Highlands Hammock Announces January Monday Morning Nature Walks
Sebring: Highlands Hammock State Park’s Monday Morning Nature Walks are scheduled to resume on January 7. These popular hikes which are offered on Monday mornings during the winter and continuing through the end of March, are now in their sixth year. Park visitors may take a leisurely walk with volunteer trail guides Brian and Susan Woodworth as they explore park nature trails, observe birds, spot reptiles and discover what’s blooming. “One of the reasons why this program has developed such a strong local following and has been so successful is that visitors are likely to see birds and wildlife or some extraordinary air plant or shrub in bloom,” stated Park Services Specialist Carla Sherwin. “The Woodworths are two self-taught naturalists who take the time to actively scout trails in advance of their hikes, so they know where certain species are most likely to be found,” she added. Migratory songbirds are now in the park, and it is not unusual to sight woodpeckers, red-shouldered hawks and water birds such as herons, ibis and egrets. Alligators, turtles and snakes are sometimes spotted. January walks include the following: Cypress Swamp Trail (January 7), Fern Garden Trail (January 14), and Richard Lieber Memorial Trail (January 28).
All hikes begin at 9:00 a.m. and take approximately one hour to 90 minutes. The degree of difficulty of the walks ranges from easy to moderate. Visitors will meet at the trailhead parking areas on the Loop Road at 9:00 a.m. They are advised to dress for the weather and wear hiking boots, long pants and protective clothing and bring sunscreen, insect repellent, water and snacks. Walking sticks and binoculars are also useful. Highlands Hammock is located at 5931 Hammock Road in Sebring. Park entry fees of $6.00 per vehicle (up to 8 people), $4.00 per vehicle for a single person, and $2.00 for bicyclists and people on foot apply.
The walk that falls on January 21, the third Monday of the month, will be held at Lake June-in-Winter Scrub State Park. Park visitors will have the opportunity to explore scrub habitat and may observe Florida scrub-jays. Eagles have been sighted recently and hikers may also walk down to the edge of the lake and observe water birds. Water, a hat, sunglasses and appropriate shoes and clothing are essential as there is very little shade in scrub areas and walking in sugar sand can be difficult. Lake June is located at the far south end of Daffodil Road in Lake Placid. The park entrance fee is $2.00 per vehicle and exact change is required for payment in an Iron Ranger deposit box.