This park is closed due to extensive damage to the Florida Keys from Hurricane Irma.
While John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is known for its offshore delights, its onshore amenities are not as well known. Two nature trails provide places to explore as you wait for a guided trip or relax after setting up your tent at the campground. The Wild Tamarind Trail starts and ends nearest the campground, not far from the main visitor center, and provides an up close look at a tropical hammock. Pay close attention along this quarter-mile loop to the tree limbs and trunks for the most common form of wildlife in this part of the park, a rare species known as Liguus, the tree snail.
Location: Key Largo
Length: 0.25 mile
Fees: state park entrance fee
Bug Factor: moderate
Restroom: yes, near visitor center
The park also offers the accessible 3/4-mile-long Mangrove Trail.
MM 102.5 on US 1, Key Largo. Drive in on the park entrance road and turn right at the fork. Park your car on the right adjacent to the trailhead.
The Wild Tamarind Trail is a brief but beautiful introduction to a dark and shady tropical hardwood hammock, dense with gumbo limbo, torchwood, crabwood, mastic, and other denizens of the West Indian forest, Caribbean trees and shrubs that naturalized in the Florida Keys well before modern settlement. Outlined by limestone chunks, the trail snakes around solution holes and past large trees, creating a loop. Small tags identify the various plants along the route. Look carefully at the tree limbs and trunks as you walk the loop; you may spy a liguus tree snail feeding. A side trail leads to the right to end at the campground; walk down the trail to check out the tidal pond, where herons may be fishing.