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.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Fort Meade
Length: 0.5 mile round-trip (boardwalk)
Trailhead: 27.821817, -81.804433
Address: 2200 CR 640 (Homeland-Garfield Road), Bartow
Land Manager: Polk County
The park is open dawn to dusk. Park at the pull off 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 a quarter 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.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Along a quiet shoreline of the Peace River, an interpretive visitor center, the remains of a Seminole War era fortress, and a memorial are important components of Paynes Creek Historic State Park, which memorializes the flashpoint of the Third Seminole War.
Paralleling US 98 between Bartow and Lakeland, the Fort Fraser Trail is along an urban greenway with connectivity to Circle B Bar Reserve
On more than 3 miles of trails, Lakeland Highlands Scrub offers a close-up look at the Lakeland Ridge, an ancient island when Florida was beneath the seas: parts of this 551-acre preserve are at 230 feet elevation.