You always wanted to explore a tropical jungle? You can get a small taste of it in Homestead, just south of Miami. I found this place as I was searching for geocaches in the near vicinity of Coral Castle and found two interesting once at the Hattie Bauer Hammock Preserve. If you are a geocacher check out the caches if not you should visit here if you like small adventures.
The Preserve features a small loop trail with information boards along the way. First challenge is to find the parking lot. It is not really hidden, but you will most likely pass it if you don’t look for it. You can park directly on the green in front of the fence.
From here follow the arrow to the start of the loop trail. There are a couple old and abandoned buildings around here. Do not trespass or enter any of the buildings. This is also written down at the park rules at the entrance. Check out the photo sphere below to see the entrance to the jungle and the start of the loop trail. Check out the photo sphere below.
When you enter the “jungle” you will notice a slight rise in elevation. This point here is 18 feet above sea level, which is reportedly the highest point in southern Miami-Dade County. This area is riddled with solution holes and you will encounter the biggest one right after you enter this jungle. A solution hole is formed by acid rain, which erodes the limestone in the ground and leaves holes and cavities.
Follow the unpaved loop trail and learn more about this area covered with Gumbo Limbos and large oaks. It seems that nobody is really taking care of this park right now and that’s why you get a pretty good jungle explorer feeling. After I entered the jungle, my first thought was why I didn’t bring a machete. Actually it’s not that bad, but you know a jungle adventure without machete is no real adventure. Follow the short loop trail around, which will lead you back to the entrance. Also please don’t leave the trail.
If you are scared of spiders you shouldn’t look up or come here at all. There are a lot of spider webs all over the place. I am 6’1″ and I didn’t walk to any webs directly, at least I didn’t notice any. But if you look up, you will most likely see the webs as well as some bigger spiders. This area is home to a lot of Golden Silk Orbweavers. They might look scary and the females are very big, but they are harmless to humans. They just sit on their webs and waiting for insect prey.