places to visit in Lakeland, FL

Circle B Bar Reserve

In Polk County, Florida, the Circle B Bar Reserve is a protected area. The Polk County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) manages the 1,267-acre (5.13-km2) property at 4399 Winter Lake Road (SR 540) in Lakeland, which it co-owns with the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The park was bought in 2000 for $7.4 million using monies allocated by a 1994 referendum on environmental lands acquisition. Circle B Bar Reserve was bought jointly by the Polk County Environmental Lands Program and the District to conserve the floodplain of Lake Hancock and restore the Banana Creek marsh system. It was named after a cattle ranch that originally stood on the land. Polk County is responsible for the upkeep of the land. Much of the area had previously been converted to pasture, but restoration work was completed in 2005 and 2006 to restore much of the land’s natural hydrologic function. Circle B presently has some of the most amazing bird activity on District land as a consequence of the marsh system restoration effort. Wading birds, ducks, ospreys, and bald eagles are among the many species of birds that inhabit the area. Alligators can be seen at a distance from the beach or a pier in Lake Hancock. This property’s distinctive features include an oak hammock, freshwater marsh, hardwood swamp, and shoreline. The site is now an excellent location for individuals who like hiking on unpaved routes, riding along streets and trails, and fishing on Lake Hancock. Picnic areas, a Nature Discovery Center, and an amazing bird population of bald eagles, ospreys, ducks, and wading birds are all available. The preserve has been recognized as a Great Florida Birding Trail site by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Great Florida Birding Trail program. Birdwatching, animal viewing, and educational possibilities are among the reasons sites are chosen. There are several trails and roads across the property. Circle B Bar has 3.5 miles (5.6 km)s of unpaved hiking/biking trails and is connected to the paved Fort Fraser Trail by the 0.6-mile paved Fort Fraser-Circle B Bar Connector Trail, which extends from Lakeland to Bartow. Bicyclists under the age of 16 are required by law to wear helmets. The unpaved Alligator Alley Trail (2.5 km roundtrip) connects the parking lot to Lake Hancock. Marsh Rabbit Run is a route that travels through Banana Creek Marsh and is not paved. Between the main entrance and the Nature Discovery Center, there are picnic tables along the road. With over 220 species of birds, this amazing reserve is one of the top inland birding and wildlife viewing places in Central Florida.

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