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Walking Club: Exploring Polk County’s Lakeland Highlands Scrub

Walking Club
Posted at 5:53 AM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 10:05:57-05

Many of us are looking for ways to be active while also staying a safe distance away from others. That's why Sarah Phinney started a ‘Walking Club’ to highlight some hidden, and some not so hidden, trails and parks across the Tampa Bay.

Visit Lakeland Highlands Scrub in Polk County this weekend. It’s a great place to see the unique Florida scrub, along with plants and wildlife you won’t find anywhere else in our region.

Where is it?
Lakeland Highlands Scrub is in Lakeland south. Put this address into your phone before you head out:

6998 Lakeland Highlands Rd
Lakeland, FL 33813

Just follow the road until it dead ends. You’ll see a sign for Lakeland Highlands Scrub and a parking area.

Why is it unique?

Lakeland Highlands Scrub covers more than 500 acres. Here you’ll find one of the largest undeveloped scrub properties on the Lakeland Ridge.

“So you’re gonna see white sand, prickly-pear cactus, you’re gonna see short evergreen oaks. It’s a very desert-like habitat,” said Candice Knothe, Polk County Parks and Natural Resources Environmental Lands Stewardship Coordinator.

What is there to do?

There are more than three miles of trails at Lakeland Highlands Scrub, including a roughly half-mile Shady Oak Trail.

“You’re gonna walk through some really old oaks. You might see some gopher tortoises,” said Knothe. “It’s really nice and shaded and good for people who are beginning hikers.”

Those looking for more mileage and more sun should head for the Scrub-Flatwoods trail (Tortoise Trail). The 2.2 mile hike will take you through scrubby flatwoods, scrub and across a boardwalk.

Remember to wear solid walking shoes and bring sunscreen, a hat, water and insect repellent, especially if you plan to take the longer loop.

Visitors will also find a connection to Se7en Wetlands(featured on #WalkingClub in October) through Lakeland Highlands Scrub. Signage on the Scrub-Flatwoods trail will point you in the right direction.

When should I visit?

Lakeland Highlands Scrub is open 6 am to 6:30 pm.

Get involved in Walking Club!
Post photos of your adventures, ask questions and learn about upcoming #WalkingClub stories in Sarah’s Walking Club group on Facebook!

You can also keep up with Sarah on Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.