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Visitor Activities

  • Birding


    The seasons bring about marked changes in both species and abundance of birdlife. Best opportunities for observing the greatest variety and number of birds are during the fall and spring. Waterfowl are most easily seen on the refuge from mid-November through late December. Shore birds are most common during late spring and early fall.

    [Refuge Bird List]


  • Hiking



    Administrative roads and levees may be closed during prescribed burns, peak wildlife events, especially around eagle nests, shorebird and waterfowl areas. Please check with the Visitor Center, (850)925-6121, for the latest information concerning closures. 

    Florida National Scenic Trailenters 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


    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

    Hunt Regulations

  • Fishing


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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: Dec 05, 2016
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