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Dagney Johnson Key Largo Hammock, Florida Keys

Dagney Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park -- there's a mouthful for you! It's a different kind of Florida State Park, and it has a story.

At one point, Dagney Johnson was slated to become a condominium development, like much of South Florida. Fortunately, sanity prevailed and this park was created instead. Did you know that 84 protected species of plants and animals call Dagney Johnson home?

The park also contains one of the largest tracts of West Indian tropical hardwood hammock in the United States. That may not sound very impressive (it didn't to me the first time I heard it), but these pieces of natural Florida are rapidly disappearing.

Let's take a look at Dagney Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, and see what we can see.

Be on the Lookout For...

The American crocodile is one of the 84 protected species that visit or live in the park. They are somewhat shy and elusive, but really neat to see. They do live in the back country area, so you may to brave some bugs to get to them.

For the botanically inclined, look for mistletoe, mahogany and wild cotton. And of course my favorite -- the gumbo limbo tree. It's nickname is the Tourist Tree, for its reddish peeling bark.

So What Is There To Do?

Dagny Johnson State Park is one of the Florida State Parks that doesn't have concessions, so the activities are limited to:

  • Hiking/Biking
  • Picnics
  • Wildlife Viewing

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Trails - Hike 'Em, Bike 'Em

Hiking and biking trails are very good at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock. There is a nice 1/2 mile paved trail, which is excellent for bikes and wheelchairs. Signs along the self-guided trails provide information about what you are seeing as you wander through the park. In addition, from October through March, there are ranger-led walks. These occur on Thursdays and Sundays at 10 AM. Why not the rest of the year? Four little letters: b-u-g-s.

There are actually over 6 miles of trails to explore! There is one catch -- you need to get a back country permit first. And you have to do that at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, just down the road from Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. So, if you have your heart set on exploring the truly neat back country, make a quick stop at Pennekamp first.

What Munchies Did You Bring?

There aren't any concessions in the park, so you will need to bring your own food and drinks. Picnic tables are available.

This is Florida, and it can get awfully hot. Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are visiting during the summer months. If you get thirsty, you're already a bit dehydrated.

Quick - Where's the Camera?

If you have a decent zoom on your camera, you will probably enjoy bringing it to Dagny Johnson. Should I mention those 84 endangered species again? Birds are ever-present -- herons, ibis, ospreys. Keep an eye out and who knows what you will find? April and October are the best birding times -- the park is on the migration path of many species.

Butterflies have made a comeback and are frequently seen. So are the rare tree snails.

I know I keep mentioning the endangered species -- I'll have to do more digging and see what more I can find out (like what they are). As soon as I can get a small list together, I'll post it here.

A Notice About Water, Weather and Insects

Insect repellant is an absolute must if you are going into the back country. And it might not be bad idea anywhere in the park. As always when in natural Florida, be aware of the strong sun and possible rainshowers. Make sure to bring sunblock, sunglasses and lip balm.

A hat is also suggested -- it is so easy to get a sunburn on your scalp, along the part in your hair (ask me how I know...).

Time and Place

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is open year-round from 8 AM to sunset. The entrance fees are as follows:

  • Honor Fee - $1.50 per person

Dagny Johnson's main entrance is on County Road 905 on Key Largo, roughly 1/2 mile north of the intersection with US 1 at Mile Marker 106. The official park address is P.O. Box 487, Key largo, FL 33037. The phone number is (305) 451-1202.

Florida Pieces-Parts

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is on Key Largo in the Florida Keys. The closest city is Key Largo. The closest airport is Miami International.

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