Welcome to Highlands Hammock State Park in summer! Soaring temperatures, high humidity, afternoon thunderstorms and sudden downpours are common. Park tram tours have been suspended for the remainder of the summer due to road and culvert damage from heavy rains. Visitors may check the park website or call the Hammock Inn Concession at 863-402-0061 for updated information on tram operation. Visitors who hike, bike or run in the early morning / early evening are cautioned to be aware of flooding and downed tree limbs on trails and roads following stormy weather. Trails with pockets of water and those located in and around wetlands will have mosquitoes, so visitors are advised to carry insect repellent. Summer heat and humidity also require hikers to carry water and keep well hydrated. Visitors may observe alligators and families of deer with young fawns. Butterflies are now abundant and may be observed on nectar plants and “puddling” in sandy areas. Red-headed woodpeckers and Eastern bluebirds are frequently sighted in the pine flatwoods beyond the park entrance. Park burn crews will be conducting prescribed burns throughout the park and visitors may notice residual smoke in the “blackened” areas. Prescribed fire, fire which is intentionally applied under conditions selected to achieve specific resource management goals, is essential to pine flatwood habitats and other fire-adapted Florida ecosystems. One of the most important benefits of prescribed fire is the reduction of natural fuel loads to minimize the risk of wildfires, thus protecting neighborhood homes that border park wildlands. In the weeks following a presecribed burn, visitors will note the emergence of new plant growth which creates fresh browse for deer and other wildlife. The Hammock Inn Concession, which is now open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, will resume daily operation in the fall. Please call the Ranger Station at 863-386-6094 for more information.
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