Tiger Creek Preserve

Another day in Florida and another hike!!


This time we headed over to Lake Wales, where we were looking forward to visiting the Tiger Creek Preserve.

The drive to the preserve is along the picturesque Ridge Scenic Highway, which is a 38 miles stretch of road on the Lake Wales Ridge. Once off the Scenic Highway, there is a further five miles drive on a bouncy orange sandy road with orange groves to either side. Mile upon mile of trees laden with ripe oranges waiting to be picked and made into Florida orange juice…..yummy!

On arrival at the remote site of Tiger Creek Preserve, there is parking for approx 4 cars. It was at this point I realised we appeared to be miles from anyway and my surrounds were so peaceful. This 5000 acre preserve is managed by The Nature Conservancy, who have protected this area since 1971. The Natural Conservancy is a worldwide private conservation organisation, managing and protect more than 119 million acres worldwide.

Maps are located at the head of the trails, with most of the trails starting from Pfundstein. This trail is the gateway to Patrick Creek Loop, Heron Pond Loop or a hiker can go onto the Highlands Loop which extends to the Creek Bluffs Loop. If you decide to take the furthest trail, you will have hiked around 9.1 miles by the time you return to the parking lot.


Ancient Islands

Tiger Creek Preserve is located on Florida’s oldest and highest land mass which is called the Lake Wales Ridge. This is a sand ridge referred to as Florida’s Ancient Islands,Β  measuring 150 miles through central Florida and being clearly visible from space. This area has the highest concentration of endangered and threatened plants in the USA, with only 10% of the original native habit remaining.

As we walked along the trial, it was apparent how different the landscape is here from previous places we have hiked. There are so many different species of plants and shrubs, even though our visit was during winter. I would imagine in the summer season there would be even more to see.

This is a nice spot alongΒ Pfundstein trail, where I sat and soaked up the beauty and atmosphere. I spotted a painted rock on top of the post next to the bench. Geocaching is a popular activity in Florida, where people exchange painted stones at given geographical locations.

As I walk around Tiger Creek, I noticed a number of burnt trees or stumps like the one below. These can be either from lightning strikes, for which Florida has the most lightning strikes in the whole of the USA or due to fire management. Fire management is a controlled burn of a selected area to maintain an ecological balance of species and to improve natural habitat.

If you enjoy the peace of the outdoors and love to hike, I would recommend visiting Tiger Creek Reserve. It makes a great day out, with lots of beautiful and variant landscape to take in. Remember to bring along a picnic and plenty of water because it can get very hot out there! Bug spraying up is a definite must also!

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  • 1AdventureTraveler

    Wow another awesome place to check out. Tiger Creek is a little more than and hour due west of me. I bet you were a little warm checking that place out since the weather has been a bit warm here. Saw the bug spray mentioned since I was going to ask a mosquitos. Love your travels through Florida. Great photos and thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • Sam H Travels

      I didn’t realise you live in Florida, I am jealous πŸ™‚ When I visit Florida I always seem to be eaten alive, but I found some awesome bug spray which worked amazing. I think I had 1 bite throughout my whole trip which is a miracle for me!

  • Scarlett Begonias

    We grew up in South Florida and did a lot of hiking there over the years. It reminds me of a few hikes we did in Ocala and Naples. If you visit Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, they also have those fire charred trees throughout the hike. This was very nostalgic, thank you for the post. πŸ™‚

    • Sam H Travels

      You are lucky to have grown up in Florida πŸ™‚ I remember visiting Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary a few years ago, its a cool place to visit too. It seems Florida use the Fire Management a lot in their state parks?

  • This looks like a nice peaceful little hike. The painted rock is pretty cool… I’ve thought about seeking out some geocaching locations in my current city. And that’s an interesting piece of trivia that Florida has the most lightning strikes in the US!

    • Sam H Travels

      Geocaching is fun! I am glad in Florida, they seem to leave the rocks in easy to spot places and not in tree stumps as they would in the Uk πŸ˜‰

  • Tracy McConnachie Collins

    Looks like an amazing place for a hike! Have yet to visit anywhere in Florida but it looks like a great place to visit (I only think of Disney, the Everglades and Miami so it’s great to know more about the state!(

    • Sam H Travels

      Yes I think the other side to Florida is seriously understated and I am hoping to raise a little more awareness with my posts πŸ™‚

  • Oana A. Nicolescu

    This seems a great place for a hike. I haven’t been to US but hopefully I will get there soon. My boyfriend is always looking for geocache on all our trips and he has been to Florida – I will ask if he checked there as well. Thank you for sharing!

