It’s time to hit the dusty trail in Polk

Orlando Sentinel – October 04, 2007
By Amy L. Edwards

Polk County is home to more than 125 miles of trails, and several of them will be featured in a program designed to encourage residents and visitors to experience the outdoors.

The Trek Ten Trails program, developed by the Friends of the Parks foundation, will debut Saturday at the Fort Fraser Trailhead in Highland City.

The Fort Fraser Trail will be featured in the first of 10 organized treks through next September in the innovative program that also features geocaching.

Geocaching is an international treasure-hunting game where players use Global Positioning Systems to find hidden geocache boxes. Geocache boxes typically contain a logbook and trinkets left behind by other visitors.

Organizers hope the Trek Ten Trails program will help address "nature deficit disorder" and get people off their couches.

They also hope that geocaching will encourage children and those who are savvy about technology to visit Polk's paved and unpaved walking trails.

"It's really good for you to get outdoors," said Friends of the Parks member Glenda Mink.

Program participants will receive a journal, and at each geocache box, they will "validate" the journal by stamping it.

Each journal will give directions to find the geocache boxes for participants who don't have GPS.

Even though there are organized dates for the various treks, which range from Crooked Lake Prairie to the Lake Hollingsworth trail, participants can walk the trails and validate their journals any time they want.

Although Trek Ten Trails may appeal to Polk County residents, tourism officials hope the program will also attract visitors from outside the area.

Mark Jackson, director of Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, said Trek Ten Trails will be a strong addition to the nature-based tourism activities the county already offers.

"I think it's one of the most unique experiences. There's stuff you can only see, experience right here," he said.

Amy L. Edwards can be reached at aledwards@orlandosentinel.comor 407-931-5946.

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