HIGHLANDS HAMMOCK STATE PARK
One of Florida?s oldest parks, opening to the public in 1931, this park was established when local citizens came together to promote the hammock as a candidate for national park status. During the Great Depression, just prior to World War II, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed additional park facilities and the beginnings of a botanical garden. Many visitors enjoy bicycling the scenic 3-mile loop drive or hiking along the park?s nine trails. An elevated boardwalk traverses an old-growth cypress swamp. For equestrians, there is an 11-mile, day-use trail. Picnicking is another popular activity as are ranger-guided tours of the park. Highlands Hammock offers a full-facility campground, as well as a youth/group tent campground. A full-service restaurant is located on the park grounds. For schedule and catering information, call (863) 385-7025. A recreation hall is available for rental, as are several picnic pavilions. A museum showcasing the history of the CCC is open 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Located on County Road 634, four miles west of Sebring.
Enjoy viewing White-tailed deer up close during the early evening hours in the historic grove areas. See alligators swimming and basking along the swamps from the boardwalks over the dark waters. Hear the scream of Red Shouldered Hawks hunting prey through the hardwood hammock. Listen for the deep resonating sounds of Barred Owls calling in the hours near dusk. Be still in the peace of the Cypress Catwalk as dawn turns to daylight and the forest awakens. Glance at the flitting varieties of song birds as they rest during their migration through central Florida. See the flash of black and white as the immense Pileated Woodpeckers chase each other among the giant oaks. Marvel over the giant spanning webs of "Golden Silk Spiders" glistening like gold threads in the morning light. Bike along the fat-tire bike trail to look for lumbering Gopher Tortoises feeding in the heat of the mid-afternoon. Enjoy a Ranger narrated tram ride and exclaim over the abundance of turtles, alligators and wading birds that you see. Enjoy the deafening songs of frogs mating after the early summer rainstorms in the hammock. It is amazing!
This 9,000 acre park opened to the public in 1931 and is one of the earliest examples of grass-roots public support for environmental preservation. Local citizens, concerned about plans to turn the hammock into farmland, acquired the property and pledged to protect it. When Florida?s state park system was established in 1935, Highlands Hammock became one of four original state parks, and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built a camp there as a base for development.
The Recreation Hall is a great place to hold community events, private parties and reunions. This large facility holds up to 250 people and has central heat and air conditioning to ensure that guests are comfortable year round. Attractive banquet tables and folding chairs are in the building as a convenience. Kitchen facilities (hot water, stove, refrigerator, wash sinks) offer the added advantage of preparing your meal on the premises. A large BBQ grill is also conveniently located just outside the kitchen door. Both men's and lady's restrooms are also located inside the building. Additional seating (picnic tables) is located just outside the main entrance on the patio. The large front lawn offers plenty of space for recreation activities. This facility can be reserved for the modest fee of $100.00 per day. Reservations are accepted up to 11 months in advance; contact the Ranger Station at (863) 386-6094.The park entrance fee of $4.00 per vehicle (up to 8 persons) still applies.
A brief (10 minute) video of actual early park construction by the CCC is shown throughout the day in the state's Civilian Conservation Corps Museum. Visit the museum to enjoy interactive exhibits highlighting the 1930-40 era, when the park was constructed. View exhibits reflecting the CCCs influence throughout the United States and in our Florida State Parks.
Our family campground offers water, and electric hookups, a dump station and access to restrooms with shower facilities. Nearly all sites offer some shade, and are close to nature trails, the picnic area, CCC Museum and the Hammock Inn concession. Enjoy viewing deer feeding right from your site during the off-season times. Reservations may be made up to eleven months in advance. One nights camping fee deposit will be required. For more information on camping in our park simply click on the Reserve America link. Clicking on the park map or selecting one of the camping area links just below the park map will allow you to see a map of the individual campsite locations. Select any campsite icon to see a detailed description of the individual campsite and what it has to offer.
Drive to youth site situated in an oak hammock setting. Non-designated restroom facility with hot & cold running water, electric, and a shower on site. Campfire ring and picnic tables too. Contact the Ranger Station at (863) 386-6094 to inquire about availability and required fees.Primitive Camping
Drive to wilderness sites with no electric, no running water and pit toilet. Drive to family campground for shower facilities. These sites have ground fire rings and picnic tables-they are located in an open pine flatwoods area.
Highlands Hammock State Park is located near Avon Park, Lake Placid and Sebring
Highlands Hammock State Park has three playgrounds located within just a few moments drive or less than 10 minute walk from each other.
The largest play area is located in the picnic area. This playground consists of a lower platform area with a smaller double slide and monkey bars which connect to an elevated walk-over ladder leading to the upper platform with a small rock wall, firehouse pole, climbing ladder and twisty slide. Two swings are available as well. (best for ages 5-12).
The medium sized playground in the family campground consists of a low double slide and curved slide connected to a crawl tunnel leading to the upper platform which has a wavy slide and a straight slide. Two swings are also located in this area. (best for ages 3-6).
The smaller playground at the park's Recreation Hall area is the perfect play area during birthday parties, reunions, company picnics and more. When this building is not reserved or in use, this play area is also accessible for the public. Please inquire at the Ranger Station for further details.
