St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Exploring St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

St. Marks NWR is the gateway to the Panhandle Section of the Florida Birding Trail and offers brochures for all sections of the Trail and loaner binoculars to visitors. For more information on the Trail, please see http://www.floridabirdingtrail.com .

Trails on the St. Marks Unit

  1. Florida National Scenic Trail – crosses into the St. Marks Unit from the east and west. The entire segment of the 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.
    Florida National Scenic Trail Overnight Use Permit -- Visitor Must Have This Permit During Visit
                      Public Map East
                      Public Map West

  2. St. Marks Unit Primitive Walking 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 trailhead also. Open to foot, bicycle & horseback riding traffic.

  3. St. Marks NWR section of the Florida Circumnavigational Paddling Trail
      1. Segment 5 -- Crooked River/St. Marks Refuge (pdf)
      2. Segment 5 Index Map (jpg)
      3. Segment 5 Refuge Map 1 (jpg)
      4. Segment 5 Refuge Map 2 (jpg)
      5. Segment 5 Refuge Map 3 (jpg)
      6. Segment 5 Camping Application/Permit
      7. Section 5 -- Camping Permit Application Instructions

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

  5. 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 trailhead. Open to foot, bicycle and horseback riding traffic.

  6. Cedar Point Trail – ½ mile trail located at the salt water boat ramp, north parking lot. Open to foot traffic only.

  7. Plum Orchard Pond Trail – 1/3 mile long, with boardwalks, this trail is accessible behind the Visitor Center from the deck or from the parking lot. Easy walking, with interpretive signs. Open to foot traffic only.

  8. 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 trailhead 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.

  9. Create Your Own Trail – all levees and woodland roads are open to hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Make up a trail that meets your needs!

Visitor Information

Visitor Center – located 3 miles south of U.S. Hwy. 98 at Newport on Lighthouse Rd. (Co. Rd. 59). Open Monday – Friday – 8 am – 4 pm ; Saturdays and Sundays – 10 am – 5 pm . Closed on federal holidays. Restrooms, water, information, exhibits, gift shop. Phone: 850/925-6121. Website: http://www.fws.gov/saintmarks/ .

Entrance fees are charged on the St. Marks Unit. Check at toll booth or honor fee station for current prices. Annual and lifetime passes are available with some requirements.

Food & Lodging – there is no place on the refuge to buy food or stay overnight, but picnic tables, drinking water and restrooms are available. Nearby camping includes Newport Park, Ochlockonee River State Park, and Holiday Park. Lodging and/or restaurants can be found at Wakulla Springs State Park, and the towns of St. Marks, Shell Point, Spring Creek, Panacea, and Sopchoppy.

Canoes and kayaks can be rented at TNT Hideaway (7 miles west on U.S. Hwy 98 and the Wakulla River ); and Wilderness Way (18 miles north on State Hwy. 363/Woodville Hwy); Riverside Café in downtown St. Marks.

Hints for enjoying your visit : Bring your binoculars. Start early and stay late. Mammals and birds are most active during the early morning and late afternoon, especially during the warm months. Bring your field guides. The gift shop has books to help identify birds, wildflowers, and wildlife. Observe carefully – look up in the trees for wildlife, in the sky, on power lines, as well as in roadside vegetation and pools. WARNING – bring bug repellent and drinking water to the refuge during the warm months!

Last updated: May 29, 2013