Marshall Hampton Reserve/ Acorn Hammock Trail is a 3.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Winter Haven, FL. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, walking, and birding.
Nestled on the north east edge of Lake Hancock, just across the lake from Circle B Bar Reserve lies Marshall Hampton Reserve. The Reserve has a interesting blend of oak hammock areas canopying over mesic flatwoods, hardwood forest wetlands and a 60 acre pond. Cypress Dome Swamp Freshwater swamps such as cypress domes contain water at least part of the year. Cypress trees lose their leaves in the winter, but bright green foliage appears again in the spring. Pine Flatwoods The flatwood community is dominated by pines such as longleaf and slash. Saw palmetto is abundant in the understory, along with blueberry, gallberry, fetterbush and the occasional frostweed aster. Hammock The hammock community contains remnant portions of wet, mesic and scrubby flatwoods. The absence of fire in these systems allows the woody trees such as oak to grow too large and the large trees start to shade out the plants growing closer to the ground.
flooding in spots
Mostly shady but we hiked a little more then 3.5 miles. Easy trail to hike.
Several areas under water up to 15 inches in depth
I will start this review, with a little on my background. I was in the Army and did training in Florida Swamps. I live in TN, and trail run in mountainous terrain there.
Maybe I was silly, but there were thunderstorms yesterday and I went out to run this trail. Fully a third of the trail was under 2 to 6" of water. There are parts with hard packed sand under the water, parts with mud you sink into. These are not little puddles you can go around, we are talking mini-ponds that extended off into thick woods on both sides. Someone drives trucks down the trail, which is tearing up the ground and making the sinking, water accumulation, and loose mud even worse.
The first quarter to half mile of the trail is grass. Which would be nice if mowed. Today it was a good 4 to 6" tall. Which in mix swamp/ hardwood / palmetto habitat in Florida means the grass that tall could conceal a rattlesnake or a cottonmouth. I am the adventurous type, but I couldn't keep running for fear of what my next stride would land on.
Unfortunately, I would not recommend this trail for kids or pets. I can really only recommend it for experienced hikers with the proper equipment. Trail run only if you see it has been mowed recently and hasn't rained much lately. As you go into the parking area, there are a couple of big (6 foot plus) potholes filled with water you have to drive through and/or around. If they are filled with water, I would say to forget this trail.... unless you really want a swamp hike. Then I recommend something like Jungle Boots for your footwear.
I appreciate the fact the area is open to the public, but they really should have some signs up that advise someone of the conditions. On my way out I passed a 60 year old lady with a dog in the grass part of the trail. I had to worn her of the conditions ahead. She was totally unequipped for where she was headed.
Nice trail well taken care of. We hiked both trails which totaled 5.2 miles.
Really nice and clean area that's only been open to the public for a couple of years. My family and I geocache, and there was quite a few out there when we hit that area on Christmas Day 2011. Had a blast!