SEBRING — Start the New Year off on the right foot with a ‘first day hike’ at Highlands Hammock State Park! Two ‘off the beaten path’ walks are offered on Jan. 1.
‘From Cypress Swamp to Pinelands’ departs at 9 a.m. from the Cypress Swamp Trail and passes through a restricted area at the Cottage Road bridge. Visitors will explore the ecology of cypress swamps and pine flatwoods. The ‘Trek to the Historic Dam’ is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Visitors will meet at the Mammal Kiosk/bike path service road, which is located between Young Hammock and Cypress Swamp trails on the Loop Road. Parking is available just past the kiosk on the service road. Visitors will pass through forested wetlands, observe migratory birds and view New Deal era structures as they walk to the historic dam at Little Charley Bowlegs Creek. These leisurely walks are free and take approximately 60 to 90 minutes. Pets are not permitted.
The degree of difficulty of these field trips is easy. Hikers should dress for the weather and wear hiking boots, long pants and protective clothing. Binoculars, hats, sunscreen, insect repellent, walking sticks, water and snacks are advised. Hikers are also advised to use the restrooms in the picnic area prior to the walks as there are no restroom facilities on the Loop Road.
Registration is not required. However, those who are planning to attend may email an RSVP to laura.mcmullen @floridadep.gov, so she has an idea of how many hikers to expect. The park is located at 5931 Hammock Road in Sebring.
Park entry fees apply as follows: $6 per vehicle (up to 8 people), $4 per single occupant vehicle and $2 for bicyclists and pedestrians.