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The Chain of Lakes Trail stretches for more than 3 miles along a former railroad bed from downtown Winter Haven north to Lake Alfred in central Florida. As its name implies, you'll pass numerous lakes along the way, as well as parks, neighborhoods and businesses.
After the first mile (from the trail's southern endpoint), you'll approach busy Avenue T. To reach the northern section of the trail, turn left (west) at the roadway and travel on the sidewalk to the pedestrian crossing just past Inman Park (at the U.S. Highway 17 intersection). Once across, travel back east along the Avenue T sidewalk to the trail.
The pathway continues north another two miles to U.S. Highway 17/92. There is a new bike/pedestrian bridge over US 17/92 and the trail now continues another mile into Lake Alfred.
Parking is available at the southern end of the trail in Winter Haven at the Chain of Lakes Downtown Trailhead Park (611 Third Street, NW) and at Inman Park (8th Street NW).
Being that this trail was described as connecting 2 lakes, I assumed it would have some scenery. Wrong! If you are merely looking for a paved trail, this is for you. The nicest thing to see along the way was a cemetery. Otherwise, it was abandoned warehouses, discarded junk and used tires. There are several stop signs at the start of the trail. If I were riding with young children, that would be a concern. The bridge over ave T was great. There was a nice park/playground with restrooms at the trailhead. The trail could use some additional signs at the start.
Remote and no users passing through scary areas. Would not want to travel without protection. New proposed trail extentions are being pushed alongside dangerous roads. This trail is more of a monument to Winter Haven's leaders, than a safe usable trail to take your family. Not every trail should be built just to spend DOT money. Many better sites for a trail could have been funded instead of this one.
Drove by the new bridge going over Ave T. The bridge had a sign stating an open date of April 23rd.
We found some new and welcome changes, not the least of which is the almost completed fly-over for bikes and pedestrians at Avenue T. Our risky game of “Human Frogger” will soon be but a fond memory.
The other, bigger deal is the new trail extension in Lake Alfred. The brand new, paved trail runs from W. Pearce St. (one block west of the L.A. Diner) all the way to the old trail head at HWY 555 and 17-92. This extension provides us with a twelve-mile+/- round trip, and is much safer than riding the sidewalks in Lake Alfred. Plus, we still get to play “Human Frogger” when we cross 17-92!
If you have been off your bike for a while, this is a great trail to ease back into riding. With Richards’ Coffee Shop at the Winter Haven terminus, and the L.A. Diner at the Lake Alfred Trail head, there is no reason not to try it out.
Plus, the City of Winter Haven is changing out the Art in the Park, so we will have new sculptures to appreciate.
We have ridden this trail for more than four years. Although we often come upon local 'characters', we have never been bothered, accosted or felt any fear riding this trail. Nor have we ever read of any problems others may have had, other than their own personal fears. Having spent the first half of my life riding in and around the city of Detroit, I feel very safe riding the Chain of Lakes Trail. It's all about your personal perception of the world around you. Enjoy this beautiful trail, and don't waste your time worrying about things that are unlikely to happen.
This is the time of year we really enjoy biking. The Chain of Lakes Trail is great and getting better.
We will, in a short few months, be able to go over Ave. T, as the City is constructing a bridge for bikers and walkers. This, in my opinion, is our tax dollars being spent in the right way!
Please don't let negative reviews keep you from checking out this short but awesome trail. It's a real treat!
David and Carma
Why would the county invest so much money into a bike/walking trail that is not safe for people to go on?!?! It would have been better use if it had been built on the S.E. side of Winter Haven. Even having my 6'4" hubby with me I didn't feel safe!! Advise, bring some sort of protection!!!!!!!
The first part of the trail runs parallel to MLK blvd., so it doesn't quite feel like a nature trail per se. Crossing Ave. T was fine. I would recommend just waiting until traffic dies down as the proper crosswalks would take you out of your way. After ave. T the trail becomes more rural and is quite nicely shaded. Very nice trail for running.
We treated ourselves to early Christmas presents, new bikes. This was a great ride. We were a little apprehensive after reading some of the other reviews but, at the end of the ride we had no regrets. Ave T was the biggest obstacle but, by taking our time we crossed with no problems.
We will definitely go back as this is our home trail.
I only rode the part north of Ave T and saw the nice bridge followed by the hood. Bum walking around the area. I took no chances with this one.
Nice ride once you get across Avenue "T". The city of Winter Haven says an overpass for the trail will be built at a future date. The trail head or beginning of the trail is downtown then crosses several streets before approaching avenue "T". Once you are north of "T", the trail passes by a cemetery, an old fruit packing house and an area known as Lake Ida. Heads up from that point on, this area should be patrolled as it feels unsafe. The trail crosses a nice bridge over a canal and terminates at Highway 92 in Lake Alfred.
Pleasant urban trail that goes from downtown Winter Haven to Lake Alfred. In Lake Alfred it joins with a sidewalk/path that goes a bit further. We haven't done any of that part so I cannot comment on it.
This trail has several street crossings before it goes into a semi-rural setting for the last half of the trail. A picnic area in Winter Haven about a mile into the trail is frequented by some folks you would not invite home to dinner. It is on Silver Lake across from the Winter Haven PD.
I would rate this as a good trail for beginners or bicyclist that haven't developed the stamina for a long ride, but crossing Avenue T requires a detour of about two blocks up, wait for a traffic signal, then two blocks back to continue the ride. OR...one can simply take one's chances with waiting for a break in. Traffic to continue the ride. Plans are in the works for a bridge to go over Avenue T, but it would require either a steep incline or switchbacks to make it more amenable to biking.
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