A few weeks ago I took a trip through Florida to visit a few of the state parks. One of the top parks on my list to visit was Highland Hammock. I love a good boardwalk over the water, and on Instagram I saw that this park had a unique type of boardwalk called a “catwalk”. After browsing the trails online and how long it would take to get there, I based my weekend trip around making sure I could visit this specific park.
I had been at Myakka River State Park earlier in the day, so I arrived at Highland Hammock from the southwest. I was visiting during June of 2020 where COVID 19 was still very much an ongoing issue which meant certain precautions were taken for safety when entering the park as well as well as having a hand in determining what was and wasn’t open.
There’s a ranger station where you can pay your admission fee at the entrance of the park. From there, I drove on into the hammock to do some hiking. When I visited, the only bathroom was out near the stage, so I would recommend stopping there prior to hiking.
There’s 9 different walking trails you can take in the park. Some are boardwalk, some are catwalk, and some are just dirt trails. I hiked on 4 of the 9 trails and while they were close in proximity, I saw a different part of the hammock each time.
- Young Hammock – This trail is among the younger hammock growth. It’s about a half mile. Be careful of a lot of stumps and wear bug spray. This was the narrowest trail with the most bugs when I visited.
- Cypress Swamp Trail – This was my favorite trail and the only one that had a catwalk. It starts out as a boardwalk and then becomes narrow with three or four planks to walk on and a railing on only one side. It goes through the swamp and over the water and then loops back for a total of about a half mile. It was THE COOLEST trail. Even if I was afraid of falling in.
- Fern Garden Trail – This trail was at least half boardwalk. It connects to the Richard Lieber and Hickory trails. It you just stay on Fern Garden, it’s length is about a half mile.
There’s also other things to do in the park including camping, horseback riding, bike trails, and a museum. Some of these were closed when I visited due to COVID-19 but depending when you travel may be reopened. I would recommend bringing food into the park to have a picnic at the picnic area or on your little hikes and to walk along as many trails as you can. Even though they’re all so close, they are all entirely different.
I went during humid July in Florida, and even then it was beautiful. Pack insect repellant, snacks, water, and your sneakers and you’re bound to have a great time. Happy travels!