7 Completely Free Activities at General James Van Fleet Trail

One of Florida most Rural, yet paved Rail Trail

8 a.m. till sunset
Free
7683 Berkley Road Polk City FL 33968
352-394-3969

Regional and rural paved rail-trail: part of Florida’s statewide system of greenways and trails, perfect those looking for things to do in Orlando.

The General James A. Van Fleet State Trail has many distinctions. It is part of the statewide system of greenways and trails in the state of Florida, while it also has the honor of being designated as a National Recreation Trail®.

If you know your Green Swamp, you recognize the names of Florida’s most frequented paddling places including the Withlacoochee, Hillsborough and Peace rivers. The glorious area consists of the main river swamp, scenic pine flatwoods, working cattle ranges, a bottomland forest, and once-fruitful citrus lands.

The paved 9-foot wide trail welcomes all levels of hikers along its 29.2 miles (with only one curve). You can amble along or move briskly as you wish, while stopping to enjoy the scenery and wildlife, especially between Bay Lake and Green Pond Roads. Equestrians have their own parallel trail.

There are restricted hunting areas on the northwest side of the trail in the Green Swamp and Richloam regions. In fact, there is a designated hunting season.

Experiences

Bicycling

Biking is top on the list of most outdoor adventurers. In that the trail is paved, it is the perfect bicycling venue. Cyclers love traversing scenic areas at their own speed. Flora and fauna abound and beg for video photographers to capture their splendor.  With water bottle in hand, you are ready for a long day of fun and visual treats. You can refill at the Polk City, Marble trail, and Green Pond heads. Don’t forget your trusty helmet and the state law is clear on its usage for those sixteen and under. If you need a bike to rent, check out our Land Rentals page.

Picnicking

Picnicking is a must along the General James A. Van Fleet Trail almost all year round. Each trail head features a covered pavilion with tables and sporadic benches, making them perfect for that lengthy mean or quick snack.

Roller Blading or Walking

There are several ways to get around other than bicycling. You can roller blade easily on the straight paved trail (be sure to don your knee and elbow pads and helmet) or just walk at your own pace. Jog if you wish or call it a hike, as long as you look around and enjoy the vistas. You have over twenty-nine miles to explore. Visitors relish special finds that are a bit remote and off the beaten track. Drinking water, sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent advised! Protect your feet with appropriate walking shoes. Be sure to survey the trail in advance and plan your journey. You can arrange to be picked up in several locations for a shorter experience.

Wildlife Viewing

Be attentive to the Green Swamp and its surroundings as it is rich in wildlife. Get your camera ready. You may spot an alligator or racoon, an opossum or white-tailed deer. Snakes and turtles are often encountered as well. Birdwatchers relish the many varieties from osprey and American bald eagle to the barred owl. Observe the rules to protect the animals and do not feed any of them.

Amenities

Wheelchair Access

Amenities are plentiful, including wheelchair access the entire length of the trail. The wide paved surface is conducive to the use of any power-driven mobility device, and a walker or cane. This is a major plus for visitors of all ages. The park has approved these aids in most foot traffic areas. For questions and concerns, call the park manager at (352) 394-3969.

Parking

The four railheads have designated public parking.

Polk City Trailhead
7683 Berkley Road, Polk City, FL 33968
GPS Coordinates N28⁰ 10.867 W081⁰49.662

Green Pond Trailhead
4903 Green Pond Road, Polk City, FL 33868
GPS Coordinates N28⁰ 19.131 W081⁰51.737

Bay Lake Trailhead
7500 Bay Lake Road, Groveland, FL 34736
GPS Coordinates N28⁰ 27.328 W081⁰55.347

Mabel Trailhead
7981 CR 772 Webster, FL 35597
GPS Coordinates N28⁰ 34.711 W081⁰58.597

 

Equestrian Trail

Equestrians have their own designated trail. Horseback riding is always welcome if it is confined to the shoulders alongside the paved main trail. It is a five-foot mowed area on both sides. You may be asked to show certification of a negative Coggins viral test for your animal.

Picnic Pavilion

Picnic pavilions are the hallmark of each of the four trailheads and the Mile Marker 25 North. You can enjoy covered tables and a nearby grill while resting from your journey. Stay as long as you like and enjoy the environs.

Restroom Facilities

No need to worry about restrooms. They are located conveniently at the Green Pond, Bay Lake and Mabel trail heads, plus another at the half mile point north of the Polk City trailhead.

Pets

If you can’t survive without your dog, you can bring the pet to the trail with you. Just keep him or her under control on a leash (no longer than six feet in length). Look after their waste and dispose of all droppings in designated receptacles. Water is available at special dog-friendly fountains at two of the trail heads: Green Pond and Polk City. Plan your stop in advance.