Once destined for the developer’s bulldozer, Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Preserve State Park is an incomparable botanical treasure. From the moment you start through the archway following the pavement that was to lead to the condo complex, you’re immersed in the dark shade of a thicket of tropical trees.
Surrounding you is the highest concentration of champion trees in one place in the United States, and yet none are over 45 feet tall. Current and prior national champions include crabwood, Bahama strongback, spicewood, wild cinnamon, milk-bark, Guiana plum, inkwood, wild tamarind, blolly, and tropical soapberry.
In all, 84 endangered plant and animal species are protected here. A new loop trail provides excellent bicycle access to the portion of the park nearest to the main entrance.
For the adventuresome, you can request a backcountry pass (available at nearby John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park) to roam miles of forest roads to see more botanical treasures like wild cotton, mahogany mistletoe, and wild allamanda. A caveat: this forest is home to some of South Florida’s most dangerous plants, including manchineel and poisonwood, so know your species before you roam.
Port Bougainville Trail