Saddle up your horse!
Pull on your hiking boots!
Strap into your biking gear!
Hiking Barr Hammock Preserve South trails offers over two dozen miles of trails for equestrians, hikers, and mountain bikers alike!
While the Levy Loop Trail on the north side of Barr Hammock Preserve stirs the spirit with stunning views at every turn, the southern trails are surely a delight all their own. Four adjoining trails – Piney Woods Loop, Bayhead Trail, Still Branch Crossing, and Hammock Loop – will keep you shaded in dense forest canopy with a few open areas as journey through a diversity of flora and fauna.
And while the trails traffic is light – I saw only a pair of horseback riders over several hours on a beautiful Sunday in October – the trails are well-maintained and well-blazed as they wind through Barr Hammock. Hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians share some portions of the trails. For the most part, however, the trails are separated for added safety and enjoyment.
What to Expect Hiking Barr Hammock Preserve
Upon entry, you are greeted by deep shade with a typical range of flora that includes water oak, willow oak, red maple, and of course the ubiquitous palmetto and sabal palms. After a mile or so, the longleaf and/or slash pine begin to dominate with some areas which are mostly pine.
Chapman’s Blazing Star
Boardwalks traverse marshlands, bridges surmount flowing streams, and dense forest opens into glades for glimpses of sky and sun. With such variety, there is no doubt that you will find a variety of creatures as well as an assortment of wildflowers such as the thicket of Chapman’s Blazing Star (liatris chapmanii) that I came across.
Is the Hiking Easy or Hard?
The trails are firm without any sweet sand to slog through, and therefore ideal for biking in the designated areas. While the main trails are mapped, but there is more of a web of interconnecting trails than the maps would first have you believe. They weave and wind with only a few straight shots and very little gain in altitude – only 164 feet and I explored most of the area.
If you’re like me, a day hiking or biking the woods can be gratifying in its own right, but a destination makes the trek so much more fun.
Barr Hammock Preserve offers just such a destination. If you plan to hike a good 9 miles round trip, you can visit a lookout area over Ledwith Prairie, aka Ledwith Lake. Here you will discover an open grassy area with a pavilion sporting a single, large picnic table. At 5 miles in, it’s the perfect time to rest with a snack, and sardines offered me a high protein energy boost that’s beyond rival.
What’s the FUN Factor? Should I Visit?
You’ll have fun, so don’t miss this hike. You can look out over the prairie which is partially submerged (video and images below). You will spot various waterfowl and other denizens of the marsh, and it’s easy to let an hour slip by around you enjoying the living view. Just don’t go wandering in, as you are likely to find alligators too!