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Reported: February 2020

Florida Eco-biking... Circle B Bar Reserve

Located on the northwest shore of Lake Hancock, Circle B Bar Reserve is a former cattle ranch. Purchased by Polk County and SW FL Water Management District, the 1,200 acre reserve has been restored to its natural wetland habitat with up to 7 miles of eco-biking available. These are shared trails - it's a popular destination for wildlife viewing (a designated Great Florida Birding Trail site) and there are many people on the trails walking and taking photos, so keep aware and observe proper etiquette. There are so many views you may find yourself stopping often anyway, as did we. Benches and wildlife viewing spots are provided. This also is home of the Polk County Nature Discovery Center. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Circle B Bar Reserve

Bike Map...
Circle B Bar Reserve Eco-Biking


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Location: Polk County (Lakeland)
Mileage: About 7 miles
Surface: Packed dirt, sand, grass
Nearby Points of interest: Polk Nature Discovery Center

CIRCLE B BAR RESERVE... Comments and Photos

We biked the Reserve in two sections:

  1. We rode from the Polk County Nature Discovery Center around the Lake Trail (Alligator Alley) at Lake Hancock.
  2. We rode the spur off Fort Fraser Trail east to Wading Bird Way, then north across the levee to Marsh Rabbit Road.

Excellent signage makes it easy to get around (and back!). The dirt trails are mostly hard-packed and easy to ride. Note: After storms, the trails can be under water.


Polk County Nature Center and Lake Trail

Polk County Nature Center

From Winter Lake Road (SR 540), take Discovery Drive to the Polk County Nature Center where you'll find parking, restrooms, picnic facilities, and educational exhibits. Several hiking and biking trails start here.


Lake Trail - 2.5 miles

We rode the Shady Oak trail and followed the signs to "Lake Trek." Now called Alligator Alley, the first half mile is through oak hammock and then we came out to Lake Hancock and put on the brakes. Go out onto the viewing platform for views of the pristine, cypress-lined lake. The trail runs between the lake and wetlands, both sides are scenic and full of birds. After about .7 mile, it then turns westbound along a canal. Another sign at a crossroad offered several routes back to the Nature Center, we chose Heron Hideout and returned to the parking area.


Fort Fraser Trail to Marsh Rabbit Road - 2 miles

From the Fort Fraser Trail, we rode the spur to Circle B Bar Reserve. The first half mile is paved, then onto hard-packed dirt and gravel in the reserve. Another half mile comes to a fork, Eagle Roost to the east or Wading Bird Way to the north. We chose Wading BIrd Way in order to ride the levee over the wetlands, ending at Marsh Rabbit Run. So scenic!


Wildlife

More birds than we could count. Wildlife at the Reserve includes many varieties of birds, alligators, bobcats, otters, armadillo, and butterflies. There's a sign that says wildlife have right-of-way on the trail - we experienced that when a white heron decided to take a stroll in front of us! Lake Hancock is said to have one of the densest populations of alligators in the state, we saw a couple though not on the lake but in the marsh. We also saw an armadillo, but missed the photo.

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