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Curry Hammock Nature Trail

Curry Hammock State Park, Florida

The Curry Hammock Nature Trail, by all accounts the hardest hiking trail in the Florida Keys, forms a 1.5 mile lollipop loop through one of the largest remaining stands of Florida thatch palm in North America—this small palm has bright green leaves that were prized for use in thatch roofs, hence its now small numbers.

Exploring the nature trail requires a sturdy pair of hiking shoes, flip-flops are not recommended, due to the uneven toe-catching limestone terrain—this porous limestone surface rock and its overlying thin layer of soil support a number of trees and are collectively referred to as a rockland hammock.

The trail, located on Fat Deer Key, cannot be accessed from the park’s main entrance—rather, the trailhead is located a mile south of the entrance on the Gulf side of US 1. To find the trailhead, look for the gravel parking lot adjacent to the paved bicycle and pedestrian trail known as the Overseas Heritage Trail—the path parallels US 1 to the west.

From the small parking area, turn right and walk along the Overseas Heritage Trail about 0.15-mile to the trailhead and Information Kiosk—from the kiosk, follow the old dirt road to the trail proper. After entering the rockland hammock, you are instantly surrounded by thousands of thatch palms—watch also for the caustic poisonwood tree (don’t touch – a poison ivy like rash may follow), and the threatened Florida Keys Blackbead. Continue hiking until you reach a T-intersection, this is the beginning of the lollipop loop—take a left and follow the loop in a clockwise direction.

If you manage to hike to the halfway point in the trail without succumbing to the irritant urushiol or tripping over a pockmarked limestone outcrop, watch for the small marker that identifies the side trail that leads to Florida Bay—views of the bay are mostly unremarkable, but the breeze coming off the water is sure to please.

After returning to the main trail, take a left and make your way back to the parking area.

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