Don’t get me wrong, South Florida’s beaches are the best. Our waters are so clear and warm, you could spend days staring at the tide before you remember you should eat something. But sometimes when you have urge to be in nature, you crave something more wooded and shaded. That’s why I’m grateful for the Matheson Hammock Nature Trail.
Located on the west side of Old Cutler Road, across the street from the entrance of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, this trail serves as a respite for the rage and unrelenting sun that many of us down here face day to day.
The parking lot is free and the Matheson Hammock Nature Trail loops around for a little over a mile. It’s big enough to lose your sense of direction, but not so vast that you’re in any danger of not finding your way out. I’ve yet to see any animals except for one giant spider, but as you walk along the dirt path you’ll see a wide variety of foliage. A few trees have fallen which you can easily climb up and pose to the amusement of all your Instagram admirers.
I started going there in the mid-90’s. At night random hippie-ish teenagers would get together for little bonfires we encircled with bongo drum and didgeridoo playing. I haven’t been at night in decades, but in the day time the years have not changed the park much. They expanded the trail a bit, but the remnants of limestone shelters and a tiny cave still exist which allow your imagination to wander toward what kind of animal or hobo might live in there.
It’s hard to imagine a whole swath of our region once looked like this. But I’m grateful they preserved at least a remnant of it to enjoy.