WAKULLA COUNTY OFFERS ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES FOR OUTDOOR ADVENTURES – EXPLORE WAKULLA’S NATURAL WONDERS!
Whether you’re interested in exploring natural trails, windsurfing and sailing on coastal waters, relaxing on quiet beaches, swimming and diving in beautiful natural springs, or kayaking down a river, Wakulla County is the place to be. The diverse environment of the area is unique to the natural northern region of Florida, which remains essentially undisturbed in order to preserve the natural integrity of the area. Gifted with 73 percent natural lands and 85 percent natural coastline, the county’s wealth of natural wonders provides for an abundance of outdoor activities.
Wakulla County is home to four major rivers – St. Marks, Wakulla, Sopchoppy, and Ochlockonee – all with different characteristics. Each of these rivers plays an integral part in providing many recreational activities for residents of the area and visitors alike. The Wakulla River often has crystal clear waters, making it a popular destination for boating, fishing, and canoeing. The river originates at the infamous Wakulla Springs, one of the nation’s largest and deepest freshwater springs. Visitors and locals flock to the Springs to swim, snorkel, and bask in the sun in warmer months. Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park offers daily guided riverboat tours, as well as glass bottom boat tours that allow visitors to more closely explore the diverse wildlife of the river, which includes majestic manatees. Beneath the surface of the Springs exists an underwater cave system, which is still being explored today. In the past, geologists have discovered fossils belonging to a prehistoric mastodon and sabertooth tiger in this cave system.
The St. Marks River is distinctive in that it is partly spring-fed and partly blackwater. Blackwater refers to a river with tea-colored water, a result of the presence of dissolved organic matter that is gathered as water travels through swamps and marshes. The river flows for about fifteen miles before reaching Apalachee Bay. Kayaking on the St. Marks River has been described as a zen-like experience, allowing visitors to become one with nature as they observe the wildlife of the area in their natural habitat. The Sopchoppy River is a blackwater river that defines the eastern edge of the Bradwell Bay Wilderness Area, part of the United States National Wilderness Preservation System. A paddling excursion on the Sopchoppy River will lead you through the picturesque scenery of the Apalachicola National Forest. The Ochlockonee River another popular paddling destination, as well as a favorite commercial and recreational fishing spot. Ochlockonee is home to a large variety of fish and shellfish that provide for the infamous seafood industry of Wakulla County.
TRAILS AND FORESTED AREAS
Wakulla’s waters offer so much to explore, but the outdoor fun doesn’t end there…the possibilities continue on land! Wakulla County contains an astounding area of 73 percent natural lands; nowhere else can visitors experience undisturbed, pristine natural areas like they can in Wakulla. The terrain of the area is perfect for a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, bicycling, jogging, horseback riding, and many more! Consisting of 564,961 acres, the Apalachicola National Forest is Florida’s largest National Forest. The forest contains two rivers and various trails, perfect for visitors looking for a challenging bike ride or hiking excursion. Hikers and bikers can expect to be amazed by the fauna of the forest; its diverse ecosystem contains longleaf pines, wiregrass, savannahs, and wetlands.
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 68,000 acres and is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the United States. St. Marks Lighthouse, located on the refuge near the Apalachicola Bay, is a popular destination as it represents a rich part of the area’s history. The Refuge contains 7 specified trails; visitors are also permitted to forge their own paths of exploration by creating their own trails, just as long as they do so with caution and respect for the natural environment and the native wildlife. Perhaps one of the most notorious trails in the Refuge is the Florida National Scenic Trail, one of only eight Scenic Trails in the United States. The trail stretches for 49.5 miles within the Refuge and is open to hikers and bicyclists. Visitors will feel as though they’ve been transported to another world as they take in the breathtaking scenery and wildlife at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.
The Big Bend Scenic Byway is accessible in areas of Wakulla County. The Byway is divided into two separate distinctions – the Coastal Trail and the Forest Trail, each offering a wealth of wonders for visitors to discover. Visitors can explore the Scenic Byway year-round, as each season has something special to offer. In Spring, wildflowers bloom and songbirds fill the air with their beautiful sounds. In the Summer months, swimming is a popular activity and wildlife nesting occurs. Fall brings butterfly and bird migrations and more wildflower blooms. Winter marks the peak of waterfowl migration – a popular attraction for avid birdwatchers.