Location: Long Key, Florida
Webpage: Florida State Park
General Description: Established in 1969, Long Key State Park encompasses almost 1000 acres of uplands and ponds on Long Key in the Florida Keys. Long Key formed 100,000 years ago from fossilized coral reefs and is the home of many West Indian and Caribbean plants such as gumbo limbo, poisonwood, pigeon plum, Jamaica dogwood and crabwood. Along with a 60 site campground with water and electric hookups, the State Park has a picnic area along the beach. The Golden Orb Nature Trail is a leisurely one hour walk along the beach and looping around an inland pond. Along with interpretive signs about the plants, there are many opportunities to view wildlife, especially shore and wading birds.
1) After driving in the traffic down the Florida Keys from Key Largo, we found Long Key State Park to be the perfect place for a quiet lunch at a picnic table on the beach.
2) The Golden Spider Nature Trail is a very nice trail along the beach and around an inland pond. The trail is well maintained and we saw some of the Park staff removing bags full of invasive vines. The trail includes a short boardwalk over the wetlands to gain access to the beach where you can see red and black mangroves. With their distinctive pealing red bark, the gumbo limbo trees are easy to pick out.