Several years ago there was a horrible plan put forward to create a hotel and 2000 condominiums right in the heart of one of America’s largest tracts of West Indian tropical hardwood hammocks.
Thankfully this plan did not come to fruition, which is just as well because the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, wouldn’t be anywhere near the same as it is now.
Situated an hour’s drive from Miami the park is a nature lovers haven. Featuring 84 different species of flora, its stunning locale is best explored through its hiking and biking trails.
As well as wildlife watching, birding is also a very popular activity here too, with people from all over Florida coming here to check out the range of seasonal and permanent species that reside there.
While there is nothing in the way of camping accommodation onsite, you will find several campgrounds you can stay at within a 15 to 30 minute drive from it.
Named after a local environmentalist, this Florida state park was established in 1982. It is designated as pet friendly. So you will be able to come here with your dog to enjoy this splendid outdoor public recreation space.
One of the best things about the park is that it provides guests with many opportunities to appreciate the beauty of its natural surroundings.
Outlined below is a brief overview of some of the many things you can see and do during your time there.
Hiking at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
Throughout the park, several miles of hiking trails give visitors the chance to explore its breathtaking landscape.
This includes a selection of rare plant species and animals that are not seen in too many places outside of it.
Starting from the park’s main entrance, you can take a self-guided nature hike on a paved, wheelchair accessible trail that meanders past a dense hardwood hammock.
Within this tropical zone you will also find a fascinating garden full of native plants like mahogany mistletoe and wild cotton. This garden is also full of beautiful butterflies that float around effortlessly.
Another path to tackle is The Port Bougainville Trail. Comprising leaf-littered gravel and coral rock subtrate, it takes you to some of the park’s most scenic areas. So you will definitely want to have your camera with you to capture photos of the terrain.
When attempting either of these walks, make sure you put on appropriate and comfortable footwear. Also it is a good idea to wear long pants and sleeves, as well as sunscreen and bug repellent.
Biking at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
In addition to walking and hiking, the park can also be explored via mountain biking. Generally it is better to do this with fat tire vehicles as they withstand the rigors of the trails better than thin tires.
Whenever you ride, you are strongly recommended to wear helmets and other safety equipment.
Please note, if you are under the age of 16 it is a legal requirement to do so under Florida law.
Birding at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
Given its thick and lush vegetation the park provides a natural habitat for many different species of birds.
This makes birding a very popular activity among ornithology enthusiasts. Many of which flock to the park from all over Florida for the chance to see lots of different breeds.
Overall the park is home to hundreds of different species – some of whom reside here all throughout the year. While others are seasonal migrants.
The months of April and October are particularly good times to visit the park for bird watching. But regardless of when you do come, you can expect to see the likes of mangrove cuckoos, white-crowned pigeons, thick billed vireo, black-whiskered vireo and La Sagra’s flycatcher.
Nature & Wildlife
As well as birding, the park provides excellent opportunities to engage in wildlife observation.
One of the main species of fauna that people come to the park to see is butterflies, many of which reside in its specifically designated butterfly garden.
Some of the breeds you can see include the silver-banded hairstreak and Schaus’ swallowtail, as well as both mangrove and hammock skippers.
The Key Largo Woodrat and the Key Largo Cotton Mouse are among some of the wildlife species you might see at the park. Keep an eye out for American crocodiles too.
Pets at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
Pets are welcome to join you at the park. However, some restrictions on their presence do apply.
To establish what they are it is worth getting in touch with the main office for further clarification.
Camping at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
Unfortunately there are no camping facilities available at the park.
However, if you need somewhere to stay overnight in order to visit it, there are several campgrounds within a 15 – 30 minute drive away, that you can book into.
These include the Port Bougainville campground, Kings Kamp RV Park, John Pennekamp Camp Area and Calusa Campground Resort & Marina.
Between them, they offer a complete suite of accommodation options to suit all preferences. These range from RV sites that have full hookups for water, sewer and electricity to primitive tenting spaces that require you to pack in and pack out.
Depending on which one you stay at, some of the amenities you will find at them include comfort stations with hot showers and flush toilets, dump stations, swimming pools, boat ramps, playgrounds and concession stores.
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
County Rd 905 & Mile Marker 106
Key Largo, FL 33037
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park: