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.
With an array of parks and natural lands and a growing system of bike trails, Lakeland is a hub for recreation along the Lake Wales Ridge and into the Green Swamp.
An easy loop at Alderman’s Ford Park, the Nature Trail slips behind the nature center for a walk in under ancient trees along the river’s floodplain corridor
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
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.
The 6.9-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
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.
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.
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.
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
In Central Florida, the Florida Trail presents two options: east or west around the Orlando metro. Forested public lands provide protection for much of the route.