back roads Florida

Highlands Hammock State Park

Established in 1935, Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring is one of Florida’s first and oldest State Parks. It is natural old Florida with 9,000 plus acres of cypress swamps, massive oak trees, fern lined trails and wild orange trees scattered about.

9 trails that are all around a 30 minute walk each, take you through a wide variety of plants and trees and over swamps and creeks, giving one the opportunity to see all sorts of Florida creatures, flying, walking, crawling or slithering their way through the old Florida hammock.

We picked a rather chilly Florida January day to go, with temperatures topping out at about 55 degrees. With it being a bit chilly and breezy, the bugs were at a minimum, but I would suggest that if you go on a warm day to apply a good amount of bug spray as in any Florida wooded area, those mosquitoes can be quite pesky. Cooler temperatures are also not ideal conditions to see alligators as we did not view a single one on our visit. The park ranger told us that they were definitely out there, and lots of them, but were probably just hanging out at the bottom of the water to stay warmer. We did encounter a couple of snakes basking in the sun to stay warm, and for this reason I would highly suggest hiking boots for hiking the trails. Parts of the hiking trails are narrow, through thick natural Florida brush and it is very possible that you will come upon a snake. John just about stepped on a non poisonous black racer, however, poisonous snakes are out there, so you do want to take precautions to be safe.

For viewing more remote areas of the park, I would suggest taking the one hour guided tram tour where you will hear about the parks history and have even more opportunity for wildlife viewing. The tram is on a schedule and tickets can be purchased at the camp store at $10.00 per per adult and $5.00 per child. I would recommend stopping at the camp store just past the entrance of the park at the beginning of your visit to check the tram schedule. Also located at the camp store is the bike rental concession, and riding the 3.1 mile loop is also another fun way to view the park. Bike rentals are $ 5-7 per hour. However, please note that bikes are not allowed on the 9 hiking trails and Florida law requires use of bike helmets. Helmets are available for bike renters.

While visiting the camp store also check out the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum and learn about how the CCC camps built a nation. Listen to the “Fireside Chat’ with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and view early films of the parks construction. Entrance to the museum is included in your admission to the park.

Highlands Hammock State Park also has an nicely equipped campground with 159 campsites. Most campsites have water and electric and can accommodate any size rig, however there is no sewer hookup. A dump station is provided for the RV travelers convenience. There are also, restrooms, hot showers and a recreation hall that provides activities for campers. Campsites here are very popular and can be booked up to 11 months in advance. https://www.floridastateparks.org/stay-night

Music in the park events are scheduled throughout the year. Visit the friends of Higlands Hammock State Park Facebook Page for more details and for the 2020 schedule of events.

A large picnic area and playground is located near the camp store, so pack a lunch and spend the day hiking and biking your way through natural Florida.

Admission to Highlands Hammock State Park is a real value at only $6.00 per car load of up to 8 people. Your 4 legged family member is allowed in the park as long as they are on a leash no longer than 6 foot. Dogs however, are not allowed on the boardwalk trails.

Higlands Hammock State Park is located at 5931 Hammock Road in Sebring, Florida, 4 miles west of US HWY 27.

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