trail closed

Much of the popular Alligator Alley footpath bordering Lake Hancock at Polk County’s Circle B Bar Reserve has been closed because alligators are nesting on the edge of the trail.

The trail was closed for safety reasons and isn’t expected to reopen for at least three months, time for the young gators to hatch and begin growing, Polk County natural resources director Jeff Spence said.

The neighboring Rabbit Marsh Run is often closed in the summer — it was put off limits about six weeks ago following reports of gator cannibalism — but this is the first time Alligator Alley has closed since the nature reserve opened to the public about 10 years ago.

[box]Update: On June 28, county officials announced that a portion of the trail connecting Circle B with the Fort Fraser Trail is being closed because of another alligator nest. The map below has been updated.[/box]

Visitors can still hike along the northern portion of the trail to an observation dock on Lake Hancock, and most of the other trails remain open.

circle b trail closure map

Over the weekend, nature photographers posted photos and video of alligators along the trail to a Circle B – Polk Nature Discovery Center Facebook page, showing the nest and gators crossing the path.

The former cattle ranch has become a destination for thousands of bird watchers and nature lovers, drawn by a diversity of wildlife.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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