The Port Bougainville Trail at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park starts at its main entrance. In the early morning you’ll be surrounded by bird sounds. Warblers flit by, chasing each other and feeding on insects and brightly colored native berries. Small birds and lizards scuttle about in the brush. Spider webs on either side of the path glisten in the morning dew. Look closely for small inhabitants of the park on tree trunks and in the branches above you. The extensive tree canopy makes this park a unique tropical world of its own.
When the sun breaks through the clouds, suddenly butterflies appear. It may be a bright orange Julia butterfly or striped zebra longwing; possibly a beautiful giant swallowtail. Notice a shadow? Look up to see a bird of prey soaring overhead. Along the partially-paved half-loop, an old nature trail lined with rock walls shows clear evidence of the ancient coral reef. Fascinating coral fossils are all along the rock wall. Following the loop trail, you may see pied-billed grebes swimming and shorebirds wading in the lagoon that once was a part of the Port Bougainville development.
If hiking the full-loop trail, the hardwood hammock gives way to a swampy mangrove habitat. Depending on the tide and season, your feet could get wet or muddy, but you might see larger water birds, such as herons.
To best enjoy your walk, wear comfortable sturdy shoes, long sleeves and pants, and bring insect repellant and a camera.