Restroom facilities are located throughout the park and many are ADA accessible.Highlands Hammock State Park contains many historical structures and continues to upgrade visitor facilities for accessibility. For your convenience, please inquire at the Ranger Station upon arrival for specific locations of ADA-accessible facilities."
Pack a basket or cooler and enjoy a leisurely picnic in our shady, pleasant picnic area. Let the kids climb on the playground, or swing on the swings while you fellowship with friends in one of several reservable picnic pavilions. (Call 863-386-6094 for more information, or to reserve a pavilion, reservations are taken up to 11 months in advance) BBQ grills are also available. The Hammock Inn, our park?s concession, and the State of Florida?s Civilian Conservation Corps Museum are also located in the picnic area.
Come ride your horse along 11 miles of firelane trails through remote natural areas. Surprise White-tailed deer, bobcats, and other wildlife as you quietly plod along in the silence. This day-use trail is available for anyone desiring to ride his or her own horses, please be sure to bring a negative "Coggins" report. Camping with your horses is also acceptable. (Contact Reserve America for reservations) Horse camp area is located at start of 11-mile trail. This area is primitive, with no electricity or restroom facility. Restrooms are located a short drive away, self contained units and generators are welcome in this area. There is room for trailer parking at this area, tie outs and water trough are provided. (Appropriate primitive/wilderness camping fees apply).
Highlands Hammock Webster defines hammock as " a fertile area in the southern U.S. and especially Florida, that is usually higher than its surroundings and that is characterized by hardwood vegetation and deep humus-rich soil." True enough. But visitors to Highlands Hammock State Park know exactly what it means -- " Beautiful!." Stroll along the elevated boardwalk over Charlie Bowlegs Creek and search the tea-colored water for alligators. Walk along the boardwalk of the Memorial Trail and view the colorful, scattered leaves. See fall in Florida, and maybe observe a flock of White Ibis feeding. Walk deep into the woods under the expansive tree canopy of the Ancient Hammock Trail. Wonder over the giant oaks and their airplant-laden branches. Lake June in Winter Scrub Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park is located 20 minutes from HHSP, and offers hiking opportunities through rare scrub habitat. Current amenities include a picnic pavilion, composting toilet, and short ? mile nature walk through scrubby flatwoods and bay communities along a spring-fed creek. This nature trail is a delightful oasis, providing a quiet and shady spot in this predominantly scrub and scrubby flatwoods ecosystem. Another brief walk will offer beautiful views of Lake June in Winter, a 3500-acre lake that lies west of the property. Hikers may enjoy several miles of firelanes that transverse this hot, sunny habitat. From these firelanes, you may see Gopher Tortoises, Florida Scrub Jays, Bald Eagles, Wild Turkeys, Bobcats, Florida Scrub-Lizards and more! Rare, endemic plants of the Florida Scrub can be discovered by those interested in botany. Full sun and deep sands should be expected. Be sure to bring plenty of drinking water, suitable shoes, sunblock and perhaps a cell phone. This park is remote and quiet, affording a very relaxing and peaceful wilderness experience.
A paved loop drive through the hammock offers nature study and is ideal for cyclists as bicycles are not permitted on the nature trails. This drive is smooth and suitable for roller-blading, or skating. A six-mile "off roadway" bicycle trail is also available and is best suited for fat-tired bikes. See the results of our prescribed burn and the restoration it has created.Bike rentals are available at the ranger station.
Tram tours are one hour in length and travel into remote areas of the park where visitors will see alligators, turtles, wading birds and more. Tours are scheduled Tuesday-Friday at 1pm, Saturdays & Sundays 1pm & 2:30pm. A minimum of five persons is required for all tours. Private tours are available by reservation for organized groups, contact the park for further information.
Various exhibits are found throughout the park, interpreting the history and natural and cultural resources found here. Visit the Hammock Inn restaurant to view taxidermied wildlife and the ancient tortoise shell.
Skate with caution around the 3.2 mile "Loop Drive," a smooth roadway under the Hammock's shaded canopy. Watch for sticks and/or hickory nuts. Please be sure to yield to vehicle traffic.
Pets are welcome in all outdoor areas, including the campgrounds of the park. For their safety, please refrain from walking dogs on boardwalks without double railings. (Alligators may be present in all wetland areas of the park.) Visitors should remember to clean up after their pets and keep pets on a 6 foot hand-held leash at all times. Service animals are welcome in all visitor use areas in the park. Please contact the Ranger Station for specific pet restrictions or inquiries.
Pets must be confined, leashed (not to exceed six feet in length) or otherwise under the physical control of a person at all times. Tethered pets must not be left unattended for more than 30 minutes. Quiet hours must be observed from 11:00 p.m. - 8:00 a.m. Pet owners must pick up after their pets and properly dispose of all pet droppings in trash receptacles. Florida law requires that pets be vaccinated against rabies. Any pet that is noisy, dangerous, intimidating or destructive will not be allowed to remain in the park. Non-furbearing pets, such as reptiles, birds, or fish must be confined or under the physical control of the owner. Some animals may be prohibited on park property. Failure to abide by these rules may result in the camper being asked to board the pet outside the park or to leave the campground.
Highlands Hammock State Park is located off US 27 on SR 634 (also known as Hammock Road), four miles west of Sebring.