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Hiking guide for Lakeland

Check out these 13 hiking trails catered to all skill levels in and around Lakeland, Florida for outdoor adventures.

Tall trees sprout out of the dry Florida landscape.

Watch the sun set over Lake John on the Peterson Park walking trail.

Photo by @matthewcummiskey

Table of Contents

From quick and easy loops around town to drives that take you to fantastic lakes and marshes, our county has so many options to hit the trail. So lace up your hiking boots, because we’ve compiled a hiking guide for the Lakeland area with 13 routes and trails to help you plan your next adventure.

Note: While parks and trails may be listed as open, we recommend checking park websites before visiting for further info, current trail conditions, and the safest practices for the area.

Key: Easy = 🥾 | Moderate = 🥾🥾 | Hard = 🥾🥾🥾

Lakeland

A shaded, grassy hiking path winds through tall trees.

A good hike becomes a great hike when the path is shady.

Gator Creek Reserve, 9725 US Hwy. 98 N., Lakeland

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 7 combined miles — looped trails range from .23 miles-2.9 miles.
  • Wheelchair accessible: Portions
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, leash required

With five walking trails and one equestrian trail, this reserve offers paths for everyone. The elevation change is 22 ft and one of the paths is paved, making this a great option for the whole family.

A brown and white owl looks to the right.

Hoo’s ready to see the wildlife at Circle B Bar Reserve?

Circle B Bar Reserve, 4399 Winter Lake Rd., Lakeland

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 5 combined miles
  • Wheelchair accessible: Portions
  • Pet-friendly: No

Take your time on these trails — spot sunbathing gators in Alligator Alley, watch for wildlife on Wading Bird Way, and practice your photography skills along the way or simply take in the fresh air.

Colt Creek State Park, 16000 SR 471, Lakeland

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 15+ combined miles
  • Wheelchair accessible: Portions
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, leash required

This grassy, padded hike boasts cool breeze and shade if you catch it at the right time. The land was once home to rock mining, timber harvesting, citrus production, and even turpentining.

The sun is setting over treetops in the distance

You can’t go wrong with a sunset hike.

Se7en Wetlands, 500 W. Carter Rd., Lakeland

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 3 miles per loop
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes
  • Pet-friendly: No

This water treatment area-turned-nature park is a must-see for locals. Wear proper shoes and bring enough water to stay hydrated — but leave your furry friends at home.

Lakeland Highlands Scrub, 6998 Lakeland Highlands Rd., Lakeland

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 2.8 miles in three loops
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, leash required

Experience various terrains like sandy soils, grassy trails, marshland, swamps, and open dry prairies. This quiet oasis on the edge of the suburbs is perfect for everything from a quick hike to a longer excursion; trails range from an average of 30 minutes to two hours.

Lake Wales

A man and woman running on a trail

Stretch your legs in the great outdoors.

Photo by @justrunfuller

Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, 851 County Rd. 630 E., Frostproof

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾🥾
  • Length: 25 combined miles, including the Arbuckle Trail
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes — see details
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, leash required

The Lake Wales forest contains the highest concentration of endangered plants in the continental US, so bring your cameras and don’t forget the pack in, pack out rule — aka take your trash with you.

The sun is rising over a hazy horizon.

Watch the sun rise and set at your favorite Florida trail.

Photo by @slowride13

SUMICA, 14020 FL 60, Lake Wales

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 6.2 combined miles
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, leash required

Named after The Societe Universelle Mining Industrie Commerce et Agriculture (who owned timber rights to the land), the lumber town of SUMICA was established in 1917. The town vanished in 1927, leaving a ghost town and the largest of Polk County’s environmental lands, perfect for exploring on your next hike.

Lake Kissimmee State Park, 14248 Camp Mack Rd., Lake Wales

Home to Florida’s third largest lake, this state park has excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, nature trails for hiking, biking, and horseback, and a genuine 1876 “Cow Camp.” Note: Pets are not allowed in the Cow Camp area.

Greater Polk area

Views of an expansive lake peek through the marshy trees.

Soak in views of Lake Hancock through the marshy trees on this trail.

Marshall Hampton Reserve, 3115 Thornhill Rd., Winter Haven

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 7+ combined miles
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Pet-friendly: Yes, leash required

Nestled right across the way from Circle B, this reserve provides a trail for everyone. For a shaded trail, check out the Acorn Hammock Loop; the Osprey Overlook Loop Trail is not shaded.

Crooked Lake Prairie, 985 Ohlinger Rd., Babson Park

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 2 combined miles
  • Wheelchair accessible: Portions
  • Pet-friendly: Leashed pets are allowed, but keep an eye out for spiny plants that may poke your pup’s soft paws.

Walk under a canopy of oak hammocks draped in Spanish moss to find the unique place where scrub and prairie meet. Pro tip: These trails are pretty open, so make sure to use plenty of sunscreen.

Hickory Lake Scrub, 1658 S. Scenic Hwy., Frostproof

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 0.4 miles
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Pet-friendly: Leashed pets are allowed, but be advised there are many thorny plants and cacti.

Watch your step in the deep white sugar sand and explore rare plants along the trail, which loops down to the edge of Hickory Lake.

Peace River Hammock, Mt. Pisgah Road, Fort Meade

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 1.5 miles
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Pet-friendly: No

The breezy, shaded path attracts a variety of colorful butterflies and birds. The reward for completing this trail is reaching the bank of the Peace River.

Sherwood Stokes Preserve, 7598 Lake Marion Creek Rd., Haines City

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 1 mile out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Pet-friendly: No

With 70+ species of birds, this is an avian aficionado’s paradise. You’ll be in a nest with tall cabbage palms that reach the sky, enjoying top-notch views of Lake Marion Creek.

Get the right gear

Get the most out of your trip with comfortable, handy, and helpful hiking gear:

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