In the northeast corner of Harmony, at the end of Five Oaks Drive, you’ll find a rustic wooden gate and a footpath leading to Cat Lake. Follow it and within five minutes you’ll discover one of Harmony’s most pristine natural wonders. A majestic copse of live oaks springs up from the shoreline like a welcome sign as you walk up.
The 460-acre freshwater lake and surrounding wetlands are completely natural. No playgrounds, no boardwalks, no restrooms – Mother Nature in all of her glory. Come solo or bring your tribe. Either way, let Cat Lake inspire you to get outdoors and soak in the good vibes.
A Wealth of Wildlife
Because Cat Lake is undeveloped, its waters and the surrounding wetlands are brimming with animals. They live among the thick tree canopies and dense patches of knobby cypress knees that ring the lake.
Bring a pair of binoculars and increase your chances of spotting wild turkeys, red-shouldered hawks, white-tailed deer, armadillos, otters, and even alligators – all natives to our state. Don’t be surprised if you come across a cottonmouth or pygmy rattlesnake – two of the six venomous snake species found in Florida (and in Harmony!). Don’t worry, just be aware and stay cautious. Steer clear of all the wildlife, and don’t feed them either! Never feed wildlife. It not only violates certain laws, it’s dangerous to animals, people, and property.
Cat Lake and nearby Buck Lake (which has wooden boardwalks, fishing piers, and passive boating) are part of Jug Creek Swamp. The two lakes also connect with the town’s residential ponds, thus making Harmony part of a larger ecosystem where birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals can travel freely.
Living close to nature requires stewardship. Treat the animals and the land with respect, and remember to tread lightly!
A Piece of Peace
Most residents choose Harmony so they can come home to nature everyday. But Cat Lake is so secluded, it lets you really get away from it all. It’s a place to feel free, where you can completely relax and unwind. Connect with the stillness and tap into your own sense of inner peace. Nature’s soundtrack provides tunes that appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds.
Spending time outdoors is good for your health. It can improve mental and emotional outlooks, strengthen focus, and boost the immune system. A recent study from the National Academy of Sciences suggests connecting with nature could be vital for mental health as the world becomes more developed. Even self-proclaimed “city types” extoll the virtues of green spaces.
Several trails curve around Cat Lake and wind through the lush Florida forest and wetlands that surrounds it. Jug Creek Trail is one of the main ones found at the entrance on Five Oaks Drive. Closer to Town Square, follow the signs for Twisted Pine Point, where you’ll find a picnic table and a peninsula that juts out into the water. (It’s near a pasture so cows could be a’grazin nearby!) Either way you approach it, Cat Lake is a place where you’ll find a piece of peace.
Looking for a special place to get married, renew your vows, or spend some time with the special people in your life? Cat Lake can be reserved for weddings and primitive camping.
Imagine a bride and groom exchanging vows under the trees, its branches filtering light onto the happy couple. The main clearing along the shoreline of the Cat Lake makes for a memorable venue. Nature sets the scene for gatherings here. Harmony Golf Preserve can make all the arrangements, including receptions to follow lake ceremonies at the Harmony Clubhouse. Residents have the option to reserve Cat Lake independently for events.
Harmony residents also have the privilege of camping at Cat Lake. (Reservations are required in advance.) Because there are no facilities out there, it’s self-contained, primitive camping. There’s no electricity and no running water. You have to bring in all your own food, water, and supplies. You must also carry out ALL of your trash. There’s a fire pit at the main entrance, perfect for toasting marshmallows by moonlight. Primitive camping is tough, but those who crave adventure are sure to enjoy the challenge and relish the rewards. Remember, “roughing it” for a night is easier when you prepare.
Bring water, sunscreen, bug repellant, and wear closed-toed shoes. Whether you’re going for a few hours, a few minutes, or overnight. And if you’re going on an extended hike, take a compass and let people know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Now that you’re in the know, go ahead and explore, relax, and appreciate life out at Cat Lake. What are you waiting for?