate mine, a boardwalk slips through the cypress swamps of the Peace River floodplain at Mosaic Peace River Park near Fort Meade.
  • Shoreline of Lake Kissimmee North Loop and Gobbler Ridge Trails - The lesser used of the two long loops at Lake Kissimmee State Park, the North Loop leads you through shady oak hammocks to pine flatwoods above the scrub-lined shore of Lake Kissimmee
  • Saddle Creek Park Saddle Creek Park Nature Trail - An urban park just on the fringe of the industrial area east of downtown Lakeland, Saddle Creek Park has a 2.4 mile round-trip birding trail and a connector to Tenoroc.
  • Trout Creek Nature Trail Trout Creek Nature Park - Under a tight-knit canopy of live oaks, Trout Creek Nature Park provides a pleasant place for a family picnic and a nature walk along the floodplain of the Hillsborough River.

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