It tunneling into the deep shade of the Key Largo Hammock, a tropical forest that once covered most of the uplands of this island.
By doing so, the Wild Tamarind Trail provides you a close-up look at the trees and shrubs that make up this not-so-common forest.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Key Largo
Length: 0.3 mile loop
Trailhead: 25.1254, -80.4072
Address: MM 102.5 Overseas Highway, Key Largo
Fees: $2.50 cyclist or hiker, $4.50 individual in vehicle, $8.50 per vehicle (2-8 people). Includes per-person Monroe County surcharge
Restroom: At the concession area
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset daily. Leashed dogs welcome but not at beach. Both campsites and docking slips are available for overnight stays. Reserve online.
Bicycles are not permitted on the trail. Leashed pets welcome. Please stay within the marked path to avoid brushing into any poisonwood, which is found in this forest.
While this is a short trail, we do suggest you apply insect repellent before walking it, as these are habitats that mosquitoes tend to dwell in.
The park is at MM 102.5 along the ocean side of the Overseas Highway (US 1) in Key Largo. As the park entrance road curves into the main parking area, take the first right and park by the picnic pavilion. The trailhead for the Wild Tamarind Trail is just behind it. See the trail map at the bottom of this page for the exact location.
If you walk over from the visitor center, make sure to take a peek at the Native Plant Garden on the way over. We found many of the less-common native trees of the Florida Keys planted here, and they were in full bloom in June.
Its namesake tree, the wild tamarind, is one of dozens of native trees to this tropical hammock, Caribbean trees and shrubs that naturalized in the Florida Keys well before modern settlement.
The interpretive trail walks you through the forest, pointing out specific trees like gumbo-limbo with its peeling red bark, Jamaica caper, mastic, crabwood, and many others.
Take your time and browse the interpretive information to learn about this fascinating natural habitat.
Start your hike by heading straight ahead behind the Wild Tamarind Trail sign, passing a kiosk on your left. The trail curves past a bench to enter the tropical hammock.
Stay within the confines of the footpath, outlined by chunks of limestone from this hammock. Shot through with solution holes, it is the natural coral bedrock of the Florida Keys.
At a fork in the trail with a bench off to the right, stay left.
The trail makes a gentle curve to the right and some traffic noise filters in from US 1.
Look carefully at the trunks of smooth-barked trees like the Jamaican dogwood and you may spot a colorful liguus tree snail inching its way along the trunk.
The trail makes a curve beneath some taller tropical trees like mahogany and you hear cars on the entrance road into the park.
Watch for a flutter of wings in the canopy, as endangered white-crowned pigeons make their home here, as do mourning doves and a variety of songbirds.
Passing a bench perched on coral rock, the trail completes the loop.
Pass a bench again on your way out of the tropical forest. As you exit the trail, look to the right at the kiosk. That pathway connects over to the park’s campground.
You can double your mileage by following this footpath down towards the campground and back to here. Near the campground, walk down to the tidal pond, where herons may be fishing.
Learn more about John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
See our photos of the Grove Trail
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
If you’ve ever wondered where Key limes came from, take a walk on the 0.5-mile Grove Trail at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to see of one of the historic groves of Key Largo.
On the interpretive Key Largo Hammock Nature Trail, tunnel into the largest tropical forest in the United States to enjoy its natural beauty while learning about its unusual trees
At Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, enjoy the island’s bounty of National Champion tropical trees from the 2.4 mile loop of the Port Bougainville Trail