Chain of Lakes Trail


18 Reviews

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Chain of Lakes Trail Facts

States: Florida
Counties: Polk
Length: 4.7 miles
Trail end points: W Haines Blvd/Shinn Blvd (Lake Alfred) and Avenue A NW (Winter Haven)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6978705

Chain of Lakes Trail Description

The Chain of Lakes Trail stretches nearly 5 miles along a former railroad bed from downtown Winter Haven to north of 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. Use the bike/pedestrian bridge to get across. 

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 and Trail Access

Polk County's public transit system, Citrus Connection, provides access to the trail. Visit the Citrus Connection website to plan your trip and refer to the TrailLink map to find the most convenient transit stop.

For those driving, parking is available at a number of locations along the trail. Visit the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions. Parking locations include the southern end of the trail at the Chain of Lakes Downtown Trailhead Park (715 3rd St NW, Winter Haven) with a second parking lot by the park's playground (684 4th St NW). There are linear parking lots running along 5th St NW and 4th St NW between Ave E NW and Central Park (1-35 4th St NW). 

Chain of Lakes Trail Reviews

for a local trail, it’s ok

If you live in Polk Co and just want to ride without fear of getting hit by a car, then ok….although there are several areas where you have to cross streets and some of them being a little busy and questionable. We started at the south trailhead and once you get passed the homeless camps and run down industrial area, it’s a little better. I didn’t feel safe even though my husband was with me. I would never ride this trail alone. The bridges over the roadways are very steep and if you’re from Florida you might not be used to this kind of elevation. Glad it’s checked off our list but we won’t be back.

If you like...

Depressed area, abandon industrial complex, water treatment plants, Grave yards this is for you. Only for people that live there.

locals only !

We have ridden most of the trails in central florida, most are beautiful, this one not so much. No shade and not much to see.

Basic Trail

The paved trail is pretty flat with the exception of some bridges across busy streets. From the parking lot at the Chamber of Commerce on the Winter Haven side to the end of the trail at W. Haines Blvd in Lake Alfred is 5.1m out and 5.1 miles back. It's pretty basic, but I would like to add some suggestions to make the ride slightly more enjoyable.

1) Try and time your ride for the third Saturday of the month. There is a free water ski show on Lake Silver. The show time changes so check the website for the Cypress Gardens Ski team. I suggest that you do your ride first and hit the show on the way back into Winter Haven as the bike path goes right past the lake.

2) Instead of just dead heading out to where the trail ends in Lake Alfred, take a little detour off the path to the Mackay Gardens and Lakeside Preserve. The preserve is a better destination than just the abrupt end of the trail in downtown Lake Alfred. It's about a mile east of the trail.

3) There's not a lot of shade on the trail so stay hydrated and bring sunscreen. There is a "splash pad park" along the trail in downtown Winter Haven where you can cool off under the misters so DEFINITELY bring a change of clothes.

4) Enjoy Winter Haven at the end of your ride. Again, bring a change of clothes...and explore the downtown area. There are public restrooms for changing near the splash park for changing. They have nice restaurants, coffee shops, a brewery, antique shops for browsing, and live music on Saturdays (once Covid subsides) - It's a cool little area to walk around after your ride.

I think it's a great way to kill a Saturday afternoon if you're looking for a leisurely ride. A good portion of the trail is through industrial areas, which is to be expected as this was an old train track bed, but if you're looking for a nice 10 or so mile easy trail, this is a good option.


Nice trail

A good walking trail

such a good ride

the view was far better then what i expected we parked at Cypress Point Park ended up being 11.02 from there but it also connects to other trails as well. its a must

Don't waste your time

Too short. Too ugly. Too bad, it could be better if it connected to something else.

No View Here

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.

Welcome to the Hood

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.

Ave T Bridge

Drove by the new bridge going over Ave T. The bridge had a sign stating an open date of April 23rd.

It Just Keeps Getting Better!

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.

Great ride

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!!!!!!!

Nice Urban Trail

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.

1st Trail ride.

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 took my .38

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.

Needs improvement

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.

Nice short ride- EXCEPT for crossing Ave. T

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. 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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