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Hickory Lake Scrub

Come experience the magnificent open scrub and lakefront of Hickory Lake Scrub, a jewel of the Lake Wales Ancient Scrub System. Enjoy a stroll on one of the short loop trails on this 57-acre site, which houses an amazing diversity of plants and animals. Some of the beautiful sights that will capture your eye are huge patches of lichens, scrub morning glory, scrub blazing star and many other rare, colorful plants. Once part of a series of islands now called the Lake Wales Ridge, this site is home to many plants and animals that are threatened or endangered, and found nowhere else in the world.

The Hickory Lake Scrub Preserve was purchased in August 1997 from the Green Horizon Land Trust, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving environmentally significant land. This property is now managed by Polk County's Environmental Lands Program. It is part of the Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem and is home to 14 threatened and endangered plant species.



Enjoy a short walking trail that loops through an ancient scrub community where rare plant and animals make their homes. Trail markers help you identify what you're seeing along the way.

Botanist Paradise

The wealth of endangered and threatened plant species that cover the edges of the sugar-sand trail make Hickory Lake Scrub an excellent site for amateur and experienced botanists alike to experience new and rarely seen plants and marvel at Mother Nature's beauty.


Picnic Shelters

Picnic shelters are available.


No restrooms are currently available.


Scrub Trail — (Moderate, Some Shade)

Venture into a variety of unique habitats as this short loop trail takes you through an ancient scrub dune. Step carefully in the deep white sugar sand—it can feel like walking on a beach dune! Rare plants are visible along the trail, which loops down to the edge of Hickory Lake, providing a brief escape from the rugged conditions in the scrub.

Natural Communities


In this natural community that consists mostly of scrubs, the white sand is well-drained and home to many rare plant species. You'll notice that many of the plants have adapted to dry, harsh conditions with their needle-like leaves, or curled and hairy leaves to help conserve moisture. This fire-dependent scrub community covers approximately 25 acres and is home to sand pine trees.

Bay Swamp

In the southern section of the preserve, this habitat has scrubby oak vegetation that drops through a narrow band of cutthroat grass and saw palmetto into a bay swamp with sweetbay, swamp tupelo, red maple and dahoon holly. It has an understory of blue pickerelweed, yellow canna, white lizard's tail and ferns. Streety Creek is on the southern end and flows into the swamp surrounding Lake Livingston.


Dropping quickly from high scrub to lake edge, this area features a mixture of native and exotic grasses and water plants such as pickerel weed, duck potato, and water lily. You'll see plenty of birds if you look toward the cattails and buttonbush just off shore. This is one of many sand-bottomed lakes found on the ridges in Polk County.

Cutthroat Seep

Take in the picturesque, meadow-like view of grass standing about one foot tall, surrounded by sand scrub with tall sand pine trees. Rain soaks the white sand scrub and seeps out again when the land drops to lower elevations. Cutthroat grass typically dominates these areas, but other wildflowers emerge seasonally, providing added color.


Scattered about the site and usually found where land falls from scrub to wetter areas, flatwoods are found in greatest abundance just east of the scrub near the highway. This area is dominated by shrubs, most of which are blueberries or blueberry relatives such as huckleberries, lyonias and tarflowers.

Huckleberry Midland

Several of these areas are scattered about in the site, usually where land falls from sand scrub to wetter areas called bayheads. The largest huckleberry midland area is east of the scrub near the highway. Most of the shrubs are blueberries or blueberry relatives such as huckleberries, lyonias and tarflowers.


This site is home to gopher tortoises, eastern indigo snakes and scrub lizards.

Eastern indigo snake crawling in grass and clover
Eastern Indigo Snake
Full body closeup of a scrub lizard resting on twigs and sand
Scrub Lizard
Side view of a gopher tortoise crawling
Gopher Tortoise


Scrub is characterized as a miniature forest. This prehistoric looking habitat is composed of scrub oaks but most notable is the bright white sugar sand. Sometimes dominated by sand pine, Pinus clausa, it is said to be the oldest community found in Florida. The white sand allows rain water to filter quickly to the aquifer. The understory thickets are composed of scrub oaks, sand live oak, Quercus geminata, myrtle oak Q. myrtifolia and rusty lyonia, Lyonia ferruginea and a variety of lichens. Wildflowers consist of scrub mint Conradina grandiflora and garberia, Garberia heterophylla. This small site has more than a dozen listed plant species, some federally listed.

Driving Directions

Hickory Lake Scrub is located south of Frostproof.

From Lake Wales:

Head south on US 27 approximately 14 miles. Turn east on SR 17 and travel approximately 1.5 miles. There is a paved parking area on the left.

Google Map Directions to Hickory Lake Scrub


1658 S. Scenic Hwy
Frostproof, FL 33843

Hours of Operation
6 a.m. — 6:30 p.m. (Standard Time)
5:30 a.m. — 8 p.m. (Daylight Savings Time)

In This Section

Landscape view of Hickory Lake Scrub with wood bench
Hickory Lake Scrub View
Hickory Lake Scrub trail map
Hickory Lake Scrub Trail