Favorite Riding Area: Marshall Hampton Reserve

Marshall Hampton Reserve
3115 Thornhill Road
Winter Haven, FL 33880
Phone: (863) 534-7377
https://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/marshall-hampton-reserve 

Things to know:

  • Hours of operation: Daily from 6am to 6:30 p.m. during standard time and 5:30am to 8 pm during daylight savings time.
  • An annual free permit, available from the Polk County Natural Resources Dept., is required for equestrians. Call (863) 534-7377 with your driver’s license number, horse’s name and date of current Coggins.
  • Equestrian parking is through the gate immediately in front of you after turning into the Reserve’s driveway.
  • A port-a-potty is available.
  • NO water is available. Consider bringing some in your trailer.
  • All trails are open to horses.
    • Osprey Overlook Loop trail (2 miles) is in full sun on a berm that circles the small lake.
    • The Acorn Hammock Loop Trail (3 miles) is accessed off the Osprey Overlook trail, and is fully shaded.
    • Panther Point Trail (10.5 miles round trip) is also accessed off the Osprey Overlook Trail. It is a wide berm around Lake Hancock, and will eventually be open all the way to U.S. 98 (NOTE: horse people will still have to enter through Marshall Hampton. There will be NO parking along U.S. 98). A fairly long bridge with a rocky surface is at the 2.5 mile mark. After Irma, the trail is now mostly sunny.
  • Trails are well marked and maintained, and staff is very responsive to concerns and reports of trail issues.
  • Sign in and get a map at the kiosk to the east of the trail entrance. Since usage statistics are used in deciding funding and improvements, please sign in each time. The more documented equestrian use, the better chance we have to retain access.
  • Wildlife: One of the best areas to view water birds and raptors, especially in winter when birds are migrating. Panther Point can literally have dozens of alligators in the water and along the trail. Also turtles, raccoons, snakes, armadillos and opossums. And an occasional cow.

Cautions:

  • Beware the alligators when riding Panther Point. Most will run from horses except during breeding season, but they can scare horses when they move suddenly.
  • During the summer biting flies can be intolerable on the Acorn Loop. Panther Point often has hordes of non-biting blind mosquitoes.
  • One has to pass through 2 electric gates (buttons are either on the fence or freestanding pole at horseback level) and an active cattle lease to reach the Panther Point trail.
  • The Acorn Loop Trail can flood badly in wet weather.

Marshall Hampton Reserve 2017

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