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Florida Guide > Places to Visit

General Van Fleet Trail

This trail is on the bed of an old railway line, which was closed in the 1980s. It is 29. 2 miles long and is paved, which makes it suitable for bicycling as well as walking. It runs from Mabel in the north to Polk City in the south. There is car parking at four places on the route.

To get there, you come out of Woodcrest Way and turn right onto Hwy 27 and then turn left onto the 474 at the next set of lights opposite Walgreen. You continue for some miles on this pleasant road, which does not have much traffic except for trucks. At the junction with the 33, if you are going to Mabel you turn right, where you continue to Hwy 50, passing a restaurant called the Red Wing, more of which later. You then turn left onto the 50 at Groveland, and continue through Mascotte into open country. Mabel is only a hamlet; just after the sign you will see another sign, for the trail to the left, just before the 50 goes over a bridge. Turn here onto an unmade road until you come to the beginning of the trail, where there is a car park and facilities. Here you can start walking, looking out for the wild life. After about a half mile you should lose the noise of the traffic.

Alternatively, you can turn left onto the 33 for about 2 or three miles then take the first right, which is Green Pond Road. Drive down this country lane, which passes a hamlet with a church, for about two or three miles until you hit the trail, which is signed, and you will find the car park on your right, as well as the usual facilities. We walked north for about two miles, through what is described as a swampy area, although we did not see any alligators! However, we did see a spectacular Red Cardinal among the many varieties of birds; apart from birdsong there was not a sound to be heard.

As yet we have not explored the Polk City end. Because the trail is flat, it lends itself to bicycling as well as walking. Apparently you can hire cycles from a firm which will bring them to your house and fit a roof rack for you.

We had a good lunch in the Red Wing Restaurant, which is the nearest you are likely to get to a country pub in Florida. Incidentally, it does serve draught beer, very cold. Lunch is served from 11 to 2 or 3 and has a reasonable menu, but the evening meal, served between 4. 30 to 9. 30, has a full range of game such as Buffalo, Venison and Ostrich, as well as other meat and fish. It did not appear too expensive.

It was especially nice to motor along relatively quiet roads before a very pleasant walk and tasty meal.

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Page added on: 15 March 2007
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