Delving deep into a hardwood hammock with towering trees, the loop trail at Fickett Hammock Preserve quickly immerses you into a shady forest of botanical beauty.
Trailhead: 28.613875, -82.468750
Address: 15482 Centralia Rd, Brooksville
Length: 1.2 mile inner loop, 2.4 miles for both loops
Land Manager: Hernando County
Open daily from dawn to dusk. Day use only.
On the south side of Centralia Road just west of its T intersection with Citrus Way and east of the Suncoast Parkway overpass.
Look for the blazes leading into the forest where the fenceline ends along the south side of the parking area. Blazed in a bright reddish-orange, the trail immediately slips into the deep shade of a hardwood forest.
Beautyberry lends bright purple to an otherwise green understory, where the broad leaves of large Southern magnolias catch the sun. Passing a side trail to the east that looks like an old road, continue straight. The forest becomes denser before you arrive at the base of a massive oak tree.
As the trail zigzags beneath the tree canopy, the understory becomes crowded with saw palmetto and more tall trees rise well overhead. When you reach a bridge, the trail splits. Keep left to follow the inner loop, as we did. The trail continues within sight and sound of an ephemeral waterway -- the one the bridge crossed -- and may be tricky to follow in places. Look for the beaten path.
The trail rises up into sandhills before drawing close to a nice overlook on the waterway. The loop continues through the oak and pine forest, with a nice layer of pine needles underfoot, before emerging into a grassy corridor that would have been the entrance to a subdivision had Hernando County not stepped in and saved this unique natural area. You complete the inner loop after 1.2 miles.