The Great Outdoors

When your annual mean temperature is 72.2 degrees, and the daily range between high and low temperatures averages 20.1 degrees in winter and 19.8 degrees in the summer, you can count on being able to spend lots of time outdoors.

Bartow is a perfect place for a leisurely hike. It’s also the right place for serious nature lovers. At the 460-acre Mosaic Peace River Park, you can take a walk on a wooden boardwalk through century-old cypress trees, majestic oaks and pines. Experience the sites and sounds of nature as you head toward the river bank. Birds and wildlife abound in this pristine setting. This park is also a great place for horseback riding.

Another area popular with nature lovers is the Circle B Bar Reserve. This reserve provides the only public access to Lake Hancock and is home to Polk’s Nature Discovery Center. The center features an exhibit hall, along with indoor and outdoor classrooms providing visitors an opportunity to discover Polk County’s water, wilderness and wildlife.

Observe nature, hike, picnic and bicycle on 1,267 acres that once served as a cattle ranch. The property features an oak hammock, freshwater marsh, hardwood swamp and lake shore. Lake Hancock, Polk County’s fourth largest lake, sits at the headwaters of the Peace River. Trail hikers may see a variety of birds, including sandhill cranes, bald eagles, wood storks, great blue herons and many other wading birds. A walk along the banks of Lake Hancock will likely include many alligator sightings.

Polk County is known as Central Florida’s Lakes Country. Those who like to fish, boat and canoe have access to more than 550 freshwater lakes and numerous rivers and streams throughout Polk County. Largemouth bass, speckled perch, bream, bluegill and black crappie abound. One of the state’s most popular canoeing streams is the Peace River, which flows south from Bartow to the Gulf of Mexico.