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Lake Wales Ridge - Things to Do

Enjoy a range of recreational activities on the Royce, Lake Placid Scrub and Carter Creek tracts.


hunter with gun

Hunting is approved only on the Royce Unit with opportunities for small game, wild hogs, turkey and deer. Dove hunting occurs seasonally on four dove fields. Visit the Dove Hunting page to find out the latest information on these and other FWC dove fields across the state. Check both of the regulations summary brochures for the Royce Unit and the Public Small Game Hunting Area before you visit.

If you see a sick or abnormally thin deer or deer dead of unknown causes, please report its location to the CWD hotline, (866) CWD-WATCH (293-9282).


man holding a large bass

Fish from the lakeshore on the Lake Placid Scrub tract for largemouth bass, redear sunfish, and bluegill among other fish. Two public boat ramps developed by FWC and managed by Highlands County are also available on Lake Istokpoga, a large and popular sport fishing lake bordering the Royce Unit. Access to these ramps is located outside of Lake Wales Ridge WEA. Carry appropriate licenses and permits.

Wildlife Viewing

person viewing wildlife from observation tower

The threatened Florida scrub-jay is relatively common on some of the WEA tracts, including the Lake Placid Scrub tract, Carter Creek tract and Royce Unit. Look for wading birds along the shores of the lakes and ponds. Visit the Wildlife page for more information about the area's wildlife.

Hiking and Bicycling

man hiking on trail

Please note: The bridge at the Lake Placid Scrub Unit is currently closed and the blue and green trails are inaccessible.

Hiking trails are located on the Royce Unit, Lake Placid Scrub Tract (includes a viewing platform) and the Carter Creek Tract. On other sites, hiking is allowed but there are no trails. Bicycling is allowed on all sites but is limited by deep sand, or lack of trails and roads. Bicycles may be used only on firebreaks and named or numbered roads. Download the trail guide for the Royce Unit or the trail map for Lake Placid Scrub Tract.

Horseback Riding

group riding horses

The rules for horseback riding vary by location on Lake Wales Ridge WEA:

Royce Unit

Horseback riding is prohibited during all periods open to hunting. At other times during the year, horseback riding is allowed on the Royce Unit only on firebreaks and named and numbered roads.

Lake Placid Scrub Tract and Carter Creek Tract

Horseback riding is permitted in the western and central areas of the Lake Placid Scrub Tract and the southern portion of the Carter Creek Tract. Horseback riding requires a Special-Use Permit. Apply for the permit on FWC’s Special Use-Other Permit page. Permits are not approved at the same time of the application; please plan your trip accordingly and apply ahead of time. Horse trailer parking is available only at the Carter Creek Tract.

Ridge Rangers

volunteers at work

Ridge Rangers are volunteers who help FWC staff protect the Lake Wales Ridge’s rare plants and animals. This active organization helps restore wildlife habitat with regular workdays and also provides education and outreach support.