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sign at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park

Sign at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park. Photo: Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

An expansive nature and wildlife preserve lies along the ancient sand dunes of Lake Wales Ridge in Polk County, Florida. This 8,000 acre preserve, Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park, is located only 54 miles west of Orlando and 76 miles east of Tampa.

Sandy peaks, scrub, flatwoods, ponds and marshland create ideal conditions for hiking, horseback riding, fishing, wildlife viewing and picnicking at this Florida state park.

The preserve, named for wildlife biologist Allen David Broussard, is dedicated to preserving, protecting and conserving nature and wildlife. Because Allen Broussard strove to protect as much of native Florida as possible for future generations to enjoy, his work is continued through a conservancy in his name.

Activities

This unique state park showcases rustic Florida scrub land, native plants and wildlife. Visitors to this pristine and rustic preserve will be awed by their experience – what life was like hundreds, even thousands of years ago in this mostly untouched area.

When planning your visit, whether it be for a few hours or a few days, be sure to make a note to bring plenty of water, snacks and sunblock. The park’s rugged terrain and exposed trails are gorgeous but brutal during the warmer months.

Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your visit to Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park:

Hiking at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park

Explore the 6 miles of trails that extend through the park’s rugged environment and scrub habitat of scrub, flatwoods, pine, ponds, marshland and steep sandy ridges. These trails are part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, a 1,500 mile hiking trail that extends across Florida from Big Cypress National Preserve to the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Here are two of the hiking trails inside Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park:

  • Catfish Creek Short Loop – This easy 1.9 mile loop follows a sandy path through the park’s flatlands, past dunes and wildflowers.
  • Catfish Creek Long Loop – Moderate 5.8 mile loop across hills, through the pine woods and around several small lakes.

Horseback Riding at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park

Bring your horse(s) for a relaxing day out in the country. The park has 8 miles of trails that are ideal for horseback riding. Visitors must carry a negative Coggins report for each horse brought into the park.

Fishing at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park

Fishing is allowed in several ponds throughout Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park. You may catch largemouth bass, crappie, rainbow trout, minnow, brown trout, blue tilapia, chinook salmon, chub, ide and bluegill.

Be sure to pick up a Florida fishing license before heading out to fish at the park.

Birding at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park

Bird lovers will be in awe of the many species that they may see inside the preserve. Common sightings include wood duck, American Robin, Northern Bobwhite, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Great Blue Heron, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American White Pelican, Florida Scrub Jay. Don’t forget to pack your binoculars and bird list!

Nature and Wildlife at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park

Discover birds, lizards, turtles, snakes, armadillos, alligators, raccoons, rabbits, wild boar and many other wildlife species during your visit to Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park.

The unique landscape inside the preserve and around Lake Wales Ridge contains steep sandy ridges that resemble snowy peaks and rare plants such as scrub morning glory, scrub plum, cutthroat grass and pygmy fringe trees.

Pets at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park

Well behaved pets are allowed at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve, everywhere except inside park buildings. Dogs must be kept on a handheld leash no longer than 6 feet.

Camping at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park

The preserve offers 2 primitive tent or hammock campsites for guests who don’t mind roughing it for a night or two.

Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring and is accessible by foot (site #1 is 1.7 miles from the parking lot and site #2 is 3.5 miles from the parking area). A clivus toilet is available near the parking area.

These sites are available by reservation only and campers should display their camp registration slip inside their vehicle to prevent being towed. When planning your overnight excursion inside the park make sure you pack everything that you will need: food, water, bugspray, sunblock, compass, map and personal items.

Park Location

Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park
4335 Firetower Rd
Haines City, FL 33844
Phone: 863.696.1112

Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park: