Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

We went on another senior adventure with Martin and Betsy Basch.  I read about Dagney Johnson in my book, “Women Saving the Florida Keys”.  We left in the morning and stopped at Bayside Gourmet in Islamorada for breakfast.

When we got to the park in Key Lago, I realized that I had forgotten my camera again.  Again.  So this post features photos Betsy took with her iPhone.  Nice job Betsy!

This park was going to be a housing development.  I’m not sure exactly how it became a state park, but it involved a woman, Dagney Johnson. This is from the park website:

The park was established in 1982 with land acquired by Florida’s Conservation and Recreational Lands program. Now 2,421 acres on the northern third of the island of Key Largo, the park was named for Dagny Johnson, a local environmental activist, approximately one year before her death in 2003. Throughout the 1970s, `80s and `90s, Johnson led the Upper Keys Citizens Association, the Izaak Walton League and other environmental organizations that fought to stop the development that was planned for much of north Key Largo. Preservation of onshore communities was not the only purpose for protecting north Key Largo. These environmental activists also wanted to protect the coral reefs offshore from the adverse impacts of land development.

“Once slated to become a condominium development, this park contains one of the largest tracts of West Indian tropical hardwood hammock in the United States. The park is home to 84 protected species of plants and animals, including wild cotton, mahogany mistletoe and the American crocodile. Exploring the park´s trails gives visitors a chance to see some of these rare species of plants and animals. Over six miles of nature trails provide a wealth of opportunities for birdwatchers and photographers.”

There are plenty of reminders that the place was going to be a development.  The main entrance trail is a paved road. We were not sure what this traffic circle was about.  It has arbors and picnic tables.


This long stone wall was puzzling, but is was a nice walking path in the cool shade


Betsy took a few closeup pictures of the limestone rocks.



There are a lot of Poisonwood trees in the park.  They can be identified by the bright orange splotches on the trunk.  All parts of the tree are poisonous with oil that will blister your skin.


After a nice walk on a paved road through the forest, we came out into a wide-open area with no trees.  The path was a bit rough limestone.  Andy was happy he brought his walking stick.


The park map said this was a wet area, but it is bone dry right now.  The red mangrove, with the prop roots, usually grows in the water.  I hope they survive.


I was happy to get back into the woods and shade.  This was a mulch path.  The park is large and the trails are very nice.  The scenery doesn’t change much, though.


The park is on the ocean, but there is no access to the beach yet. We came upon a park volunteer who told us that much of the rubble we saw was from buildings that have been knocked down.  There are lagoons and canals that were to be waterfront for the homes.  There are crocodiles on Key Largo so there probably won’t be any swimming in them.

We stopped at Smuggler’s Cove in Islamorada.  We went there for hamburgers, but Andy was the only one that got one.  The rest of us got fish tacos.  And, that was our day.

2 thoughts on “Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

  1. Jane Wilmer February 16, 2017 / 9:35 am

    nice. job…will have to go some time! jane

    Sent from my iPad



    • Dinata Misovec February 19, 2017 / 6:20 pm

      It’s not the best place to go in the keys, but I want tot check it all out.


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