Highlands Hammock State Park

The second of two November camping trips was a trip to spend Thanksgiving at Highlands Hammock State Park near Sebring, Florida. It takes about 2 hours to drive from Orlando to Sebring, and the CurbCrusher clan made the trip on the Wednesday prior to the holiday. Over the past few years we’ve tried to make a Thanksgiving camping trip to a park within a couple of hours drive of home, making the trip on Thanksgiving morning. When doing some research for the trip, Lady CurbCrusher discovered there was a Turkey Trot 5K race on Thanksgiving morning at Highlands Hammock, so we went down on Wednesday and ran 3.1 miles Thursday morning before partaking of turkey and dressing.

We last visited Highlands Hammock in December 2007 and most of the basics about the park are the same so I won’t rehash it all here, you can follow the link and read the review. One thing that we didn’t remember fully is how smoky this park is. It seems that all the smoke from the campfires just rises up into the trees and stays there. It just hangs around makes the air thick. We definitely did better on site selection this time around, selecting site 52, which was on a corner near the playground. It was much less ambiguous about where the site was, and it was definitely easier to get in and out of. New pictures of the park and our site are here.

We did some new things this trip to Highlands Hammock

Turkey Trot – As noted above, we did the Turkey Trot race put on by the Friends of Highlands Hammock. Not a lot to say about this except that is was cold. The thermometer said it was 37.7 degrees when we woke up. After running about a mile it started to warm up, but I think we all had on three layers of clothes. Lady CurbCrusher ran and finished in 38:58, Little CurbCrusher ran the race in 34:25 and I ran the race in 29:50.

Henscratch Winery – Lady CurbCrusher picked up a “Winery’s of Florida” brochure somewhere. She’s been looking at it every time we go camping looking for places to visit. The Henscratch Farms Vineyard and Winery is located about five to ten miles from the park, and to be honest I really wasn’t looking forward to the visit. This is primarily because I don’t drink wine, and winery’s have always seemed like stuffy places to me, full of people that always seem to be a bit too impressed with themselves. Have no fear, Henscratch is more farm than winery. The focal point of the visit is the “fruit stand” like gift shop and souvenir stand. There is a self guided tour that takes you around the vineyard, wine making room and other farm stops like the duck pond and hydroponic strawberry fields. Henscratch offers pick your own strawberries during December and January, and beans and peas in the summer. When you go in the store to start your tour, they’ll give you a cup of Cheerios. This isn’t a snack, at least not for you. True to the name, Henscratch, there are a bunch of chickens to be found all around the farm. You get the option of tossing Cheerios to the chickens as you walk around the farm on your tour, and if you run out, just go back in and ask for more. I think this was the highlight of Little CurbCrusher’s trip. Pictures from our trip Henscratch are here.

Lake June-in-Winter Scrub State Park This park is located between Sebring and Lake Placid. It is an “honor system” park as there is no ranger station. There is not much here, a parking area, a small trail and a wide swath of land that leads to the lake. There is a pavilion and latrine, but that’s about it. We took some pictures and they pretty much show you all there is to see of the park.

Lake Jackson Fitness Trail – As you drive to Highland Hammock State Park you will turn from US 27 west towards the park. On the east side of US 27 is a big lake, Lake Jackson. There is a fitness trail (sidewalk) that runs all the way around the lake. On the north side of the lake is a local park, Veterans Park. We drove there with the bikes on the car and then rode the 9 miles around the lake. About a third of the ride is boring, you are along US 27, but the rest is pleasant as you wander along downtown Sebring and the neighborhoods on the east side of Lake Jackson. We had a great ride and even took some pictures.

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