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Saddle Creek Park

Saddle Creek Park is one of the finest fall birding sites in interior Central Florida, home to more than 35 different warbler species and is well known by birders statewide.

Of the 750 acres that make up Saddle Creek Park in Lakeland, the majority of the acreage is taken up by former phosphate mine pits that are now lakes. There are two main trails that are very good for hiking, the 1.2 mile Nature Trail and the 2.3 mile Tenoroc Trails (made up of the 1.1 mile Flatwoods Loop and 1.2 mile Lake Loop). The Nature Trail is very broad and provides an easy hike. The Tenoroc Trails are narrower and provide a more strenuous hike.

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Saddle Creek Park is situated between Winter Haven and Lakeland in Polk County, Florida. It is managed and maintained by Polk County Leisure Services who do a great job of caring for the park. Polk county is in central Florida and is about half way between Orlando and Tampa. This website is designed to help people get more familiar with the park and help them get the most out of their visit and also to attract new visitors.

It is a great place to visit or stay while on vacation as well as just spend some time doing one of your favorite outdoor hobbies, if you live in the local area. It is one of the largest county parks in central Florida and has facilities for all the family, whether you just want to cruise your boat on a beautiful lake, take advantage of some great fishing, or hike along some wonderful forest trails. There are also facilities for target shooting, as well as children’s playgrounds, sports facilities and picnic gazebos. If you love spending time outdoors, you will love Saddle Creek Park.
Fishing
Fishing is definitely the most common activity of the regular park visitors. No matter what time of day or year, you come to the park you will always find someone fishing. This is not surprising when you discover that Saddle Creek Park has more lakeside bank fishing available than any other park or public facility in Polk County. The lakeside areas are very well maintained and provide very convenient and easy access for fishing.

Boating
Of the 750 acres that make up the park, most of it is lake. It is a very interesting and varied lake environment and it takes a while to get to know it well. There are five boat ramps available, so there is ample access. There is only one part of the lake with limited access and that is solely handled by ramp 4. The other parts of the lakes are all joined and can be accessed from any of the other four ramps. The water ways are suitable for both powered boats as well as canoes. Check out the map page from the link below to see where the ramps are. Also check the other link to see some pictures of the park from the boating enthusiasts viewpoint.

Hiking
There are two main trails that are very good for hiking in Saddle Creek Park. Dogs are allowed on the trails, but no motorized vehicles are permitted. The Nature trail is the main trail on the park and the other Trail is not strictly part of the park but access to the trail is from Saddle Creek.

Nature Trail
The Nature Trail is approximately 1.2 miles in length. However, since it dead-ends and does not loop, then the full hike is more like 2.4 miles. It is very broad and is well maintained and is an easy hike which will take approximately 1 hour to complete

Tenoroc Trail
Although the entrance to this trail is part of Saddle Creek, it is actually part of the Tenoroc fish management area. To that point, there is an entrance fee ($3), that you self pay when entering the trail. Until just recently no fishing was allowed in the Lake the trail surrounds, however it is now open and as long as people have a Florida fishing license they are able to fish in the lake. There is also an entrance open at the north side from Saddle Creek Road that allows access.

There are two parts to the Tenoroc trail, the first part you come to is called the Lake Loop and is 1.2 miles, the second part is called the Flatwoods Loop and that is 1.1 miles. Overall it takes about 1hr 15mins to hike the trail. This trail is far narrower than the Nature Trail and has more ups and downs. It is a little harder to hike and has closer exposure to nature and wildlife. The Lake Loop is mostly shaded, but the Flatwoods trail is far more open.

Camping
The campgrounds are situated in a lakeside area with shade provided by large oak trees. There are electricity and water hookups and there is usually a mixture of people just camping with tents or in full-sized campers. You are certainly able to relax next to your camping area, and fish for bass or just watch the sun set over the lakes.

There is also some lakeside and some short trails that are accessed from the campgrounds and are not commonly used by the general members of the public who come to the park.

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