Set apart from the other trails in Highlands Hammock State Park, this trail is primarily for the enjoyment of folks making use of the full-service campground.
It is not in the hammock like the other hikes, but shares the same habitats as the 6-mile off-road bike path that loops this portion of park closest to the front gate.
Pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, and scrub are intersected by a ribbon of bayhead along this gentle walk.
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Length: 0.6 mile loop
Trailhead: 27.4732, -81.5304
Address: 5931 Hammock Rd, Sebring
Fees: $6 per vehicle
Restroom: At the picnic area and concession
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset. Leashed dogs welcome. No bicycles, please.
Follow US 27 south from Avon Park or north from Lake Placid to Hammock Rd (CR 634) in Sebring, at a traffic light with prominent signage. Turn west and follow the road into the park. The entrance station is on the passenger’s side, and a bike path parallels the road to the park.
If you are staying in the campground, simply walk to site 115, at the east side of the campground, to find the trailhead. If not, park at the Hammock Inn / picnic area just past and across the road from the campground. Walk over to the campground entrance and past the dump station. Turn right at the “105-137” sign. Just past site 114, watch for the trailhead on the right side of the road. It’s a quarter mile walk each way, so parking by the Hammock Inn extends your hike to 1.6 miles.
The trail starts out through a stretch of pine flatwoods dominated by younger pines, as the older ones were felled almost two decades ago by a southern pine bark beetle infestation.
A dense thicket of saw palmetto makes up the understory. Scattered sand live oaks provide a middle canopy.
A green anole vanishes under a saw palmetto frond as you approach the bridge. Cross the bridge, and you’re at the start of the trail loop. Turn right.
Winged sumac and loblolly bay rise through the mass of saw palmetto. The purple blooms of a paintbush attract a zebra swallowtail.
As the trail gains a little elevation, the footpath becomes sandy underfoot. Curving left, the trail reveals a large number of bay trees on your right, forming a bayhead.
Walking down a corridor defined by tall walls of gallberry, you reach a clearing with several benches at 0.3 mile.
The trail curves left, and you start to see campers in the distance as you come back around the loop.
Showing off its beautiful rusty autumn leaves, cinnamon fern stands out against the gallberry under the pines. Passing another bench, you see an eastern fence lizard.
Curving away from the campground momentarily, the trail continues through a shoulder-high corridor of saw palmetto.
After 0.5 mile, you complete the loop. Cross over the bridge and follow the footpath back out to the campground road, completing your 0.6-mile walk.
Learn more about Highlands Hammock State Park
See our photos of Highlands Hammock State Park
More trails to explore in this park
Three interconnected nature trails on the east side of Highlands Hammock – Wild Orange Grove, Big Oak, and Hickory – provide a gentle introduction to this wild place
Burrowing deeper into the swamps than the adjoining Fern Garden Trail, the Richard Lieber Memorial Trail spans from an enormous oak to a wonderland of wet
Walk beneath immense oaks and pines on the Young Hammock Trail at Highlands Hammock State Park, a half-mile nature trail that showcases the succession of habitats
Teeter-tottering above a swamp, experience a stretch of old-time catwalk through the cypress swamp on the Cypress Boardwalk at Highlands Hammock State Park
At Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring, the Ancient Hammock Trail shows off the glory of towering cabbage palms and live oaks centuries old