Lady Liberty towers above Big Tree Park, a forest of ancient trees in this corner of Spring Hammock Preserve.
A short interpretive boardwalk will wow you with the wonders of numerous trees, including one more than a thousand years old.
Located right along the Cross Seminole Trail bike path, which is the Florida Trail route through urban Seminole County, it’s a must-stop for hikers and cyclists, not just for the trees but for restrooms and a picnic area.
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Length: 0.3 mile round-trip
Trailhead: 28.720417, -81.331533
Address: 761 General Hutchinson Parkway, Longwood
Restroom: At the trailhead
Land manager: Seminole County
Open 8 AM to sunset. Gates locked at closing time, which is posted.
This small park has restrooms, picnic tables, a playground, and a boardwalk through the floodplain forest to showcase the spectacular trees.
From US 17-92 in Winter Springs, take General Hutchinson Parkway west for 1 mile to the park entrance on the left. The park is between US 17-92 and SR 427 in Longwood.
Leaving the parking area, you pass a clone of The Senator, “the” Big Tree and the reason Big Tree Park exists in the first place.
As old Florida postcards can attest, Big Tree Park has been a major tourist attraction for decades.
Named for Senator M.O. Overstreet, who donated this massive cypress and the land around it to the people of Seminole County, the tree towered more than 129 feet tall.
That is only 2/3 of the height it stood when it was a regional landmark for Indians and settlers passing through the region.
Like most big trees, its top came off during a hurricane — the 1925 hurricane that spilled Lake Okeechobee into the towns that surrounded it.
Along the entrance boardwalk, notice the boards beneath your feet showing just how tall The Senator once was.
Interpretive signs help explain the age of that grand cypress and the other massive trees in this corner of Spring Hammock.
An observation deck adjoins the historic marker and charred remains of The Senator. Unfortunately, on January 16, 2012, this living icon was destroyed by an arsonist.
Continue around the corner to Lady Liberty, a massive cypress in its own right.
Now the queen of the forest, Lady Liberty is tall enough that only a panoramic view can capture its stature. You will crane your neck to see the tops of the trees.
Passing by the remains of The Senator again, continue back along the boardwalk to the parking area past a clone of The Senator.
Notice the ingenuous playground in the center island of the park, which lets kids play inside a faux cypress trunk.
The park is a part of the larger Spring Hammock Preserve, where there are more ancient cypress hidden in the woods along their trail system.
You can walk or bike through Spring Hammock Preserve on the Cross Seminole Trail, which is also a part of the Florida National Scenic Trail in this area.
This is a good place to leave a car while day hiking or biking this segment of the trail through Spring Hammock Preserve.
However, park gates close at dusk, so make sure you return in time or your car will be locked inside.
See our video of Big Tree Park
See our historic photos of Big Tree Park
Or look at our more recent photos of Big Tree Park, minus the Senator, on Flickr
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
In this wilderness area along the shores of Lake Jesup, plunge right in for a hike through a parade of wetland wildflowers in the St. Johns River floodplain