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Florida State Parks 

Highlands Hammock Offers "Firefly Tours" Starting March 15

Multiple Entertainment Options Featured at State Park

 

Last updated 3/14/2022 at 2:57pm

Florida's native Longleaf Pine flatwoods still exist at Highlands Hammock

Highlands Hammock State Park has a full lineup of activities and special events for the month of March including nature hikes, "Firefly Nights" tram tours, and a Music in the Park concert. On March 14, park visitors may join Park Services Specialist (PSS) Carla Sherwin on a "Hiking the Hammock" walk which offers the unique opportunity of exploring some restricted areas. This "off the beaten path" trek runs down Cottage Road through cypress swamp and emerges into pine flatwoods on the west side of the park. Visitors will learn about fire and water as natural forces which forged the Florida landscape, the flora and fauna found in these habitats and why Highlands Hammock has more rare and endemic plant and animal species than any other Florida State Park. They may observe an alligator, a red-shouldered hawk, deer or a gopher tortoise on this walk. Visitors are directed to park in the Cypress Swamp Trail parking area and meet PSS Sherwin at 9 a.m. The hike will take approximately one hour and is one mile round trip. Registration for the Hiking the Hammock walk is requested. Sign up by calling the Ranger Station at 863-386-6094 ext. 0 or reply by email to [email protected] Hikers are reminded to dress for the weather and wear hiking boots, long pants and protective clothing. A hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, water, and snacks are also advised. Binoculars, walking sticks, and cameras are useful.

On March 21, Heartland residents and visitors are invited to join Ranger Blake Lewis for a 9 a.m. "Birding with Ranger Blake" hike focusing on spring bird migration. Swallow-tailed kites, which return annually at the end of February and are a sure sign of spring, have already been sighted. Ranger Lewis, who is very adept at calls and identification, recently heard the chipping of a Northern parula warbler and spotted a black-and-white warbler in an oak near the ranger station.

"Firefly Nights" Tram Tours, a park signature event, begins March 15. Visitors can experience the magic of the Hammock at night, observe bats on the wing, hear owls calling and be amazed at the different species of fireflies as they emerge as adults in this annual March phenomena. Tours are weather dependent and will be offered according to the numbers of insects present as they peak from mid-March and decline towards the end of the month. Tickets will be available at the Hammock Inn concession on the day before and the day of tours. Ticket cost is $12 per adult and $7 for children aged 6 to 12. Children 5 years and younger are free, however the tour is not advisable for very young children under 3. For more information, visit the Friends of Highlands Hammock Facebook page and their new website: http://www.friendsofhighlandshammockstatepark.org.

Photo courtesy Brian Woodworth

Black and White Warblers may be found in Highlands Hammock and other Florida state parks

The California Toe Jam Band is booked to play the Music in the Park concert from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday night, March 26. Known for playing the best classic rock from the 1960s and 1970s, the band has a large following and concert-goers may wish to come early and stake out a spot in the grassy circle. Visit them on Facebook or their website at http://www.californiatoejam.com. Concert admission is $10 per adult. Children 12 years old and younger accompanied by an adult are free. Pets are not permitted, so please no dogs! Food and refreshments will be provided by food trucks and the Hammock Inn. Music in the Park concerts and the Firefly Nights Tram Tours are sponsored by the Friends of Highlands Hammock State Park. Find the Friends on Facebook and visit their new website, http://www.friendsofhighlandshammockstatepark.org. Park entry fees of $6.00 per vehicle (up to 8 persons), $4.00 per single occupant vehicle, and $2.00 for bicyclists and visitors walking on foot apply for the nature hikes. Park entry fees are waived for Music in the Park concerts after 6 p.m. on concert nights and the Firefly Nights Tram Tours. Highlands Hammock is located at 5931 Hammock Road in Sebring.

 

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