The Circle B Bar Reserve is a MUST SEE in Polk County, especially if the state’s most popular reptile is on your must-see list. But the preserve is so much more than that! From breathtaking sunrises over Lake Hancock to soaring bald eagles and rustic trails, it is one of the best places to see wildlife in Florida.
Alligator Alley, one of the most popular trails, runs along alligator-inhabited Lake Hancock, and the star attractions may be observed at a distance from shore or from a number of piers. Ranging in size from mere inches to nearly as long as your average hatchback car, the alligators are at home and protected in this beautiful nature preserve.
With all the alligators around, it’s easy to get distracted, but don’t miss out on everything else around you. Capture the beauty of nature with your camera and marvel at the tremendous bird population which includes a variety of wading birds, waterfowl, ospreys and bald eagles that also line the trail.
Up Close and Personal
A great feature of the Circle B Bar Reserve variety of trails is that many of them are built upon berms that cross the marsh and swamp habitats, offering an opportunity for the closest wildlife viewing you can have. With so many to choose from, there is a trail that’ll be just the right for you. The extensive trail system includes the Shady Oak Trail (1.3 miles), Lost Bridge Trail (0.5 miles); Alligator Alley (1.0 miles); Marsh Rabbit Run (0.7 miles); Heron Hideout (0.5 miles), Eagle Roost (0.7 miles), Wading Bird Way (0.7 miles), Windmill Whisper (0.4 miles) and the Otter Trail (0.2 miles). Many of the trails interconnect to provide for longer hiking opportunities and more wildlife viewing.
Discover and Delight
Circle B Bar Reserve is also home to the Polk County Nature Discovery Center. The Nature Discovery Center provides hands-on educational opportunities for visitors and school groups to learn more about Florida’s environmental and hydrologic natural resources. The center is loaded with interactive exhibits as well as knowledgeable volunteers armed with trail maps and information at the front desk of the Discovery Center.
Travel in Style
Of course, if a hike isn’t your thing, Circle B Bar Reserve offers a free tram, allowing visitors to experience the same breathtaking ecosystems and take in the same landscape, just on wheels rather than on foot. However, you must register for the tram in advance by calling (863) 668-4673, ext. 205, on the first working day of the month after 9 a.m. The tram tours are conducted on Saturdays and Sundays.