Colt Creek State Park is a beautiful gateway to the the massive Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve. Lakes, ponds and creeks dot the landscape, as the Floridan Aquifer rises very close to the surface here. The aquifer’s limestone skeleton is often seen poking through the earth. Mac Lake offers a beautiful pier for viewing or fishing. Canoe and kayak rental is available, or you’re welcome to launch your own.
But I didn’t come out here to fish or paddle — I came to ride my mountain bike over the 12* miles of multi-use trails. I ended up riding an 11 mile loop, because 1 section was too flooded to navigate. In truth, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to ride that much of the trail system. We’ve had an unusually warm, wet winter, so many wet areas that normally dry out before February haven’t. Although the entire Green Swamp sits on a slight plateau that drains into four river systems, the difference between a wet area and a dry area is measured in vertical inches in Florida.
Over the entire 11 mile course I rode, the elevation changed only 5 feet from the lowest point to the highest. There are no uphill battles here. That small vertical distance still provided a nice variety of habitats, from pine flatwoods and cypress domes to bottomland forest and open pastures. These habitats attract an amazing array of plant and animal life, which is why it is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail — 150 bird species and 79 butterfly species have been observed here, along with deer, bobcats, eagles, otters and Sherman’s fox squirrels.
These multi-use trails accommodate hikers, bikers and equestrians. Please remember, bikers yield to hikers and both yield to horses. Primitive camping is available and the park is also a geocaching site. These 5,000+ acres are a great introduction to the Green Swamp, which is sprawled across 110,000 acres. As you might imagine, Colt Creek State Park is but a fraction of the outdoor entertainment available in this area — links to the rest of the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve are provided below.
Know Before You Go! Check out the Photo Gallery, video, WonderMap and links. See if Colt Creek State Park peaks your interest as it did mine. If not, check out our Bucket List and Where-to-Go to find the perfect spot for you to enjoy Florida’s Natural Wonders!
*While the park’s website says there are 12 miles of multi-use trails, their trails map shows 2 major trails covering 17 miles. Again, my explorations covered an 11 mile loop.
Colt Creek State Park WonderMap. TIP >> Click on the waypoint flags for GPS location photos.
16000 SR 471
Lakeland, FL 33809