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Latest update: Dec. 2016

Top 10... Van Fleet State Trail

The General James A. Van Fleet State Trail is a totally rural, 29 mile trail with one curve and no hills. The rail-trail runs on an old Seaboard Air Line Railroad right-of-way through the Green Swamp, the headwaters of the Withlacoochee, Ocklawaha, Hillsborough and Peace Rivers and an important contributor to Florida's aquifer. The four trailheads - at Polk City, Green Pond, Bay Lake and Mabel - are spaced almost evenly apart (9-10 miles), with parking and restrooms but no other facilities so be sure to bring plenty of liquids and food. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Van Fleet Trail

End Points: Polk City to Mabel
Mileage: 29 miles
Surface: Asphalt, 12'
Location: Polk, Lake, Sumter Counties
Trailheads: Polk City, Green Pond Road, Bay Lake Road, and SR 50 at Mabel (each about 10 miles apart). (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Fantasy of Flight, Withlacoochee State Forest

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Florida State Parks - Van Fleet State Trail


This is one of the most rural trails in Florida, isolated and quiet. Some won't like it because there's nothing here but forest, pasture, and swamp. Yet for a relaxing nature ride, there's no other trail like it in Florida. Wildlife include alligators, gopher tortoises ("gophers"), bobcats, deer, raccoons, and armadillos. Note: this is a remote area and there have been some reports of car break-ins, be sure to lock your vehicle and report suspicious activity to 911.

Polk City Trailhead (south)

Parking, picnic, restrooms, water. Connects at the south to Auburndale-TECO Trail.

Polk City Trailhead to Green Pond (10 miles)

This 10 mile section is mostly tree-lined, offering plenty of shade during the mornings and afternoons/evenings.

Polk City Trailhead to The Curve

Riding 5 miles north of Polk City takes you to the ONLY bend in the trail. Watch a video of biking at the curve on our Facebook page.

The Curve to Green Pond

The trail crosses Deen Still Rd. - the busiest intersection along the trail - and continues to the tiny hamlet of Poyner (1 mile south of Green Pond).

Green Pond Trailhead

We like to park at the Green Pond Trailhead (MM10) at about the middle of the trail. Here are parking, picnic pavilion, restrooms, water. A citizens patrol station is also located here.

Green Pond Trailhead to Bay Lake  (10 miles)

This section runs through the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve, a protected area important to preserving the Florida aquifer. At around the 12 mile marker, the trail enters the Withlacoochee River watershed and you can feel the temperatures drop. Within this section you cross three bridges (a favorite section of the trail), spanning the start of the Withlacoochee River. Check for alligators at The Bridges and at the Wildlife Viewing Area.

Green Pond Trailhead to The Bridges

The Bridges to Bay Lake Trailhead

Bay Lake to Mabel

A 9-mile section entirely within and forming the boundary of the Withlacoochee State Forest. Tree-lined, this is the shadiest section of trail, especially in the late afternoon. Bay Lake Trailhead has parking, picnic, restrooms, water.

Bay Lake Trailhead

Bay Lake to Mabel Trailhead (9 miles)

Mabel Trailhead

Northern trailhead, just off SR 50. Parking, picnic, restrooms, water.

Wildlife on the Van Fleet State Trail

Gators and snakes and turtles (and more)

The best wildlife viewing is between Green Pond and Bay Lake, at the Wildlife Viewing Area and The Bridges

Babies of the Van Fleet State Trail

Maybe it was the springtime, we were struck by the large number of baby animals along the trail one day

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