VanFleet Trail: Polk County

We made a return trip to the Van Fleet Trail (click here to read about our ride from the Mabel Trailhead), biking the southern portion starting at Polk City. This is easily one of my favorite places to ride since the trail is so flat.


Less than two miles from the trailhead we spotted the first wildlife of the day. Not gators or gopher tortoises or rabbits like you might expect, but a herd of llama. A lone llama posed for us from outside the fenced enclosure before we continued on our way.


The trail was well marked with mile markers painted on the path as well as the names of roads crossed and emergency contact information. Another interesting feature of the trail: a bicycle repair station complete with a pump and a few basic tools.


More wildlife along the trail, but again only the domesticated type. The rural landscape was home to donkeys, cows and horses. And while we heard gators in the swamp bordering much of the trail, none were to be seen.


The roundtrip ride from the Polk City Trailhead to the trailhead at Green Pond measured 19.7 miles. On a clear, cool, February afternoon, this trail was a great ride despite the fact the wind blew in our face riding out AND on our return. How come it never blows to our back both ways?


Although flat and straight like the northern part of the trail, the southern portion of the Van Fleet Trail did not provide the cover of shade we found on our earlier ride starting in Groveland. I’d ride this section only in the early morning or on a cool day so as not to bake in the sun.

We’ve ridden all but the middle section of the Van Fleet trail so the next time we’ll start at Green Pond and ride north to Bay Lake Road in the heart of the Green Swamp. This section is described as tree-lined offering shade during most of the day, and it crosses the start of the Withlacoochee River at three points…maybe a good place for a March ride.


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