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Escape to Nature on the Panther Point Trail


Published on May 6, 2021


Step into nature and take a stroll on Panther Point Trail.

Explore the outdoors and enjoy scenic views of nature and wildlife alongside the Panther Point Trail. It runs along the eastern shore of Lake Hancock and adjacent wetlands within county and state managed conservation lands. The multiuse trail is eight miles long and provides a great place for hikers, bicyclists, and nature enthusiasts.

There are two trail heads that begin the trail. The northern trailhead begins in the Marshall Hampton Reserve off Thornhill Road. The southern trailhead, which just opened to the public, connects to the Fort Fraser Trail off U.S. 98, just north of Bartow.

The northern trailhead takes hikers through an active cow pasture and meanders through reclaimed mined areas, swamp lands and a few natural habitats. The pine flatwoods habitat is dominated by pines, such as long leaf and slash. You will see saw palmetto in the understory, along with blueberry, gallberry, fetterbush and the occasional frostweed aster. The hammock community contains portions of wet, mesic and scrubby flatwoods.

You may also catch a glimpse of wildlife on your journey, so keep your eye out for foxes, Sherman’s fox squirrels, bobcats and deer. A variety of birds frequent the area that include wild turkey, hawks, owls, woodpeckers, warblers, spoonbills and migratory birds. Gopher tortoises and eastern indigo snakes also make their home on this site.

Panther Point is considered a moderate multipurpose trail with uneven ground. Use the posted mile markers to keep track of your distance. There are no exits on the trail, so pace yourself and give yourself time and energy to make the return trip. The trail ties into Fort Fraser Trail and will continue to Circle B Bar Reserve. That’s 14 miles one way.

Northern Trailhead:
Marshall Hampton Reserve
3115 Thornhill Road
Winter Haven

Southern Trailhead:
U.S. 98 and Fort Fraser Trail
Bartow