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Note: Per a Florida Department of Transportation press release, "The Fort Fraser Trail will be closed at the Banana Creek Bridge from April through fall 2016 due to construction. The remainder of the trail including the Fort Fraser Connector Trail will remain open."
The paved Fort Fraser Trail traverses part of the former CSX Railroad line, running parallel to US Highway 98 for nearly 8 miles, from Bartow to near Crystal Lake, Florida.
Although the trail is named for the 1837 fort, built during the Second Seminole War, which in turn was named for Captain Upton S. Fraser, who was killed in the first battle of the war two years earlier. In November of 1837, Colonel Zachary Taylor (later our 12th president) arrived with Company B & E of the 1st U.S. Infantry. With them they brought 80 wagons of supplies to construct a new military road from Fort Brooke in Tampa to the Kissimmee River. Fort Fraser didn't last long; it was decommissioned six months later. Today, a historical marker notes the spot where the fort once stood, just south of CR 540A.
The trail includes picnic and rest shelters; also, look for some of the 33 different species of butterfly that flit among the native plantings, including the lovely zebra swallowtail.
From I-4 in Lakeland, east or west, take the Polk Parkway (Toll Road 570) and exit at US 98 south, Exit 10. Head south to the PCC/USF entrance and follow the signs for the Fort Fraser Trail parking, behind the sheriff's substation.
The Highland City trailhead is due south of PCC/USF Campus trailhead and includes restrooms and other amenities. Head south on US 98/SR 700/Bartow Rd/CR 540A to Highland City. Turn left on Central Ave., right on 4th St SE; parking is on the right.
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