Sunday, April 4, 2010
Re-visiting The Scenic Highway
The road is known simply as the "Scenic Highway" -- a mini-roller-coaster of pavement along the Lake Wales Ridge that meanders around lakes and orange orchards, sub-divisions and small towns with buildings showing colorful murals of "Cracker Cowboys" and old-time Florida.
State Road 17 runs along the north-south spine of Polk County, gently s-curving its way through small cities like Dundee, Lake Wales, Babson Park and Frostproof.
I visit it once or twice a year after Andrew Young, a Trek central-Florida rep, introduced me to the Scenic Highway about three years ago for a bicycle travel story I wrote for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.
On Saturday, I renewed the cycling rite and enjoyed the road, which offers a glimpse of old-time Florida from Dundee to Frostproof -- about 25 miles or so. Drive to Winter Haven and then take State Road 542 from Winter Haven to Dundee to pick up the Scenic Highway.
You'll see rows of orange trees next to subdivisions next to open fields next to rickety houses and old trailer parks. The road offers some hills and vistas, and some funny signs, too.