General James A. Van Fleet State Trail

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General James A. Van Fleet State Trail
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Van Fleet Trail and Station.jpg
Mabel Trailhead's picnic shelter, a.k.a. Mabel Station.
Map showing the location of General James A. Van Fleet State Trail
Map showing the location of General James A. Van Fleet State Trail
Location Lake, Polk and Sumter counties, USA
Nearest city Lakeland, Florida
Coordinates 28°28′52″N 81°56′02″W / 28.48111°N 81.93389°W / 28.48111; -81.93389Coordinates: 28°28′52″N 81°56′02″W / 28.48111°N 81.93389°W / 28.48111; -81.93389
Area 29.2-mile (47.0 km) length
Governing body Florida Department of Environmental Protection

General James A. Van Fleet State Trail is a rail trail in Florida, named after General James A. Van Fleet, who was a distinguished combat commander in both World Wars and the Korean War.[1]

It is protected as a Florida State Park and occupies a 29.2-mile (47.0 km) abandoned portion of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad's Florida Western and Northern corridor through Central Florida's Green Swamp area. It extends from Polk City in the south to Mabel in the north.[2]

It passes through Bay Lake and crosses Lake, Polk and Sumter counties.

The entire 29.2-mile (47.0 km) length of the trail is paved approximately 12-foot (3.7 m) wide and is mostly straight, containing only one slight curve toward the southern end of the trail just north of the Polk City trailhead.

Fauna[edit]

Among the wildlife that can be seen along the trail are egrets, herons and various raptors. Also sighted are White-tailed deer, Florida Gopher Tortoises, American Alligators, Raccoons and Nine-banded Armadillos.

Recreational activities[edit]

Activities include walking, running, inline skating, hiking, horseback riding, biking, and viewing wildlife.

Hours and fees[edit]

Florida state parks are open between 8 a.m. and sundown every day of the year (including holidays). There is no admission necessary to use the park.

Accessibility[edit]

The trail has four trailheads with parking areas specifically for the trail, each spaced approximately 9.6 miles (15.4 km) apart. These are located in Polk City at the intersection of State Road 33 and County Road 665; Green Pond, FL at the intersection of Green Pond Road and the trail itself; Bay Lake at the intersection of Bay Lake Road (County Road 565) and the trail itself; and finally in Mabel where the trail intersects with State Road 50. The right of way for the former railroad line continues north under a bridge beneath SR 50 on its way to Coleman. This line carried the Silver Meteor between Coleman and Auburndale until 1988.

Amenities[edit]

Amenities include a picnic pavilion, several picnic tables, restrooms, and drinking fountains.

Parking, restrooms, and drinking fountains are available at all four trailheads.

Gallery[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to General James A. Van Fleet State Trail at Wikimedia Commons