If you haven’t hit the trail in a while in Polk County, you might be surprised by the growth in the local trail system.
The length of paved, multi-use trails alone has grown from 4.5 miles 25 years ago to 65 miles today.
The length of all trails, including trails in local conservation areas, totals at least 400 miles.
This information comes from Ryan Kordek, Polk’s transportation planning administrator. He discussed the history and future of the trail system in Polk and beyond at Thursday’s monthly Ancient Islands Sierra Club meeting at Circle B Bar Reserve.
The newest trails are the first phase of the Panther Point Trail on the east side of Lake Hancock and the Peace River Trail in Fort Meade.
Kordek said the future includes work to link existing trails within Polk and to link them to other regional trails in the state, such as the Coast-to-Coast Trail, which is planned to run from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean along a path north of Polk County.
Those projects include linking the Lakeland trail system to the trail system in Tenoroc Public Use Area and to connect Tenoroc’s trail system to the Auburndale-TECO Trail, which connects to the Van Fleet Trail. Farther out is a plan connect the Auburndale-TECO Trail to the Chain of Lakes and Lake Alfred trails, the last of which is nearing completion.
Kordek said another idea is to connect the segments in the existing trail system along the Peace River and to explore ways to extend it southward to Charlotte Harbor.
If you want to keep up on trail plans and to get more information on the current trail system, go to the Polk Transportation Organization’s Facebook page.