Panther Point Trail Officially Opens; More Trails Coming

Polk’s trail network is expanding again.

The first phase of the Panther Point Trail along the eastern shore of Lake Hancock is now officially open.

The five-mile section runs from the edge of the Marshall Hampton Reserve south to a point near the southern edge of Lake Hancock.

The ultimate design, which will be an 8.7-mile trail that will link to the Fort Fraser Trail along U.S. 98 on the north side of Bartow, will have to wait completion of the construction of the new boat ramp on Saddle Creek near the water control structure.

The construction timeline is still up in the air, pending a series of permits involving everything from wetlands mitigation to getting access to for a driveway on U.S. 98.

The trail has no facilities, so take water and snacks you think you’ll need.

I hiked the trail earlier this week. It’s scenic and offers a lot of wildlife-viewing opportunities, but if you want to hike up and back, plan to spend a good part of the day, less if you bicycle.

Also, another new trail will open later this month at The Nature Conservancy’s Tiger Creek Preserve east of Lake Wales. The formal dedication will be at 10 a.m. Feb. 17 at the Wakeford Road trailhead off Walkinwater Road.

The 2.5-mile trail is advertised as providing a great view of the creek from dune bluffs.

Also, don’t forget the presentation on trail plans for Polk at the next meeting Feb. 9 at Circle B.

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.