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Note: Per a Florida Department of Transportation press release, "The Fort Fraser Trail will be closed at the Banana Creek Bridge from April through fall 2016 due to construction. The remainder of the trail including the Fort Fraser Connector Trail will remain open."
The paved Fort Fraser Trail traverses part of the former CSX Railroad line, running parallel to US Highway 98 for nearly 8 miles, from Bartow to near Crystal Lake, Florida.
Although the trail is named for the 1837 fort, built during the Second Seminole War, which in turn was named for Captain Upton S. Fraser, who was killed in the first battle of the war two years earlier. In November of 1837, Colonel Zachary Taylor (later our 12th president) arrived with Company B & E of the 1st U.S. Infantry. With them they brought 80 wagons of supplies to construct a new military road from Fort Brooke in Tampa to the Kissimmee River. Fort Fraser didn't last long; it was decommissioned six months later. Today, a historical marker notes the spot where the fort once stood, just south of CR 540A.
The trail includes picnic and rest shelters; also, look for some of the 33 different species of butterfly that flit among the native plantings, including the lovely zebra swallowtail.
From I-4 in Lakeland, east or west, take the Polk Parkway (Toll Road 570) and exit at US 98 south, Exit 10. Head south to the PCC/USF entrance and follow the signs for the Fort Fraser Trail parking, behind the sheriff's substation.
The Highland City trailhead is due south of PCC/USF Campus trailhead and includes restrooms and other amenities. Head south on US 98/SR 700/Bartow Rd/CR 540A to Highland City. Turn left on Central Ave., right on 4th St SE; parking is on the right.
This is a trail that I ride 2-3 times a week. A lot of times we will park on the south end at a Pizza Hut off of Rt 60 just a little west of the trail. It makes for a nice place to have lunch after our ride. The trail is nice, but is getting some rough areas that need to be repaired. There is a bike store on the west side of 98 that has a Saturday morning group ride at 7:30 that uses the trail, so, sometimes a bit of congestion. A lot of nature along the way, especially if you have an off-road bike, you can take a 1/2 mile paved spur that leads to the Circle B Bar Preserve. Beware, there are alligators in THEIR natural habitat.
I ride this trail 3-5 times a wk. Starting at the north end: the N trailhead is next to a sheriffs office so it is a little safer. No RR or water there. 1 mile into ride there's acovered bridge. .5 Mi. to spur to a nature preserve (Circle B Bar) The spur is nice for wildlife. One can continue into the reserve with mt bike for terrain. I just ride the .5 spur and then back. After 2.5 miles total there is a trail head (highlands city). RR and water. Across street is Bike shop. The trail goes another 3 mi. to another spur. This one is 2 mi. Then 2 more mi. to Bartow, fl. To trail head Another covered bridge. After bridge is major highway with no easy way to cross and only 100 feet of trail on across hwy. I'd stop at bridge. Good ride. 3.5 stars!
Yesterday was my first time riding on the Fort Fraser Trail. I must say besides the strong winds, it was an enjoyable ride. Going north there are some slight elevation changes, but nothing too difficult for a beginner. At the halfway point of the trail there is a restroom, water fountains, and adequate amount of parking. Overall I gave the trail a 4 out of 5 because it is very user friendly. However, I would like to see more water fountains added and it being expanded eventually.
Riding the Fort Fraser Trail today (April 14, 2016), I noted signs projecting a trail closure for upcoming work at the Banana Creek Bridge from "Spring 2016 until Fall 2016". This area is just south of the northernmost parking area located behind the Sheriff's headquarters at Polk C.C. When the trail closure occurs, the remaining portion of the trail to the south of the bridge will be accessible from the Highland City parking area. As of today, the trail was still open at Banana Creek.
The length is reasonable and the pavement is wide and in excellent condition for the entire length of the trail. A restroom, water and plenty of benches are available along the trial. Unfortunately US98 runs along the west side of the trail and the traffic is very noisy. Also the scenery on the east side of the trail could be better. This trail is great for the local rider or visitor to the area who doesn't want to risk riding the roads. My rating is based in comparison to the many trails I have ridden throughout the Eastern U.S. I have experienced some of the best trails in the nation with beautiful scenery and their quaint little towns.
I ride this trail practically every Saturday morning. It's an easy trail for someone new to cycling, looking for a casual or an easy training day. It's a short trail of just over 7.5 miles, relatively flat with a few slight inclines. The trailhead is behind the Sheriffs building on the Polk State College campus. It mainly runs along side RT 98 and passes a cemetery, McDonalds a public rest room, an orange groove, Ford Dealer, hospital and open land. Several stores are located across RT 98. You can add miles to your ride. At about mile 5.5 (at the Ford Dealer) turn left on Earnest Smith Blvd and ride the path which runs two miles to Bartow road passing cow pastures and open land. A few miles up you can ride a few laps around Bartow Hospital; each one is just shy of a mile. Early weekend mornings there are several folks on the trail but it's not overly crowded. Occassionally a cycling group will ride through but they do not interfere with the others on the trail.
After reading the other reviews, I was prepared for a pleasant non-challenging trail. It's smooth, clean, well maintained & basically a sidewalk next to a freeway. Disappointing.
After arriving at the trail, my eight year-old tells me he forgot his helmet. A quick Google search revealed a bike shop in the Publix shopping center across the street. Now we could ride. We rode the trail and took the connector into Circle B, a MUST see for any one who enjoys wildlife. Lots of construction in the area but, still worth the ride.
