The site of an open-pit phosphate mine until the early 1980s, this reclamation project borders the Peace River floodplain, where the boardwalk winds through the floodplain forest out to the river. Interpretive signs give background information on the 1,800-square-mile Peace River basin.
BOARDWALK CLOSURE: According to Polk County, “The Boardwalk will be closed through 2018 due to damage caused by Hurricane Irma. The remainder of the park is open from Dawn to Dusk.
Location: Fort Meade
Length: 0.5 mile
Lat-Long: 27.821817, -81.804433
Fees / Permits: none
Bug factor: low to moderate
The park is open 7 AM to dusk. Park at the pulloff for the boardwalk (if there’s room) or continue to the parking area at the top of the hill. There is a restroom at the parking area.
From US 17 south of Lakeland, take CR 640 east, following Great Florida Birding Trail signs for a mile to park entrance on left before the bridge over the Peace River.
The forest becomes denser as you draw closer to the river, and water marks on the trees show how deeply this floodplain can flood. After 0.25 mile, the boardwalk ends at a peaceful spot under the cypresses on the Peace River, where you can rest and watch for birds before heading back along the winding wooden walkway.
This park is south of Kissingen Spring, once one of Florida’s major springs and swimming holes pumping more than 20 million gallons a day. It stopped flowing in 1950 as the flow of the Peace River dropped precipitously with the increase of phosphate mining in the area. The spring is commemorated with a historic marker at this park.