I’m just wrapping up a week in the Keys and couldn’t resist going out for a couple of hikes, never mind this is not the ideal season for it. Without a stiff breeze, the mosquitoes are just plain thick. Here in Marathon, there are two spots for hiking that I’ve never written about before: one because it’s too new, the other because I simply missed it.
The new kid on the block is Curry Hammock State Park, which I’ve seen evolve for the past seven years from an overlook on the Atlantic to a significant camping and canoe launch area, with a chunk of the Overseas Heritage Trail (a paved bicycle trail) passing through it. The Curry Hammock Nature Trail is located 0.8 mile south of the park’s main entrance and is on the bayside. I ventured down the trail as far as my arms could tolerate being covered in mosquitoes, since I ventured off without Deet … a foolish idea this time of year! It’s a 1.5 mile loop with a spur out to Florida Bay, but the best part is the extensive thatch palm hammock that makes you feel like you’re walking in a miniature forest.
Up the road on Key Vaca in the heart of Marathon, right across from the K-Mart with the beautiful Wyland painting, Crane Point Hammock protects 63 acres of tropical hardwood hammock and mangrove marsh while preserving a significant archaeological site and hosting a wild bird rescue. I was there, however, to hike, and my hiking stick came in handy while I worked my way through the spiderwebs along the Palm Hammock Trail. A boardwalk crossed the mangrove marsh in the middle of the preserve, and other shorter trails led through different parts of the preserve. Most folks take the tram or walk the forest roads out to the point, where the Sunset Boardwalk leads out to a beautiful view across Florida Bay. You can walk at least 3 miles through this wild forest, so I highly suggest it for your exploration!