Highlands County High Point Trip Report

Date: December 14, 2002
Author: Gene Daniell

I arrived at the Archbold Station in the early afternoon on a Saturday and found the office closed with nobody in sight to ask for permission to hike to the high point. According to information at the kiosk, after signing a waiver of liability (which warned of inclement weather and wild beasts) visitors were free to walk about on the nature trail and paved roads. Since the road to the high point is a paved road, and taking Fred Lobdell's experience into consideration, I decided to give myself permission to hike it in spite of the gate with the No Hunting - No Trespassing sign. It was easy enough to step over the chain and lock in the middle. Very soon I was passed by a young female jogger descending the road, who greeted me pleasantly; I watched as she stepped through the gate in the same manner that I had done. I would guess she was a local and that - coupled with Fred's experience - they are not really too concerned about hikers, joggers, and the like. I don't think they'd be happy if you tried to drive up there, though. For those who'd like to be completely legal but might not arrive during normal business hours, here's some contact information from their website:

Archbold Station
P.O. Box 2057
Lake Placid, FL 33862

Phone: 863-465-2571
FAX: 863-699-1927

The highpoint is one of a series of ancient sand dunes formed when the sea level was significantly higher, and the Archbold Station exists to preserve and study the flora and fauna of this ecosystem - a few bucks for the kitty from those who enjoy their hospitality would, I'm sure, be appreciated. They claim that over 1100 scientific articles and books have drawn on research conducted at their facility. One of the areas is located at a small northern loop off the main loop or between it and a sand road that runs north from the eastern corner of the main loop. For the other three, a sand road that runs south from the lookout tower crosses two of them; I went all the way to the south property boundary, which according to the map is 10 feet lower than the high points (but I wasn't all that sure), then I came back to the more northerly of the two bumps (there isn't much of a dip between them) then turned east along a faint trail that ran along the edge of the cleared area near the tower to a crossroads, then followed a woods road south through mature forest until my GPS said I was about 50 yards east of the summit. I bushwhacked west through fairly thick scrubby woods, feeling like I was going very slightly uphill all the way, until I came back out on the sand road. It's hard enough to identify the higher points in the open areas; in the scrub you have to hope you've found whatever there is to find.