Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory

  GULF SPECIMEN MARINE LABORATORY 222 CLARK DRIVE, PANACEA, FL  323406 PHONE: 850.984.5297   G.S.M.L. is a non-profit aquarium open to the public.  We offer a truly one of a kind experience because we feature not only sharks and sea turtles, but also the rarely seen invert See more details

San Marcos de Apalache

      Welcome to San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park The many different flags welcoming visitors to the park demonstrate the colorful history of this site, from the first Spanish explorers to the present day. The history of this National Landmark began in 1528 when Panfilo de Narvaez See more details

Apalachicola National Forest

  The Apalachicola National Forest is comprised of 564,961 acres on gently rolling flat terrain, and is the largest National Forest in Florida. Located located southwest of Tallahassee, it was established in 1936 on land that was in poor condition due to bad timber and turpentine producing pract See more details

Wildlife Watching

The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is home to a great diversity of creatures. As you browse through its miles of unspoiled natural habitat you can see animals and birds that aren't to be found anywhere else. As you are slowly driving the blacktop road that winds through the park, you are trea See more details

Ochlockonee River State Park

  Welcome to Ochlockonee River State Park This jewel of a park is a great place to get away for a weekend or a weeklong vacation. Picnic facilities and a swimming area are located near the scenic point where the Ochlockonee and Dead rivers intersect. Ochlockonee, which means "yellow waters," is See more details

St. Marks Trail

  Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail Florida's first designated state trail follows the abandoned railbed of the historic Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad. The trail runs almost due south from Tallahassee to the town of St. Marks, which is at the confluence of the St. Marks and See more details

St Marks Lighthouse

    Between 1828 and 1831, Congress appropriated $20,000 for building a lighthouse at St. Marks, Florida. The contract for the building was given to Winslow Lewis of Boston who built it for $11,765. Viewed from sea, it is easy to see why a lighthouse was needed here. With a low coast and many See more details

Wakulla Springs

The source of the Wakulla River is Wakulla Springs. Because of the karst topography, the eastern part of Wakulla is filled with freshwater springs, and circular groundwater fed ponds and sinkholes.  Early inhabitants dubbed the springs, "strange and mysterious waters," an accurate name because in See more details

Wakulla River

The Wakulla River originates from Wakulla Springs, reported as the largest in Florida. The springs and first 3 miles of the Wakulla River are located in the State Park. The clear, cool waters of the Wakulla River flow from Wakulla Spring nine miles to the St. Marks and offer great kayaking, canoei See more details

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

  Welcome to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park Home of one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world, this park plays host to an abundance of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, deer, and birds. Daily guided riverboat tours provide a closer view of wildlife, and glass See more details

Apalachee Bay Maritime Heritage Paddling Trail System

Trail Overview

 Be transported to a different time and place as you paddle Apalachee Bay's Ten Maritime Heritage Trails. Designed for enthusiasts of all levels, enjoy fishing, wildlife viewing, and photography as you explore one of Florida's last great bays, its inlets, rivers, and springs. Apalachee is one of the healthiest and most productive bays in the United States, providing a host of ecosystem services to an area that lacks industrial and commercial development. Most of the Bay's coastline is protected as part of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.
The Bay is bounded by the Ochlockonee River in the west and the Econfina River in the east. Named for the Apalachee Indian nation, Apalachee Bay is in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, occupying an indentation of the Florida coast known as the Big Bend region. It occupies a 412 km2 surface area with an 11,900 km2 drainage area. It is surprisingly shallow, with an average depth of 3.0m. Most trails occur in Wakulla County, between the Waterfront Florida Communities of Panacea in the west and St. Marks in the east and can be completed in 2-3 hours.

Paddling Trail Overview (PDF, 2.1MB)

 

 

Bicycles Welcome in Wakulla


Ochlockonee Bay Trail - Phase I Complete

The Ochlockonee Bay Trail will connect Sopchoppy to Mashes Sands Park, following CR372, Surf Road.  The trail will run through the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and some small beachfront communities providing a unique view of the Florida lifestyle, from the historic train depot in Sopchoppy to a beautiful beachfront park at Mashes Sands.

Phase 1 of the trail, connecting Mashes Sands Park and Tide Creek Drive has been completed.  This section is approximately 2.1 miles in length and makes for a beautiful "bike ride to the beach".  There is a trailhead at the park with picnic facilities and restrooms.

 

Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail

Florida's first designated state trail follows the abandoned railbed of the historic Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad. The trail runs almost due south from Tallahassee to the town of St. Marks, which is at the confluence of the St. Marks and Wakulla rivers.

The Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad was the first railroad under construction in Florida and the first in the nation to receive a federal land grant. Completed in 1837, the 20-mile line connected the territorial Capital with the Gulf port of St. Marks. Conceived and financed by leading planters and merchants, the railroad transported the prosperous cotton crop of the region for shipment to East Coast markets.

Initially, mules hauled open freight and passenger cars loaded with naval store and timber industry products. The rickety railbed prompted an earlier traveler to describe it as "the worst that has yet been built in the entire world." In the 1850s, the railroad was modernized and used to transport cotton. The Tallahassee-St. Marks railroad was distinguished as Florida's longest operating line, serving for 147 years. It is of rich historical significance as a pioneer enterprise that stimulated the region's commercial development and settlement.

In 1984, the Florida Department of Transportation purchased 16 miles of thecorridor to preserve the right-of-way. The recreational trail was constructed and is maintained by the Florida Park Service. The southern two miles of the trail has been designated a segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail, which continues on the other side of the St. Marks River to historic Port Leon and beyond. Hail a passing fisherman for a ride across the river.

The 16-mile paved St. Marks Trail follows the historic Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad line, passes through part of the Apalachicola State Forest and terminates at the small coastal village of St. Marks. The City of Tallahassee has extended this trail approximately 5 miles to the north into Tallahassee.

Activities permitted on the trail include bicycling, walking, jogging, skating, dog walking and horseback riding. A paved surface is available for pedestrians and cyclists. An adjacent trail is available for horses and their riders. Horseback riding should be confined to the designated trail or shoulder areas to avoid damaging the smooth bicycling surface.

This site opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. year-round.

A paved parking lot is located on State Road 363, just south of Tallahassee at the entrance of the trail.

 

Explore the Wonders of Wakulla

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’S WATERS
 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.

SCENIC BYWAY
 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.