Highland Hammocks State Park

Highland Hammocks State Park is a great destination whether you are visiting for an afternoon, a day, or camping, with numerous activities and trails.

Highland Hammock State Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Norman on December 24, 2005

I had the pleasure of spending the weekend camping at Highland Hammocks State Park. Sebring, Florida, a little southwest of the center of the state. The 2,730 acre park is a great destination whether you are visiting for an afternoon, a day, or camping. The nine short trails, each less than a 35 minute walk, are easily accessible off of a 3 mile Loop Drive.

There is a large family campground, each site having water and electricity, a primitive campground, a restaurant (try the sour orange ice cream), the Florida Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, a ranger guided tram tour, picnic areas, and plenty of space to ride bicycles. For equestrians, there is an 11 mile trail.

Read each journal to get my personal perspectives of this wonderful place that truly has retained the flora and fauna of Florida as it existed many years ago. Even if you have seen many areas of Florida, visit Highland Hammocks State Park.

Contact: 863-386-6094
Website: http://www.floridastateparks.org/highlandshammock/default.cfm
Park Brochure: http://www.floridastateparks.org/highlandshammock/docs/HighlandHammocksBrochure.pdf

Highland Hammock State Park
5931 Hammock Road
Sebring, Florida, 33872
(863) 386-6094

Highland Hammocks State Park

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Norman on December 25, 2005

There is a large family campground, with most of the 159 sites having water and electricity. The sites are spacious, each with a picnic table and fire pit, encircled by a metal 6 inch high ring. Each site seemed to be well shaded. Ours was covered by oak trees. The ground was soft enough for tent staking with ease. There was a nice playground for children, and a big campfire circle for ranger presentations.

We rented two adjacent sites, setting up two family tents on one site, with room to spare. We then used the other site for our campfire, and a place to cook on the picnic table. We ate on the picnic table on the tented site.

There are no designated areas for tents or recreation vehicles only. Though this was not a problem, since while I was there the campground was only 20% occupied. The reservation page is excellent. As you reserve your space you can clearly see what is available and what is already rented around you. So it is easy to plan and rent several sites together. The page also clearly shows each site's location and if they have electricity. The fee was $18.00 per campsite per night.

Reservation Page: http://www.reserveamerica.com/jsp/commonpage.jsp?goto=/usa/fl/high/newindex.html

The bathroom facilities were adequate and kept clean. They had hot water all day. This park, as with many Florida state parks, allows dogs in its campgrounds. This was not a problem, and many campers did have dogs with them. All dogs were under the owners’ control and except for an occasional bark between canines, they were quite quiet.

Also, there is a 16-site wilderness (primitive) camping area one mile away from the family campground. The above reservation link will also show this area.

Highland Hammock State Park
5931 Hammock Road
Sebring, Florida, 33872
(863) 386-6094

The Trails - Plants and Animals

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Norman on December 24, 2005

The trails - plants and animals

Highland Hammocks State Park has nine trails that are all quite accessible, just off the loop road. They are short, ranging in walking time from 20 to 35 minutes, as stated in the park brochure. The trails are all flat smooth terrain and wide.

Within the park are several natural environments. As you meander the trails you will see many beautiful oak, pine, palm, and hickory trees. And the forest floor is covered by lush underbrush, predominately palmettos. By the way, did you know palm trees nor oranges are natural to Florida?
In my two days in the park I saw an otter, raccoons, alligators, turtles, squirrels, great blue herons, white egrets, hawks, vultures, and many smaller birds. Other, larger mammals are listed as park inhabitants.

The Cypress Swamp Trail is my favorite because it has a boardwalk that takes you over the water. This allows you to walk through the swamp without getting your feet wet. Most of the boardwalk is about 24 inches wide with a ‘handrail on only one side. So if you feel a bit unbalanced or worried about falling into the water, this may not be the trail for you. Small children may have to be carried while on this boardwalk.

On the trail you will be surrounded by beautiful cypress trees with their 'knees' rising out of the water. Be assured you will see large birds, herons and egrets, and posibly a turtle or alligator.
On the Big Tree Trail you will see one of the two 1,000 year old oak trees in the park. It is 36 feet around, measured several feet above the ground. The trunk is quite bumpy and we climbed up a few feet and took some nice pictures. This is certainly the biggest tree trunk I have ever seen in Florida.
Most trails are accessible to the handicapped.

Park Brochure http://www.floridastateparks.org/highlandshammock/docs/HighlandHammocksBrochure.pdf

Tram Tour

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Norman on December 24, 2005

In the afternoon you can take a tram tour presented by a park ranger. The tram is an open vehicle pulled by a pick-up truck. The ranger talks from the truck, makes stops along the way, and gets out to talk to the riders. I was happily surprised when I sat down and found the seat quite comfortable.
The tram does take you off the main roads into an area of the park that is not open to visitors. During the over 1-hour tour, we saw many animals and the ranger did a fine job of sharing information, interspersed with wonderful stories. Thank you, Ranger Rick! Yes, his name is Ranger Rick (for those who know the children‘s magazine).

You must buy your tickets and reserve your place on the tram at the ranger’s station, not where you board the tram. You do need to plan ahead and buy your tickets as early as possible. On the Saturday I visited, there was a 1pm and 2:30pm tour and both were full. The tram costs $4 per adult and $2 per child (6 - 12), and those under 6 are free. I highly recommend the tour for everyone.

Website - http://www.floridastateparks.org/highlandshammock/default.cfm

The Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Norman on December 24, 2005

Visiting the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum within the park was a pleasant surprise. The exhibits within the one building museum is of high quality, more like the exhibits one would see in fine science or history museums rather than tucked away in a Florida State Park.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was formed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of the New Deal during the Depression, operating from 1933 to 1942. “It was created for young men between the ages of 17 and 25. The enrollees earned $30 a month, of which $25 was sent home to their families. Enrollees had a military-like lifestyle in camps managed by the Army. Their clothing consisted of surplus World War I uniforms.” (Museum brochure) The 49,000 Floridians employed by the CCC planted millions of trees, built thousands of miles of roads and trails, constructed over 2,000 bridges, and fought forest fires. The “CCC Boys” not only gained on-the-job skills, but also had the opportunity to receive academic and vocational training. The CCC built 8 Florida Parks which was the beginning of the state park system.

The exhibits have many artifacts and pictures of the CCC with other artifacts of the era. Many exhibits contain more audio visual materials where you can hear recollections of those enrollees and even an FDR fireside chat. You will see a recreated bunkhouse to further get the feeling of how the boys lived.
If you want to learn more about United States and Florida history then a visit here is a must and well worth the visit to the Highland Hammocks State Park.


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