My wife and I ride this trail abut 3 or 4 times a month. Thus we call refer to it as our Habit trail. We start at the Highlands trailhead which has ample parking, water fountains, restrooms and picnic tables under shade. We usually go Northwest. For the little over 2 and a half miles to Winterlake Road and then back to the trailhead and then go Southeast to Rte. 60 in Bartow. Dicey intersection with the Old Bartow -Lake Wales Rd. There is a Wendy's just a block West of that intersection where we get a water or bathroom break if needed. Last time we rode it there were construction projects in both directions that caused us to have to walk the bikes through them. Still an enjoyable ride with butterflies, cicadas (noisy little critters) and horses, donkeys and cattle to view. There is a nice orange grove in the Southeast portion that has a wonderful aroma when the orange blossoms come out. After the ride, there is a small shopping plaza across the road from the Highlands trailhead. Gators Sports Bar has fantastic grilled chicken wings, beer, sweet tea and other great items on their menu. Plus lots of TV's to view during football season. A lot of Steeler fans are there on Sundays.
We biked the trail from Highlands City Trailhead down to one end and back to the trailhead, and then went the other direction to Bartow and back. It was a great trail to bike, but we were disappointed that the bathrooms were not open when we started or finished. Since we traveled over an hour to get to the trail we were expecting the bathrooms to be open or we would have stopped somewhere on the way.In my opinion, the bathrooms should be open early in the morning and stay open until sunset.
We started at the Polk State College Trailhead and rode to Bartow, Florida. The trail crossing was closed from route 60 South in Bartow because of side walk repairs. There are bathroom facilities at the Highland City trailhead, we didn't use the facilities. The trail is nice and clean. It parallels US 98 most of the way, so you get a lot of road noise. We didn't see any animals on the trip. We enjoyed the various quotes on the power poles. If you get tired along the way, there are many places to take a break, all of which are very clean. You can even purchase a smoothie in Bartow when you take a break. There are a couple of "hills" which make the ride more challenging.
Nice trail. I put in at Highland City and rode to Bartow and back. Nice rest area with bathrooms in Highland City. Benches along the way. Another time I put in at the Circle B reserve and rode out to the Fraser and then north to the Sheriffs sub station near the USF and Polk State campus. There is parking behind the sub station and also in Highland City.
The family ode this trail today. We started at the trail head in Bartow and rode the entire trail as well as the extension to the Circle B Reserve. My daughter recently stated riding a bike less than two weeks ago. We rode over 15 miles with her today on this trail. PLeanty of shde, nice breeze and very clean. We will ride this trail again very soon.
This trail is well kept and has a nice variety of sections for all kind of activities. It has a couple of hills that are a nice welcome for the bicycle enthusiast as well as for the people walking. The head trail in Highland City has a good facility with parking with access in both directions; north and south. Has some shade protected and wavy sections with places to rest. In summary I think is a great addition for those that want to stay in shape or for those who want to enjoy the natural view.
Of the some 30 trails I have done in Florida this has the best amenities. It has 3 nice trail heads with parking, many historical signs and a rest room at the center trail head. It is a wide trail with a good bit of shade. It even has its own marked truck for maintaining the trail. The mileage markers go outward from the center so you need to do a bit of figuring. Youker
The trailis a very nice on. The covered bridge in the picture is now finished and looks great, it is just south of the PCC/USF campus. The trail there is a little hilly and loud because it is close to the highway. For a shorter trip try getting on the trail at the Highland City Trail Head and go south to Bartow. The are sections that are below the old trail bed and it is a little farther away from traffic. But no matter what it is a nice trail.
"Great ""little"" trail. If your visiting Lakeland FL you should give it a try. Combined with a ride around Lake Hollomgsworth (or a few laps) & the historic district, it's a great 20 to 30 miles...you can make the ride as long or as short as you like. Feel free to e-mail me for more info.
"Bathrooms are still being built, & lots of construction going on, but overall, this is one of the most impressive trails I've skated, excellent surface, very well thought out street crossings, & there's even a hospital along the trail in case (hope not) you get hurt!
See my forum for full review pics, & video
"Although the Fort Fraser Trail is open along its entire length. it remains a work in progress. Construction at the Highland City Trailhead is ongoing. As is the
planting of trees and laying of sod in places along the trail. The ""interpretive"" signs are in place with historical, geographical, cultural, and natural information about the region surrounding the trail. The smaller round signs are
not advertisements for shaving
cream, instead they have proverbs, quotes, and humor from various sources. Road crossing signs look like rail road crossing signs. Mile markers tell how far it is from the trail hub in Highlands City.
The trail does continue for a short distance south of SR 60 in Bartow. But you will have to take a detour to cross the six lanes of SR 60 at a traffic light in otder to get there."
"From web page:
Ft. Fraser Trail Grand Opening
December 9, 2006 from 10 am to 2 pm
It is finally here! The highly anticipated Ft. Fraser Trail Grand Opening will include opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting, a family fun run (1 mile--1/2 mile in and back), snow fest, food, vendors, and a butterfly release. To purchase a butterfly for release please call Glenda Mink at 863-534-4340.
The festivities will take place at the USF/PCC campus and entrance to the trail. Activities are free however there will be fees for food/vendors. For more information, please call Polk County Leisure Services 863-534-4340.
"For some information about the planning and development of the Fort Fraser Trail, you can check out the following Web sites.
From the City of Lakeland: www.lakelandgov.net/publicworks/FORTFRASER.html
From Polk Transportation Planning Organization:
From Florida Department of Transportation: www.us98pde.com/study_alternatives.htm"
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