Captain Forster Hammock Preserve Conservation Area
8650 Jungle Trail, Vero Beach, FL 32963
Latitude: 27°45'4.00" Longitude: -80°24'1.89"
Conservation Area Size:
Hours of Operation:
7:30 am - sunset, year-round
Open to Public:
- Parking spaces -15
- Handicap spaces - 1
- Restrooms – 1
- Water Fountain -2
- Walking Trails – ~1 mile
- Educational Signage
- Riverfront Dock & Fishing Area – 2 boats
**Access only from Jungle Trail**, No Guarded Area, No A1A Cross-walk, No Dune Cross-over, Dogs must be Leashed, No Alcohol, No Camping, No Overnight Parking, No Bicycles.
The Captain Forester Hammock Preserve is located one-mile south of County Road 510 on Historic Jungle Trail. This 110-acre conservation area includes several different habitats from the shoreline of the Indian River Lagoon to the Coastal Scrub as you venture to the dune abutting the oceanfront. east. The Captain Forster Hammock Preserve contains six distinct natural communities. These include sandy beach, mature oak hammocks, hydric hammock, depression marsh, tidal mangrove swamp, and coastal strand. The largest natural community within the conservation area is Maritime Hammock, which encompasses approximately 68% of the site and is one of the last remaining mature maritime hammocks in the county.
While visiting the Captain Forster Hammock Preserve, you may discover The Preserve offers a wonderful opportunity for interpretive education & passive recreation such as walking, bird watching, and nature discovery. Visitors will feel as if they have entered another time and place as they're enveloped in the majesty and splendor of the huge oaks in the maritime hammock, a rare site. While walking through the preserve, don't forget to look up into the large Live Oaks where you will see wild butterfly orchids and native bromeliads (all of which are protected by state law). During the winter, spring & fall make sure you keep your eyes open for migrating songbirds like the common yellow-throats, black and white warblers and others migrants that are stopping in for a rest. As your walk takes you east toward Warbler's Walk and Fern Gulch, notice the steady rise in topography and the drier, sandy soils. This is where the "Florida Inch" got its name. In a slight elevation change, the soils become noticeably drier and the air reflects the lower humidity. The plants also change, to more hardy, salt-tolerant species. These include the protected Simpson's Stopper as well as others like tough bumelia, prickly pear cactus and snowberry. You may even see a gopher tortoise or his burrow dug into the sandy soils.
The conservation area is a designated Great Florida Birding Trail (www.FloridaBirdingTrail.com).
Captain Frank Forster, the Preserve's namesake, was born in 1856 in Hamburg, Germany. His father was a college professor. At an early age, he ran away to a sailing career and sailed all over the world. Under the Homestead Act he acquired land north of where Wabasso Bridge is located today. There he built his first home and a dock for his sailing vessel, the Dood. He also established a post office, which he called Orchid and became the first postmaster in 1887. A one-room school, the Orchid School, was located on his homestead.
Captain Forster's first citrus grove was started in 1893, but unfortunately in the first few years of operation a freeze ruined his trees. Replanting immediately, Captain Forster expanded his crops to include cabbage, beans, guava and Easter lilies. His influence spread the fame of Indian River Fruit. The August 18, 1905 copy of the St. Lucie Tribune raved "It is doubtful if any grove on the coast makes a finer showing that that owned by Frank Forster, situated on the east side of the river. Mr. Forster has some twenty or thirty acres of bearing trees on rich hammock land, all in the pink of condition, and each season he ships many hundred boxes of fruit, which is of extra fine quality."
Captain Forster convinced many people to settle on Orchid Island by selling off portions of his holdings, which he had acquired through a Federal Land Grant. One of the early settlers who bought land from Captain Forster was the Michael family, whose descendants eventually sold their land that is now known as the Orchid Island Golf and Beach Club.
Another pioneering effort of Captain Forster was that he helped Henry Flagler obtain rights of way through the Vero Beach area in the 1890's. He was rewarded by obtaining the contract to sell fruit and vegetables to the dining cars.
We encourage the public to enjoy observing wildlife and learning about our conservation efforts by visiting our information kiosk at the entrance to the park off of Jungle Trail. Please remember to leave only footprints on site!