Saint Lucie County High Point Trip Report

Date: January 14, 2004
Author: Michael Schwartz

I describe only three areas, since the area at Jones Hammock overlaps into two quads.

Approach: From FL 70, 1.3 miles west of the St. Lucie/Okeechobee line, go south on NE 128 Avenue for 3.2 miles to Center Street, OR, from FL 710, 1.2 miles west of the Martin/Okeechobee line, go north on SE 128 Avenue for5.1 miles to Center Street. NE/SE 128 Avenue is known locally as Berman Road, and shown as such by Delorme. Take Center Street one mile east to the county line, and a gate to the Hanley Landscape Company. I visited with Mike Hanley in June 2003, and although not the owner of Jones Hammock or the area to the south-southeast, he felt that the landowners to the north and south-southeast would probably not object to hikers visiting the highpoints. The weather in June was too stormy and hot for my tastes. This time, I parked my car near his gate, and left a note to Mr. Hanley reminding him of my June visit and that I had returned to visit the highpoints. The car was there for over four hours, and was undisturbed.

one area 1 mile south-southeast of Jones Hammock (60+ ft)

This area, as are the others, is very flat, and GPS is a BIG help. Spot elevation 60 in the highpoint area is 0.58 mile from parking, bearing 148 degrees. From the Hanley gate, at the track road junction shown on the topo just north of spot elevation 59, hike south on the road, which does not bend southeast as shown, but instead continues due south. Where the bend is shown are two gates which afford access into the pasture. Be prepared to crawl under a few fences. Hike southeast, and eventually reach a deep, wet slough. Work south along the slough to a road that crosses it, then head back roughly northeast about 500 feet to the center of the highpoint area. The terrain is so flat that no rise is discernible. Seeing the 60-foot spot elevation inside the 60-foot contour made me wonder if the edge of the contour is 59.5+ feet, rounded up to 60, and the spot elevation is actually 60 feet.

one area at Jones Hammock (60+ ft)

From parking, hike north on a pretty good field road toward the hammock. Where the road crosses the 60- foot contour, the road passes through a gate and angles east. Continue due north along the county line fence, following (no kidding) a well-worn cow path. The hammock is totally cleared west of the fence and for a few feet east of the fence. You can see spot elevation 62 in the pasture west of the fence, a circular area about 50 feet wide and a couple of feet higher than the rest of the pasture, quite possibly manmade. Everything else is flat. I penetrated the hammock in several places, again following cow paths, and found nothing higher than a few tree bumps. Continuing north along the fence, I passed north of the hammock and approached the large swampy area north of spot elevation 54.

one area 1 3/4 miles north of Jones Hammock (60+ ft)

I entered the swamp, penetrated by cow paths, and got out my machete. The next six-tenths of a mile involved pure bushwhacking through always muddy, occasionally very wet, scrubby stuff. I stayed on a due north heading when possible, and even found some remnants of the county line fence in the middle of the swamp. The cows apparently traverse the entire swamp. Did not see a single critter, four or six legged, but spotted some spectacular spiders and blundered into some huge webs. This bushwhack would be a nightmare in wet and warmer weather. Once out of the swamp, I immediately found the fence and followed it north over easy terrain. The liner highpoint is within a few feet of a medium-sized pine tree right along the fence, the only such tree in sight. Look for a pink "spooky" ribbon on the tree.

From the tree, rather than return south through the swamp, I hiked a little south of west toward Berman Road, opting for a longer, but easier return. Any wet areas were bypassed. I eventually picked up a field road at a water trough, leading back to the highway. Near the road was a large herd of cattle that came over to check me out. The field road led to a somewhat overgrown metal gate at a very small asphalt pullout, 2.1 miles north of Center Street on Berman Road. Using GPS, I measured the distance back to the highpoint pine tree at 1.05 miles, bearing 082 degrees. This is obviously the better route to the northern highpoint, but I have no idea as to who owns the land between Berman Road and highpoint.

The hike from parking to the northern high point took 1 hour 40 minutes, and the two-mile longer return via Berman Road took about twenty minutes less.