Thursday, March 13, 2014

Biking Florida's TECO Auburndale Trail

The TECO Auburndale Trail's northern end begins in the trailhead lot for the Van Fleet State Trail in Polk City alongside State Highway 33. The first mile or so is tree lined and parallels Berkeley Road and passes under I-4. The trailhead sign calls the trail "Van Fleet Extension" and in fact the first couple miles are a paved connector leading to the actual Auburndale Trail, and then at the 2 mile mark, the trail signs announce the Auburndale Trail.

The "TECO" part of the name refers to the Tampa Electric Company whose high tension wires run above you from mile 2 to mile 5.5 as seen in the photo below.  The trail is paved, mainly flat, and in good repair.  Swinging gates at every road crossing are open but for some reason allow for the trail to be closed off and locked. From here south, rest benches and mileage signs are spaced every half mile.

Around mile 5.5 you reach a small trailside park with the Playland Fitness Course structures for your use.  There are also several blue water spigots available.

At mile 6 you reach Lake Myrtle Park with its numerous lighted baseball and softball fields, washrooms, water fountains, and tons of parking.

A fenced dog exercise park is next, and then the trail ends at mile 7 at the Lake Myrtle Trailhead  (Denton Avenue and Jones Road) with parking, washrooms, and a picnic table.

To reach the Polk City/Van Fleet Trailhead, exit I-4 at exit 38 and head north on SR 33 to Polk City.  Follow the brown signs for the Van Fleet Trail.

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