SUMICA is the largest of Polk County's Environmental Lands and an excellent place to take gorgeous nature pictures, or ride your bike. Boasting an expanse of pine flatwoods, the land also supports a diversity of marshes and a picturesque oak hammock. If you climb up to the former railroad bed that runs through the SUMICA property and rises six feet above the landscape, you'll have a great shaded vantage point of the countryside. This 4,031-acre tract sits on the shore of Lake Weohyakapka.
Why is the name "SUMICA" in capital letters? It stands for Societe Universelle Mining Industrie, Commerce et Agriculture, a French company that had timber rights to the land. The town of SUMICA, established in 1917, thrived on lumbering and turpentine. After the pines were harvested, the town vanished in 1927, and its remnants now comprise a modern-day ghost town. A former Seaboard Air Line Railway bed runs through the property. Polk County and the South Florida Water Management District acquired this property in February 1999 to preserve its important ecological resources and its cultural history. SUMICA is home to at least 12 species of rare plants and animals.
The hiking trail is elevated and stabilized and provides a nice bicycle ride to the observation dock at the trail's end.
A designated trail for horseback riding and parking are available. Call (863) 534-7377 to obtain a special-use permit.
Capture beautiful landscape scenes and photos of wading birds in the enormous marsh.
A fire ring and designated area in the oak hammock are provided. There is no water or electricity, and you must bring your own tent. To obtain a special-use permit for this activity, call (863) 534-7377.
One picnic shelter is located near the Lake Marion creek shoreline, available on a first come, first serve basis.
Portable restrooms are available at the entrance.
Paved parking is available.
Hiking Trail — (2.1 miles roundtrip, No Shade)
This trail passes through open flatwoods as it approaches an old railroad bed that was established in the late 1920s. The trail heads south on this railroad bed grade, providing an elevated view of the surrounding landscape. The trail ends at the observation area.
Equestrian Trail — (4.8 miles roundtrip, No Shade)
This trail veers to the north through the flatwoods and meanders through the property past a variety of natural communities, including marsh and prairie.
Campsite Trail — (2.2 miles roundtrip, Some Shade)
This out and back trail passes through a shallow depression marsh and leads to the northern property boundary. This trail starts on the former railroad bed, which rises six feet above the landscape. It then drops down to the ground through flatwoods before ending at the campsite in the oak hammock.
Covering more than 550 acres, several of these marshes provide a picturesque view of maidencane, pickerelweed, duck potato, patches of sawgrass and button bush.
This wetland typically contains bay tree, dahoon holly and a mix of other hardwood trees.
At SUMICA, the scattered depression marshes cover about 500 acres and contain mainly maidencane and pickerelweed.
Located along Lake Walk-in-Water Creek, this habitat contains some cypress, tupelo and black gum, oaks and red maple.
This area is located near Lake Walk-in-Water Creek and lacks the trees of the floodplain swamp community. Look for maidencane, sagittaria, pickerelweed, buttonbush and other low-growing plants that like wet soil.
About 40 percent of SUMICA is covered in mesic flatwoods. This community contains slash pine and longleaf pine with saw palmetto, gallberry shrubs, wiregrass and flowering plants.
Upland Mixed Forest
Located near the lake's shoreline, this forest has a mixture of oaks and pines, along with a few shrubs and grasses.
These flatwoods contain slash pine and a rare longleaf pine in the mesic flatwoods. Scattered throughout are cabbage palm and many varieties of grasses.
This habitat consists of maidencane, spikrush, St. John's wort, pitcher plants and mixed herbaceous plants with no trees.
You may see a variety of birds, including bald eagles, sandhill cranes, wild turkeys, falcon and wading birds. Also look for deer, bobcats, fox, gopher tortoises and some occasional bear tracks.
SUMICA is located in eastern Polk County and consists of pine flatwoods, saw grass prairie and live oak hammock. Pine flatwoods is characterized by longleaf pine, Pinus palustris in central Florida or slash pine, Pinus elliottii in south Florida and an understory predominantly of saw palmetto, Serenoa repens. The pines are shade intolerant and require fire to maintain the system. Pine flatwoods also have a hardpan 8 to 10 feet below the surface. Flowering plants found in the system are Florida alicia, Chapmannia floridana, blazing star, Liatris spp., deer-tongue, Carphephorus paniculatus. The live oak hammock forms a canopy and is dominated by live oaks, Quercus virginiana and their epiphytes spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, resurrection fern, Pleopeltis polypodioides and butterfly orchid, Encyclia tampensis and the terristerial plant beggerweed, Desmodium incanum. The saw grass prairie extends from the central part of the state all the way to the everglades. The dominant plant is saw grass, but cabbage palm, Sabal palmetto, hammocks may dot the landscape. When the prairie is wet one may find Sagittaria spp. and when the prairie is dry, cattails may invade.
SUMICA is located between Lake Wales and Indian Lake Estates.
From Lake Wales:
Drive east on State Road 60 for about 10 miles. The entrance is on the south side of the road just before State Road 60 turns into a two-lane road.
14020 State Road 60
Lake Wales, FL 33898
Hours of Operation
6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Standard Time)
5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Daylight Savings Time)