It’s not a long walk, but it’s an interesting one. Since the Flatwoods Pond Trail is squeezed between the campground, picnic area, and marina, deer tend to ramble through here.
While less than a half mile in length, this loop shows off several habitats surrounding the pond while speaking to historic uses of this land that is now preserved as a state park.
Our resources for exploring the area. A full writeup of this hike and others in this park can be found in 50 Hikes in Central Florida
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Location: Lake Wales
Length: 0.4 mile loop
Trailhead: 27.9440, -81.3548
Address: 14248 Camp Mack Rd, Lake Wales
Fees: $4-5 per vehicle
Restroom: At the marina trailhead
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset. Hours may change, check ahead. Leashed pets welcome.
From the junction of US 27 and SR 60 in Lake Wales, head east on SR 60 for 9.7 miles to Boy Scout Camp Road. Turn left and drive 3.5 miles to Camp Mack Road. Turn right, following this road 5.4 miles to the park entrance on the right. After you enter through the ranger station, the park road twists and winds through the oak hammocks for more than 3.5 miles. Pass Cow Camp Road and turn into the next parking area past it, at the marina.
Like the Buster Island Loop and the North Loop, you must follow the beaten path from the marina up along the Zipprer Canal towards Cow Camp Road.
At the large kiosk with the hiker symbol next to it, turn right and look across the park road. You’ll see the sign for the start of the Flatwoods Pond Trail on the opposite side.
Baby blue blazes lead you into an oak hammock with a dense understory of saw palmetto, some of which are rather old and stand tall like cabbage palms.
Spanish moss drapes thickly from the oaks above. Emerge into a clearing with pines up ahead to see the first interpretive sign, on the ecotone between oak hammock and pine flatwoods.
The open area behind the pines is the pond. A double blaze on an old snag guides you right or left at the start of the loop.
Turn right to follow the worn path through the pine needles. Some of the campsites are visible through the screen of forest to the east.
An interpretive sign calls your attention to clues of the history of the turpentine industry in this pine forest.
The pond is at the interior of the loop. It is especially obvious where the understory is clear around an ancient live oak covered in resurrection fern.
Once crowded in on both sides of saw palmetto, the trail is especially obvious through the forest.
It loops around the pond and returns to the clearing with the first sign. Turn right to exit.
Learn more about Lake Kissimmee State Park and its trails
Discover the beauty of the land between the lakes east of Lake Wales while exploring the vast prairies and fern-laden hammocks of Lake Kissimmee State Park
From its showy start with a climb up an observation tower to its breezy loop along Lake Kissimmee, the Gobbler Ridge Trail offers scenic views all along its length
Crossing the Lake Kissimmee State Park park drive multiple times, the 6.8-mile North Loop is the easiest trail to access within the park, offering excellent birding
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
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.
Atop the Lake Wales Ridge, the nature trails at the Ridge Audubon Center in Babson Park do a fabulous job of interpreting the unique flora and fauna of this island of biodiversity.
With up to 6.2 miles of trails – many of them a bit wet – SUMICA is one of the natural lands in Polk County where birding is especially superb.