The northern end of the newly opened Shingle Creek Regional Park was once the home of the Babb Family, who were born and raised in Kissimmee and owned citrus groves that still stand on this land today. The park offers a quiet retreat and a peek into Kissimmee’s rich agricultural history right in the heart of thriving U.S. Hwy. 192.
The Babb property is just one mile north of Highway 192 but guests will feel they have been transported back in time. Several historic structures, soon to be restored, dot the land, as do countless citrus trees, soaring palm trees and winding hiking trails. Bald eagles, wild turkey, eastern bluebirds, great blue heron, wood duck, woodpeckers, yellow-bellied slider turtles, white-tailed deer, raccoons and river otters in their natural environment all call this area home. Future development includes additional hiking and paddling trails, a bike path, a nature center, playgrounds and picnic areas.
Two-hundred acres in Shingle Creek Regional Park opened to the public in January 2009, offering a glimpse into a different life and time in Florida.
Hiking and paddling trails traverse natural cypress dominated wetland and uplands of oak and pine while passing by several original pioneer structures built between the 1890’s and 1930’s. Site amenities also include trailhead parking, picnic areas, park benches and restrooms.
Shingle Creek Regional Park is a project funded by several local government entities in an effort to preserve the land around the headwaters to the Everglades. Already 1,033 acres have been purchased piecemeal by the city of Kissimmee and Osceola County or in joint ventures, using a variety of national and state grants.
The part of the park now accessible to the public will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October through March and for two extra hours in the evening during the rest of the year. The Babb property includes parking, a restroom, 1.25 miles of hiking trails, a children’s play area and a horseshoe pit. Steffee Landing also boasts a fishing dock and two miles of creek for families to explore in their own canoe or kayak. Eventually, officials hope to open more hiking and biking trails with signs to mark them.
A few years ago, the Babb homestead, which officials had talked about converting into a museum, was destroyed in an arson fire. Though it could be rebuilt in the future, the remaining work buildings and garages will be restored in the second phase of the regional park.
The Babb property, on the north end of the park, is off Babb Road, west of Kissimmee. To get to Babb Road, turn onto Old Vineland Road from U.S. Highway 192. Babb Road intersects Old Vineland Road from the north.