In July 1900, James S. Castellow filed a claim on 160-acres in what is now known as the Redland Farming District. He began carrying citrus trees from the town of Cutler, near Biscayne Bay, to his homestead and became one of the earliest citrus farmers in Florida. He built a small house out of pines that he harvested and had milled by Wellington Blood Hainlin, whose sawmill was located at the northwest corner of Redland Road and present-day Hainlin Mill Drive.

     Hugh Matheson, Jr., who had purchased the property in the 1950s, originally offered to trade the land for Kendall Wayside Park along US1. Although tempting, one of the early goals of the Parks Department was to preserve open spaces along US1, so the land trade deal was refused. The property was later purchased in 1962, which included the tropical hardwood forest known by tree snail collectors and botanists as Castellow Hammock. In 1974 Castellow Hammock was opened as a Dade County park and was one of the first environmental education centers in what was then Metro Dade County Parks Department.

     Today, the park is well known to bird and butterfly enthusiasts, botanists, and those who simply enjoy being close to nature. And, because the park is such a supreme place to see birds, it is included as a destination along the 2000-mile Great Florida Birding Trail established by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

     A tropical hardwood forest covers most of the park, and a half-mile self-guided nature trail offers visitors a view of the forest interior. Over 120 bird species have been reported from the park, along with 70 species of butterflies. Resident mammals include raccoons, opossum, gray squirrels, southern flying squirrels, gray fox, and short-tailed shrews. An interesting array of reptiles and amphibians can sometimes be seen too, including the colorful, but venomous, Eastern coral snake.

     A large hummingbird & butterfly garden graces the front of the park, and has become a focal point for visitors with a desire to see hummingbirds and a wide variety of butterflies. The nature center is used as an indoor classroom and also features some environmental displays, including a butterfly collection that showcases 61 species of resident butterflies.

     Castellow Hammock Park naturalists offer a variety of educational classes. Park staff also offers guided EcoAdventure tours, which include canoe trips, kayak fishing excursions, biking in Everglades National Park, and biking through the historic Redland Farming District. For children, the park offers a summer nature day camp.

     If you’ve not visited Castellow Hammock Park, you’re missing one of the best-kept secrets in the Miami-Dade Parks Department.

another view of the entrance

another view of the entrance

entrance to the nature trail

entrance to the nature trail

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