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Highlands

Length: 32.3 miles (linear)

Trail to Hickory Hammock campsite (Eleanor Bauer)This trail segment involves several road walks and three water management areas – Hickory Hammock, Basinger and Yates Marsh – acquired by the South Florida Water Management District for restoration of the Kissimmee River.

From the end of Bluff Hammock Rd the trail runs south to the Hickory Hammock tract. It then extends across open pasture at the north end of the management area and meanders south within and along the oak/cabbage palm fringe bordering the floodplain to US 98 at Istokpoga Canal. Sightings of deer, hogs, bobcats, raccoons, fox, and armadillos are not uncommon along this reach of the trail. The area is also used by a variety of bird species including hawks, owls, caracara, sandhill crane, egrets, and herons. A campsite for backpackers with a fire ring and picnic table is available 2.5 miles from the Hickory Hammock trailhead.

Heading south from the Istokpoga Canal, the trail follows US 98 and SR 721 and crosses the Kissimmee River into the Yates Marsh tract. The trail there winds through open pasture and hammock areas within Yates Marsh and follows a graded county road past Platt’s Bluff (unimproved county park/boat ramp) to CR 599. A blue-blazed trail leads to a primitive campsite with a fire ring in Yates Marsh. FTA and the South Florida Water Management District are working together to establish additional off-road segments as more lands are acquired for river restoration.