The quiet, lesser-known side of Long Key State Park is the bay side of Long Key, a mostly-undisturbed and undeveloped fringe of mangroves and tropical hammocks along Florida Bay.
The Layton Trail leads you on a quarter-mile exploration of these habitats, emerging at a showy spot on Florida Bay.
Location: Long Key
Length: 0.2 mile
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug Factor: moderate to annoying
Restroom: yes, at the trailhead
Expect mosquitoes; use insect repellant. Do not touch oozing tree bark in the tropical hammock—there are poisonwood trees scattered throughout the hammock
From the main entrance to Long Key State Park, drive north on US 1 for 0.6 mile (just past MM 68) for the trailhead on the left at the “Layton Trail” sign; park on the shoulder.
The Layton Trail makes a loop through a shady tropical hardwood hammock, past thatch palms, gumbo limbo, pigeon plum, and poisonwood. Keep to the left at the loop junction to head out to the limestone edge of Florida Bay. Turn right and walk along the shoreline, which is thick in dried grasses and debris.
At an interpretive marker, the trail turns to the right to re-enter the tropical hammock to complete the loop. You may enjoy a sweeping view of Florida Bay where the trail emerges from the tropical hammock to the shoreline.