General James A. Van Fleet State Trail
|General James A. Van Fleet State Trail|
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Mabel Trailhead's picnic shelter, a.k.a. Mabel Station.
|Location||Lake, Polk and Sumter counties, United States|
|Nearest city||Lakeland, Florida|
|Area||29.2-mile (47.0 km) length|
|Governing body||Florida Department of Environmental Protection|
It is protected as a Florida State Park and occupies a 29.2-mile (47.0 km) abandoned portion of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad's Florida Western and Northern corridor through Central Florida's Green Swamp area. It extends from Polk City in the south to Mabel in the north.
The entire 29.2-mile (47.0 km) length of the trail is paved approximately 12-foot (3.7 m) wide and is mostly straight, containing only one slight curve toward the southern end of the trail just north of the Polk City trailhead.
Among the wildlife that can be seen along the trail are egrets, herons and various raptors. Also sighted are white-tailed deer, Florida gopher tortoises, American alligators, raccoons and nine-banded armadillos.
Hours and fees
Florida state parks are open between 8 a.m. and sundown every day of the year (including holidays). There is no admission necessary to use the park.
The trail has four trailheads with parking areas specifically for the trail, each spaced approximately 9.6 miles (15.4 km) apart. These are located in Polk City at the intersection of State Road 33 and County Road 665; Green Pond, FL at the intersection of Green Pond Road and the trail itself; Bay Lake at the intersection of Bay Lake Road (County Road 565) and the trail itself; and finally in Mabel where the trail intersects with State Road 50. The right of way for the former railroad line continues north on its way to Coleman. This line carried the Silver Meteor between Coleman and Auburndale until 1988, and had a bridge under SR 50 until the early-2010s.
Amenities include a picnic pavilion, several picnic tables, restrooms, and drinking fountains.
Parking, restrooms, and drinking fountains are available at all four trailheads.
Media related to General James A. Van Fleet State Trail at Wikimedia Commons