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Latest update: January 2020

Fort Fraser Trail... Central Florida

7.9 Mile Bike Trail, Bartow to Lakeland

Named for Fort Fraser built in 1837 during the Second Seminole War, the trail follows an old CSX rail bed between Bartow and Lakeland in Polk County, Florida. The 12-foot trail is well maintained, almost totally straight with just a slight rise - easy to ride. Although running parallel to US 98, there's a wide buffer and portions run through natural areas with some shade (depending on time of day). It crosses a few roads and driveways, so keep aware. Picnic and rest shelters are located along the way. Three trestle bridges, historic and informational markers (one near the location of the old fort), and road crossing signs shaped like railroad crossing signs are a nice touch. The inspirational quotes on signs along the way are a unique and fun feature. (Map link and photos below.)

Fort Fraser Trail

Map link - Fort Fraser Trail

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Location: Polk County
End Points: Bartow to Lakeland, Florida
Mileage: 7.9 miles
Surface: Asphalt, 12'
Nearby Points of Interest: Circle B Bar Reserve, Polk Nature Discovery Center

Bike Shops/Rentals:
Trek Bicycle - Lakeland (sales service)

Support and Advocacy:
Polk County Friends of the Parks Foundation

 Page Summary:

  1. Biking on Fort Fraser Trail
    - Bartow Trailhead to Highland City Trailhead
    - Highland City Trailhead to Circle B Bar Reserve
    - Circle B Bar Reserve to PSC Trailhead and Trail End
  2. More Information and Resources

Biking on Fort Fraser Trail

Bartow Trailhead to Highland City Trailhead - 5.1 miles

The trail starts at the junction of SR 60 (E. Van Fleet Dr.) and US 98 (N. Broadway Ave.) in Bartow and runs 4/10 mile along SR 60 to the turn-off northbound. Here it crosses a covered trestle bridge and then just past the bridge is a spur to the left that goes to the Bartow Trailhead on N. Wilson Ave. (next to Tractor Supply Co.). The trailhead is parking only. Continuing north, the trail goes through a natural area and over another trestle bridge. It crosses Old Bartow Eagle Lake Rd. and then meets US 98 at Lyle Pkwy. From here, it runs between US 98 and a natural area abutting Lake Hancock to Highland City. About a half mile past Ernest Smith Blvd, a power line meets the trail and the trail then follows the power line with little shade. There's still a wide buffer off the road until Hancock Ave., where it runs roadside approaching the Highland City trailhead.

SR 60/Bartow Trailhead to US 98

The trail is away from US 98, but gets closer after passing Bartow Regional Medical Center.

US 98 to Highland City Trailhead

The trail is closer to US 98 but still a wide buffer until just before the Highland City trailhead.

Highland City Trailhead to Circle B Bar Reserve - 1.6 miles

The main trailhead is in Highland City on 4th St. East. The trail runs into the trailhead, but if driving there's no direct access off US 98 - turn on Central Avenue and go one block to 4th St. East. The trailhead has parking, restrooms, and picnic facilities. Continuing northbound, the trail is roadside but soon is buffered and passes through a pleasant wooded area.

Halfway between Highland City and PSC trailheads (just north of Oak Hill Cemetery, mile 6.9), a 1/2 mile paved connector trail leads to the Circle B Bar Reserve on Lake Hancock. Formerly a cattle ranch, it's been restored to its natural wetland habitat with up to 7 miles of eco-biking available. View the eco-trails, map, and photos

Circle B Bar Reserve to PSC Trailhead and Trail End - 1.2 miles

Just past the spur is a covered trestle bridge at Banana Creek. The north trailhead is in Lakeland at Polk State College (PSC) behind the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Parking and a picnic pavilion but no other amenities. There's a direct access to the trailhead from the trail, but if driving enter through the PSC main entrance and drive past the sheriff's office to the trailhead.

The trail ends just north of PSC, at Winter Lake Road (SR 540) - plans are to eventually extend it north into Lakeland.

More Information and Resources

Nearby Biking:

Auburndale-TECO Trail
Chain of Lakes Trail
Circle B Bar Reserve (eco-biking)
Van Fleet State Trail (a FL Top 10)
Central FL Region - More trails plus Regional Overview map

Check out our affiliate website BikeOrlando.net , with even more bike trails in the Disney, Orlando area.

Related Resources:

Bartow Chamber of Commerce - Fort Fraser Trail
Polk County Friends of the Parks Foundation - Fort Fraser Trail Fact Sheet (pdf)

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