Welcome to Florida's Heartland!
Situated high atop the Lake Wales Ridge (the original backbone of the Florida peninsula) Highlands County offers one of the world’s most unique habitats! This beautiful area in Central Florida is bejeweled by over 100 freshwater lakes, many with deep, clear water and sandy shorelines!
The Lake Wales Ridge is a landscape of contrasts. It includes desert-like habitats, but absorbs 50 inches of rain most years. It is the highest point in peninsular Florida, but stands about 300 feet above sea level. It is an enormous sand dune, but the ocean has long since receded. Its scrub habitat is a forest, but of miniature scale.
Most of Florida is flat. An almost imperceptible change in elevation, as little as a few inches, can result in an amazing change in plant composition.
Lake Wales Ridge, rising at most, about 300 feet… contains a complex
patchwork of vegetation shaped by many factors including fire (now restored by
land managers), soil characteristics, and elevation.
Sandhills. On the Ridge's hilltops open pinelands called sandhills thrive. One hundred years ago, longleaf pine trees stood as natural pillars over much of Florida's high sandy hills. The open canopy allowed sunlight to nurture waist-high grasses and carpets of wildflowers. Historically these high pine forests covered a quarter of the state and much of the coastal plain throughout the southeast.
(Information taken from Archibald Biological Station web site.)