    • Sam H Travels

      Does your boyfriend use the painted stones for geocaching?

  • Travel Lexx

    Love the look of this place and I would really enjoy walking that trail. The landscape is beautiful – not what I imagine when I think of Florida! Looks like great day out!

    • Sam H Travels

      It’s great to take a picnic and make a day out with trails like this πŸ™‚

  • Lisa

    Previously, living in Florida most of my life I have explored a good bit of the state. Thanks so much for sharing another side of Florida that people don’t take time to see. The state really does have some great places to explore off the beaten path. Nice pictures!

    • Sam H Travels

      Thank you Lisa. I have seen some of your Florida posts too and I think between us, we are showing people that there IS another side to Florida πŸ™‚

  • Shona Grant

    Another great hiking spot, Sam. Beautiful flora and I like that there are a few hikes to choose from allowing for time restrictions or fitness levels. Great post!

    • Sam H Travels

      Yes I agree, it’s good to have different trails for the hikers to choose from.

  • Looks a great area for a hike. We have only visited Florida and done the touristy stuff would love to spend some more time there and explore areas like this. #feetdotravel

    • Sam H Travels

      It’s a fantastic place to hike. There are so many hidden gems in Florida πŸ™‚

  • Anna

    Looks like an awesome hike! My only visit to Florida included the Orlando theme parks – must come back one day explore the nature, for sure. Tiger Creek Preserve looks like a peaceful walk with nature!

    • Sam H Travels

      It was probably one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to!

  • I’m from Florida and we’ve barely hiked any trails here. Time to add hiking Florida trails to our “to-do list”. We do geocaching once in a while and it’s quite fun! Until you get ticks….that only happened once.

    • Sam H Travels

      Oh that’s no fun! Thankfully I haven’t had ticks yet! There are a couple of nice state parks near where you are. I hope you get time to visit them once in a while πŸ™‚

  • I have great memories of going on holiday to Florida as a kid. I’m a fan of hiking so would love to go back again to do some walks.

    • Sam H Travels

      I hope you are able to visit again some day πŸ™‚

  • David Johnston

    I’m really enjoying learning more about Florida through your posts. I had always only thought about it in turns of swamps, so it’s great to learn about the different sides to the nature there. Beautiful walking trails at Tiger Creek.

    • Sam H Travels

      I have been visiting Florida on and off since 2000 and on each visit, I learn something new and unexpected about Florida. Perhaps this is why I love Florida so much πŸ™‚

  • SecretTraveller

    Wow, the Tiger Creek Preserve looks like an amazing place to go for a hike and relax. I will be in Miami in April and hoping to see a few other places in Florida. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Sam H Travels

      I hope you have fun in Miami, will you have time to visit The Everglades ?

      • SecretTraveller

        Thank you! We are in Miami for 5 days, so hoping to visit the Everglades for a day. Is there anything else you would recommend?

  • Melissa Hamilton

    I have been to Florida but not for hiking just the attractions. I am shocked. I never expected the landscape to look how it does with the red dirt and the charred trees. It mimicks the Top End of Australia in many ways. Thanks for putting Tiger Creek on the map. I really would love to do this hike one day.

    • Pete

      Yes, I thought it looked very Australian.

      Ah, one question. Did you find any tigers?

      • Sam H Travels

        Sadly no πŸ™

    • Sam H Travels

      The orange sand road was something I had not seen before in Florida. I can only assume because this road was between orange groves, that it is years of oranges being ground into the sand by trucks, which has changed the sand from white to orange coloured.

  • I must admit I’ve never thought about going hiking in Florida but this looks absolutely amazing! Perhaps now I have an excuse to get to Florida sooner!

    • Sam H Travels

      Yes! I hope it’s the excuse u need πŸ™‚

  • Tiger Creek looks like a great place to hike, and I echo what others have said about it looking like Australia, especially the burnt trees. You are really showing us another side of Florida with your posts so thank you! #feetdotravel

    • Sam H Travels

      This has been my aim for my Florida series πŸ˜‰