Sebring, Florida

Good Natured

Escape from the crowds while exploring Florida’s natural world.

By Sharon Therien

If you’re ready for a break from everyday life, take a trip to Highlands Hammock State Park. You’ll get out of the house while staying away from crowds. Once you enter the park, you’ll have the chance to explore 9,000 acres of a natural ecosystem, which will take you deeper into history, wilderness… and yourself.

Stroll along the Cypress Swamp Trail through Highlands Hammock State Park.
A child explores the Cypress Swamp Trail through Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring, Florida.
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This state park transports you to the days of untouched Old Florida. Designated as a park before the state park system even began, it’s a site that was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. And it maintains that sense of history today with its uncorrupted wilderness and Florida’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum, which is housed in a historical building and teaches the history of the park and its development as part of the “New Deal.”

Throughout Highlands Hammock, you’ll have the chance to get lost in nature for a while. You can find yourself surrounded by thousand-year-old oak trees and walking under shaded tree canopies.

Ancient oaks tower above, creating secluded, shady escapes.
A family among the trees at Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring, Florida.
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You’ll move through cypress and hardwood swamps, marshes, evergreen flatwoods and other habitats. These are prime spots for bird and animal sightings, yet they also give you the space, fresh air and natural beauty to unwind and reflect. It’s the ideal place to get away from it all.

There are so many nature activities at this park that you can spend the entire day here, or camp on-site and enjoy multiple days. It’s easy to spend hours wandering the nine nature trails. When you walk the foot trails or the elevated wooden boardwalk through the hammocks and cypress swamp, you might spot a black bear, deer, Florida panthers and different types of birds—all in their natural habitats.

Explore the 9,000 acres of natural beauty.
A child climbing over tree roots at Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring, Florida.
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While birding, you might catch a glimpse of a swallow-tailed kite soaring overhead, sandhill cranes standing on the ground, herons wading in the water and many other varieties throughout the park. The birds you spot can vary depending on the time of year you visit. For a reasonable fee, you can see alligators and other wildlife up close on the narrated tram tour. And you also have the option to bring your bike or rent one for a ride on a paved three-mile bike loop or an off-road six-mile trail. Just put your bike on a rack when you want to switch to walking trails. You can even go geocaching and bring your own horse through parts of the park.

Come into Highlands Hammock State Park as you are. You just might find yourself walking out of the nature trails renewed, full of wonder and ready for your next adventure.

See birds in their native habitat.
A white bird in Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring, Florida.
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