Before You Go:
There are a lot of open areas along the trail so, if you are biking during the heat of the day, sunscreen and sunglasses are recommended. Also, there are some rises in elevation if you are sensitive to small climbs.
From Interstate 4 either east or west, take exit 32 (Highway 35/U.S. 98) south (North Florida Avenue). Head east on Bartow Road (Highway 35/U.S. 98/County Road 548). The road will take a turn to the south and east. There is parking at the University of South Florida in Lakeland campus. Further south, head east on Hancock Avenue SE and take 4th Street SE to the northwest. The trailhead is on the west side of 4th Street SE.
15.5 Miles – A loop out and back from either of the spots mentioned above.
The trail bed is in excellent shape. It is relatively straight and follows a power utility easement parallel to U.S. Highway 98 (Bartow Road). If there has been recent rains, the crossing at the Peace River can be pretty (looking away from U.S. 98). An interesting feature of this trail are the inspirational signs that appear along the way.
- The main trailhead at 4th Street SE.
- The straight nature of the trail. Some may find it monotonous.
- Depending upon your tolerance for small rises in terrain, the northern end may be a struggle for the casual cyclist.
- Busy and noisy U.S. Highway 98 runs the length of the trail.
- The trail bed is in excellent shape.
- There are a few rises and dips along the northern end of the trail. A nice change from the normal flat trails along coastal Florida.
- The eastern side of the trail is very scenic.
Send me an email. I would love to hear from you!
Happy Trails ~ John
2 thoughts on “Fort Fraser Trail – Bartow, Lakeland – Polk County, Florida”
I am an advocate runner. I run the trail every single day, for the past 8 years, and for the most part I feel pretty safe. I run during peak hours, and when I don’t my husband usually joins me. Due to my schedule I am currently running the trail at 6:30am and have done so for the last 4 months. For the most part I feel pretty safe as for I am now familiar with the regulars. Lately I have been seeing two men on a vespa or a small motorcycle heading towards Bartow Ford, and they past me by awfully close. Also one of them always looks back at me, and I get a horrible vibe. I was wondering if there is anything that can be done about this? I was under the impression that motor vehicles or motorcycles were not allowed at the trail. I also want to point out that I decided to run the other way (north) just so that I would avoid them as for that part of the trail is a lot more visible to the public and I feel a lot safer. But my preferred running path is south. Anyway, I hope to hear back and see if there may be a solution to this matter.
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