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Visitor Activities

  • Hiking

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    Trails

    Florida National Scenic Trail – enters the St. Marks Unit from the east and west. The entire segment of the Florida Trail on the refuge is 49.5 miles. Camping permits for through hikers are available at the Visitor Center. Open to foot & bicycle traffic only.

    Trail and Camping Information, and Camping permits.

    Plum Orchard Pond Trail - located behind the Visitor Center and Nature's Classroom.

    Primitive Trails – Deep Creek is 12 miles; Stoney Bayou is 6.5. Both trails start 1.5 miles south of the Visitor Center on Lighthouse Rd. Trails follow old logging roads and levees around refuge pools. Great for seeing shy wildlife and migratory birds. Map at trail head also. Open to foot, bicycle & horseback riding traffic.

    Headquarters Pond Trail – this ¼ mile trail is located across from the Tower Pond trailhead provides access to a small wooden observation deck at the edge of the pond. Named for an old refuge headquarters site, this pond is great for wading birds, ducks, wood storks and bald eagles. Open to foot & bicycle traffic only.

    Tower Pond Trail – (also known as Mounds Trail), it is located 5 miles south of Visitor Center, with parking next to the restrooms. The trail has a leaflet at the trail head and winds for one mile through slash pine forests, oak hammocks, and salt marsh. Tower Pond is now being managed as a saltwater lagoon for migratory songbirds, ducks, and wading birds. Open to foot and bicycle traffic only.

    Cedar Point Trail – located near the saltwater boat ramp, this is a ½ mile trail open to foot traffic only.

    Lighthouse Levee Trail – located at the end of Lighthouse Rd. at the right of the parking lot, this ½ mile trail has interpretive focuses on coastal plants. Leaflet at the trail head. Open to foot, bicycle and horseback riding traffic.

    Create your own – all levees and woodland roads are open to hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Make up a trail that meets your needs! See refuge map.

  • Hunting

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    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage. Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciation of wildlife, their behavior, and habitat needs.

    As practiced on refuges, hunting, trapping and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management.  For example, because their natural predators are gone, deer populations will often grow too large for the refuge habitat to support.

    Hunting programs promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System.

     

    The St. Marks NWR holds several hunts on portions of the refuge. In 2012, a special youth hunt was established.

    To learn more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations on the St. Marks NWR, contact David Moody at (850)925-6121 or david_moody@fws.gov.

    Hunt Regulations 2014-15 

  • Fishing

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    In addition to the conservation of wildlife and habitat, the Refuge System offers a wide variety of quality fishing opportunities.  Fishing programs promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on all lands and waters in the Refuge System.  Every year, about 7 million anglers visit national wildlife refuges, where knowledgeable staff and thousands of volunteers help them have a wonderful fishing experience.

    Quality fishing opportunities are available on more than 270 national wildlife refuges.  Visitors can experience virtually any type of sport fishing on the continent. From inconnu and grayling in remote Alaska, to snook hovering by mangroves in Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, national wildlife refuges offer anglers adventure and diversity.

    For a great place to reconnect with a favorite childhood activity or to try it for the first time, make plans to fish at a national wildlife refuge soon.

     

    The St. Marks NWR provides opportunities for both fresh and salt water fishing. In addition to many lakes, ponds, creeks and rivers, the refuge has two boat launching sites for access to Apalachicola Bay.

    Find more information with our on-line Guide to Fishing on National Wildlife Refuges.

     

  • Wildlife Viewing

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    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit to your nearest national wildlife refuge!  From birding to whale watching, from viewing speedy pronghorn antelope or slow-moving box turtles, wildlife observation is the most popular activity for refuge visitors.

    From every state and all parts of the globe, about 40 million people visit each year, especially for the chance to see concentrations of wildlife and birds. The National Wildlife Refuge System’s extensive trail system, boardwalks, observation decks, hunting and photography blinds, fishing piers and boat launches encourage visitors to discover America’s best wildlife spectacles.

     

    The St. Marks NWR has more than 150 miles of refuge roads, levee, and developed trails are used by many visitors for wildlife viewing, hiking, backbacking and jogging. Over 40 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) cross the refuge. The refuge has approximately 1.5 miles of interpretive trails. Find more information in our publications and Maps pages.

  • Photography

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    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started. A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list. Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes. Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System. We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive!

     

    At St. Marks NWR we offer beginning nature photography classes and have an active photography club whose mission is to promote the St. Marks NWR. Each year a photo contest is held to encourage photographers to capture and share images of the refuge.

     

    Learn more about the St. Marks NWR Photoclub 

  • Interpretation

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    Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world. From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

     

    In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors. Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species.

    Through Refuge System interpretation programs, you can learn how translocation of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers at St. Marks NWR is used to re-build their population, about the beneficial role of wildfire to encourage native vegetation to grow, and thousands of other interesting and informative stories.

  • Environmental Education

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    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources. Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences. Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities. Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

     

    Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of a particular national wildlife refuge? Contact or visit the St. Marks NWR to check on program availability and reservation policies. Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

Last Updated: Aug 05, 2014
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