The James A. Van Fleet State Trail runs 29 miles through some of Florida's most scenic rural landscape. If you are looking to immerse yourself in wetlands and wildlife, it will not disappoint; at least one-third of the trail crosses central Florida's 322,690-acre Green Swamp.
The trail stretches from Polk City north to the town of Mabel on State Route 50. The Polk City trailhead offers ample parking, picnic and restroom facilities, plus an expansive field of clipped grass, perfect for a game of pickup soccer. From the Polk City end you can also head south to Auburndale along the Auburndale TECO Trail
The flat and arrow-straight route, with one slight curve around Mile Marker 5, have made it a favorite among time-trial bicyclists, though thanks to its remote setting, you'll likely encounter only the occasional speedster.
The Green Pond Road trailhead, near Mile Marker 10, marks the boundary of the Green Swamp, one of Florida's protected wetland and wildlife areas. From here on watch for feral pigs, armadillos, buzzards, tortoises and possibly an alligator or two basking on the trail's warm asphalt surface.
While the Bay Lake trailhead signals the end of the protected reserve, the final 10 miles of the to the Mabel trailhead are every bit as scenic. The decision is yours whether to race back to Polk City or savor the return trip along this beautiful, serene trail.
To reach the Polk City trailhead from Lakeland, take I-4 east to Exit 38/Polk City, and follow Route 33 north to Polk City. The trailhead is at the intersection of Route 33 and Route 655/Berkley Road.
To reach the Green Pond Road trailhead from Clermont, take Route 50 west to Route 33 south. Follow Route 33 about 16 miles to Green Pond Road, turn right and continue to the trailhead.
To reach the Mabel trailhead from Clermont, take Route 50 west; the trailhead is at the intersection of Route 50 and CR 772, on the left about 5 miles west of the Route 50/Bay Lake Road intersection in Mascotte.
General James A. Van Fleet State Trail
7305 US Highway 27
Clermont, FL 34711