Big Tree Park is a small forest of ancient trees in the larger Spring Hammock Preserve. It is situated at 761 General Hutchinson Parkway, in Longwood between US 17-29 and SR 427 and provides access to the Cross Seminole Trail. Open to the public from 8.00 am to dusk, this small park is just 0.3 miles long and has picnic tables, restrooms, and a short boardwalk from which to view the former site of the fifth oldest bald cypress tree in the world as well as numerous other spectacular trees, one of which is more than two thousand years old.
This popular tourist destination takes visitors a step back in time as they make their way along the boardwalk through a natural hammock swamp to view the former site of ‘The Senator’, a National Champion Bald Cypress approximately 3,500 years old that was lost forever in January 2012 to fire. It was first thought that the fire was caused by lightning, however, it was later established that it was the work of an arsonist who lit a fire that got out of control. Since then, a memorial has been developed that includes a newly renovated boardwalk with interpretive signage, a clone of The Senator called ‘The Phoenix’, and a piece of playground equipment that mimics the stump of a bald cypress tree.
Settlers and Native American Indians such as the Seminoles who lived throughout the Central Florida area used this enormous tree as a regional landmark and from the late 19th century its massive height began to attract visitors to the site, even though the only way to reach the tree was by jumping from log to log through the swamp. Later the Works Progress Administration constructed a walkway for easier access. During the hurricane of 1925, like most big trees, the top of this massive tree broke off.
The 129 feet tall cypress was named after Senator M. O. Overstreet who donated the tree and the land surrounding it to Seminole County. Interpretive signs along the boardwalk explain the ages of the iconic grand cypress as well as other massive trees that grow in that corner of Spring Hammock. Adjacent to the charred remains and historic marker of The Senator is an observation deck. Just around the corner is ‘The Lady Liberty’, known as the queen of the forest. A massive tree in her own right, this 2000-year-old cypress is so tall that capturing its complete stature can only be achieved by craning the neck in a panoramic view. Big Tree Park is part of Spring Hammock Preserve where more ancient cypress trees are hidden in the woods along with the trail system. The Florida Trail along the Cross Seminole Trail passes by the Big Tree Park entrance which is a good place to park while day hiking or as a stop for long-distance hikers to take a break.
At the time of its demise in 2012, The Senator was 125 feet tall and its trunk had a diameter of 17.5 feet. Named as the companion tree to The Senator, Lady Liberty stands about 40 feet from where The Senator stood and is also among the oldest cypress trees in the world. It is 89 feet high and 10 feet in diameter and estimated to be about 2,000 years old.
After walking around the park you may be ready for some refreshment at Ay Que Rico, Cakes By Enid, 3521, 2520 N Ronald Reagan Blvd #156, Longwood, FL 32750
If in need of some spirtually there are several churches in the area for all failths like Nativity Catholic Church, 3255 N Ronald Reagan Blvd, Longwood, FL 32750
After church if you would like to work in yard you can get everything you need at Six Flags Nursery Supply LLC, 1600 N Ronald Reagan Blvd, Longwood, FL 32750
Now if for some reason yuou like llamas, there is a ranch nearby at Heyd Out Llama Ranch Inc, 403 Lazy Acres Ln, Longwood, FL 32750
If you want to take the kids to a playground look no further than Shadow Hill Park, 148 Sunset Dr, Longwood, FL 32750
Like to play pool? Contact Action Billiards, 2171 Deer Hollow Cir, Longwood, FL 32779
Lake Mary Sprinklers is also nearby at 165 Pine Street, Lake Mary FL 32765
For something to do on Saturdays try the Longwood Farmers Market