SEBRING: Highlands Hammock State Park cordially invites residents and visitors from communities throughout the greater Heartland to celebrate Mother’s Day by taking the park tram tour on Sunday, May 14. The Hammock Inn concession, which operates the tours, is offering a special 50% discounted rate of $7.50 plus tax for all mothers. The cost of tram tickets is $15 per adult and $10 for children six to twelve years old. Children aged five and younger are free. The same discount will be applied on Father’s Day, June 18, weather and road conditions permitting in consideration of the summer rainy season.
The guided, narrated tour, which takes 90 minutes, provides visitors the opportunity to view birds, alligators, deer and other wildlife relatively close up. The tram departs from the picnic area, runs slowly around the Loop Road beneath a densely shaded canopy of oaks and cabbage palms before turning off into restricted areas and continuing on through cypress swamp and pine flatwoods. The tram returns along South Canal where alligators, turtles, and water birds may be observed and otters are sometimes spotted.
Tram tickets may be purchased at the Hammock Inn on the day of the tour and/or one day in advance with cash or credit card. Hammock Inn days and hours of operation are now Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the concession will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trams are scheduled to run at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday through the end of May and on May 29 for the Memorial Day holiday.
Spring hours of operation for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum have also changed. Hours of operation are now Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Hammock Inn camp store, tram tours and museum will resume full operation in the late fall. Visitors planning tram tours are advised to arrive 30 minutes in advance and be aware that pets are not permitted. The tram is ADA accessible with advance notice and private, pre-arranged tours for groups may be booked according to availability. For ticket reservations and more information, visitors may call the Hammock Inn at 863-402-0061. The Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations are supported by the Friends of Highlands State Park Citizens Support Organization. Find the Friends on Facebook and visit their website at www.friendsofhighlandshammockstatepark.org.
Despite a prolonged drought, the cypress swamp and the hammock are bright green with fresh foliage. Visitors may observe soaring swallow-tailed kites and baby fawns. Visitors are advised that the Cypress Swamp Trail historic catwalk is closed for repairs and will remain closed until further notice. The boardwalk at the front of the trailhead is open and vistiors may walk to the first open, scenic vista. Access beyond this point is closed. Highlands Hammock State Park is located at 5931 Hammock Road in Sebring. Park entry fees of $6 per vehicle (up to eight people) and $4 per single occupant vehicle apply.