2019 Heartland Other
2019 Heartland Other
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With a diverse range of native flora and fauna, excellent hiking trails, and more wildlife watching opportunities than you can poke a stick at, Highlands Hammock State Park is one of the treasures of Florida's state parks system.
Located less than five miles west of Sebring, this 9,251-acre park was created in 1931 to protect a unique and fragile ecosystem. It's home to more rare species than any other park in the state, and it's also well-known as the perfect destination for an RV camping getaway.
Keep reading to find out what there is to do in Highlands Hammock State Park and how to plan the perfect camping trip.
Highlands Hammock State Park encompasses more than 9,000 acres of old-growth hammock, wetlands, and more, providing a diverse habitat for many different creatures of all shapes and sizes. As a result, it's a great spot to visit for any wildlife or nature lover.
Bird watchers are in for a treat in the park, with the chance to spot a huge range of species. Warblers are a common sight on the trails, while wading birds herons and egrets frequent cypress swamp. Barred owls, red-shouldered hawks, and many more species either live in or migrate through the area, so don't forget your binoculars.
Feathered creatures aside, there's plenty of other wildlife to get up close and personal with. Depending on the time of year and even the time of day, you could expect to see anything from a bobcat or alligator to a white-tailed deer or even a Florida panther.
The best way to see the park's diverse fauna and plant life is to explore its hiking trails and boardwalks. There are nine trails in the park, ranging in length from 975 to 3,000 feet. Best of all, eight of those trails are easy to access from the loop road.
The Alexander Blair Big Oak Trail is a popular starting point for campers, and this short hike takes you to a magnificent oak tree that's some 1,000 years old. If you're keen to lay eyes on an alligator, you might prefer tackling the Cypress Swamp Trail. Whichever trails you choose to explore, make sure you carry plenty of water — not to mention insect repellent.
Want to camp in an RV at Highlands Hammock State Park? After you book an RV in Highlands County, reserve your perfect site in the park's family campground, which is open all year round.
All sites in the family campground offer water and electrical hookups, with 116 sites in total capable of accommodating RVs. However, the maximum vehicle size varies between sites, with the largest permitted RV length set at 50 feet. Three sites are also paved and accessible to people with disabilities.
Restrooms and showers are clean and easily accessible, while laundry and dish-washing facilities are also provided. Other features include a dump station, picnic tables, fire rings, playgrounds, and a recreation hall with its own stage, kitchen, and seating area. Leashed pets are welcome in the campground but must be attended to and under control at all times.
There's also a camp store, the Hammock Inn Concession, where campers can stock up on essential supplies. The store is open from 9 AM to 5 PM during peak periods and offers Wi-Fi.
If you're not camping in an RV, the park also boasts 14 primitive wilderness campsites for tents only. Four horse sites for equestrian campers are provided as well.
Once you've finished exploring Highlands Hammock State Park and loaded up your rental RV, you won't have to go far before you find other attractions and activities worth checking out.
If you're keen to continue enjoying Florida's state parks system, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, with its beautiful grassland and well-known stargazing opportunities, is less than an hour to the northeast. If you've got a need for speed, head into Sebring to check out the drag racing at Sebring International Raceway.
And if you want to head for a big city, you could be in Tampa in well under two hours. While you're there, make sure you head to the TECO Manatee Viewing Center to catch a glimpse of one of these gorgeous creatures up close.
There's no shortage of memorable experiences on offer when you rent a camper near Highlands Hammock State Park, so make sure you add it to your list of must-visit destinations.