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Hardee County

Hardee County is located in Florida’s Heartland, and like many of the counties in this region, is relatively rural. Hardee County is known for phosphate mining and its primarily agriculture-driven economy, with citrus groves and cattle ranches. The Peace River also winds its way through the county, providing residents and visitors recreational opportunities such as paddling, wildlife viewing, and camping along the Peace River State Paddling Trail. Despite Hardee’s rural nature, small towns like Wauchula, the county seat and a Main Street community, offer visitors small town amenities such as shops and parks in a setting rich with Florida history.

Hardee county map showing trail towns, potential trail towns, and state parks.
Legend for county maps.


Hardee County offers several key amenities that could be accessed via a long-distance multi-use trail. Bowling Green, Zolfo Springs, and Wauchula could serve as future trail towns, with local parks, historic sites, and businesses. Trail users could also access the Peace River via Paynes Creek Historic State Park (Bowling Green), Crews Park (Wauchula), and Pioneer Park (Zolfo Springs) for recreation opportunities and wildlife viewing. Paynes Creek Historic State Park is a Great Florida Birding Trail site.
Hardee County’s amenities also include Hardee Lakes Park in Bowling Green which provides opportunities for hiking, biking, and camping. Outdoor recreation destinations like this would be important sites to either determine the routing of the regional trail system or serve as important spur connections. Agritourism is highlighted in Hardee County’s visitor information, and citrus groves, cattle ranches, and other farmlands would contribute to a pastoral aesthetic for the trail in this area. Paynes Creek Historic State Park and Pioneer Park/Cracker Trail Museum are sites on the Florida Seminole Wars Heritage Trail. These elements collectively suggest the opportunities that could be leveraged to provide a trail user experience and connectivity to a broader regional trail system.

Example Destinations in Hardee County


Hardee County offers a rural setting and picturesque opportunities for outdoor recreation and tourism. Based upon Office of Greenways and Trails data from the 2019 Statewide Conservation Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), Hardee County has the lowest total outdoor recreation spending – $3.6 million – among the counties in the study area. This may be related to availability of recreational opportunities and the county’s lower population. However, it suggests the potential for expanding opportunities that might build upon the presence of a regional trail. The figures below summarize the annual spending by residents and tourists in Hardee County for activities typically associated with a multi-use trail, based on the SCORP.

The Total Outdoor Recreation Spending is $3.7M in Hardee County

Graphic showing Hardee county demographics.
Graphic showing resident and visitor spending for fitness walking, biking, hiking, and wildlife viewing for Hardee County.