Perfect Day at Circle B Bar Reserve


Perfect Day at Circle B Bar Reserve with the OLLI-USF Outdoors “Hikers”

The OLLI-USF Outdoors “hikers” explored one of their favorite places, Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, on a beautiful day in March. We would like to share it in words, but mostly pictures, with OLLI Connects readers.

If you are looking for a great place to take your out-of-town visitors, or just go for a stroll to take in amazing wildlife, this is the place to go. One of our members, Sheryl, wrote, “With the exception of the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, Circle B Bar had the biggest variety of wildlife I’ve seen of all my hikes in Florida.”

What will you see? In many places you will see birds on the left, birds on the right. You might see a great blue heron and gator face off.

Birds walk right up to us and keep “in step.” Huge (and we do mean huge) alligators eye us suspiciously from beside the trail. And often walk right in front of us. Wildlife is magical and multi-colored – reds, blues, violets and greens – often in the same species like the Painted Bunting.

You will easily see all kinds of herons and egrets, bald eagles, egrets, raccoons, gators, gallinules, songbirds and more.

Trails are between .2 and 1 mile, well-marked and descriptively named.

Wildlife evidently do not read the signs! We saw Bald Eagles on Marsh Rabbit Run, herons on Eagles Roost, alligators on Wading Bird Way, and herons, egrets, racoons, and snakes on Alligator Alley!

Words alone don’t do justice to this place, so we hope you are delighted with the photos in the slide shows that our OLLI Connects editors made for us.

Thank you for viewing!

Our feathered friends: waders and high flyers


Scenic and group photos

Photographers: Bridget Harris, Mike Hayes, Nancy Shivers, Pat Simmons, Donna McGrew, Larry Weatherby, Diane White, Nancy Wisgerhof, Zoe Trautman

About: The OLLI-USF Outdoors is a shared interest group (SIG) who enjoy the outdoors and have many talents and interests, including photography, bird watching, biking, and sharing. For information about OLLI Outdoors, email the SIG leaders.


  • We had a TERRIFIC time” – Pat and Mike
  • “With the exception of the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, Circle B Bar had the biggest variety of wildlife I’ve seen of all my hikes in Florida.” – Sheryl
  • “Thanks for setting up the hike to Circle B Bar – it was everything and more than people said it would be. As I was leaving the parking lot, I saw three Kites fly over – beautiful! I had a great time!” – Zoe
  • “It was fun!” – Nancy

If you visit: Well worth the drive, Circle B Bar Reserve is on the northwest shore of Lake Hancock. The reserve boasts a wide variety of plants and animals. You can see several distinct ecosystems in this reserve of 1,267 acres. Entrance and parking are free. Take time to tour the Discovery Center and gift shop too.

Diane White, MA, PMP, earned advanced degrees in information technologies from George Washington University and education from USF.  She has been managing projects for over 25 years in the information technology and telecommunications industries.  She joined OLLI-USF in 2008 and has taken OLLI courses in art, art appreciation, architecture, music, great books, science, nature, literature, and leadership.  She is a member of OLI’s Tech Squad, teaches a variety of technology courses, She is an OLLI Roll of Honor Instructor and is OLLI Connects’ technology contributor and consultant.

8 Replies to “Perfect Day at Circle B Bar Reserve”

  1. The hike was wonderful. Thank you so much for organizing the outings! You do an amazing job!!!

  2. I love Circle B here in Lakeland, a local field trip location for school kids. I go with my grandkids who have grown up with the place and love it as well. My husband, their grandfather and a war veteran, finds the place as spooky as some of his walks through the jungles of Vietnam. I think it’s the hanging moss that’s everywhere. or the sound of the wind in an ancient landscape where dinosaurs roamed, or the gigantic alligators featured on YouTube, worldwide famous from our part of Florida. I’m just saying, there’s another way of looking at a trip to Circle B. My husband is laughing as I write this. “Tell them I shudder when I see young parents strolling their babies down towards Alligator Alley. “

    1. Hi Liesse, you bring up some great points. The hanging moss certainly adds to the atmosphere which part of the old Florida look. I am not a fan of alligators (just ask any of the hikers) and give them a wide berth. However I know many people, especially our newer residents and tourist, find them fascinating.
      Thank you for your lovely comment.

  3. I’m convinced: We’ll put Circle B Bar Reserve on our itinerary for when we move to the area in the fall. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I know you will enjoy it. Watch out for the alligators. When we say they are huge, we really mean it!
      Thank you for reading our blog and sharing your comment.

  4. Wonderful read and great photos. Amazing professional shots of the birds and gators!
    I will go to Circle B after the summer.

    1. Thank you. OLLI hikers will go again, probably next February. Watch for our event news and save the date!

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