Come Explore Our Wonderous Rivers
Wakulla is blessed with four distinctly different major rivers. The St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers to the east, and the Sopchoppy and Ochlockonee Rivers to the west. Since most rainwater falling onto the Woodville Karst Plain immediately sinks underground, few surface streams develop in the eastern part of the county. The rivers and streams are formed primarily from underground springs. The rivers of Wakulla play an important part in the area's history. Early habitants such as the Apalachee Indians settled along river banks and bays where fish and shellfish were in abundance. In the 1800's the St. Marks River provided the basis of a lucrative cotton transport business which in turn supported the establishment of five towns along the river bank. In 1843, Newport on the St. Marks River, was the fifth largest town in Florida with a population of 1,500. At the turn of the century, many sawmills were established along creeks flowing into the Ochlockonee River. Today, the beauty and recreational opportunities of the rivers in Wakulla play an important role in drawing visitors and residents to the area. The communities of St. Marks, Newport, Sopchoppy and Ochlockonee Bay are each located near a river in Wakulla. The St. Marks, Sopchoppy and Ochlockonee Rivers are classified as blackwater rivers, Blackwater rivers are characterized by a tea-colored look. Waters that drain through swamps and marshes, picking up dissolved organic matter, have this naturally dark appearance.
The Wakulla River looks very different. It is crystal clear. The water in the Wakulla River originates underground and flows to the surface at Wakulla Springs. The crystal clear waters of the Wakulla River make it a popular place for boating, fishing, and canoeing.
The St. Marks, Sopchoppy and Ochlockonee Rivers originate from overland waters. At the southern end of the St. Marks River, clear spring water joins the dark water, making the St. Marks River partly blackwater and partly spring-fed.
The St. Marks River disappears underground near the historic site of Natural Bridge, and reemerges in Wakulla a short distance to the south of St. Marks Spring. The area where the river flows underground forms a natural bridge across the water, thus the name. The river meanders for about fifteen miles before entering the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachee Bay. The Wakulla and St. Marks Rivers join a few miles north of the bay at point where Spanish explorers built Fort San Marcos De Apalache in 1679, near the city of St. Marks
The Sopchoppy River located in the western portion of Wakulla, is a beautiful little river with high, narrow limestone banks and unique cypress tree formations. Water softly trickles from these banks giving a sense of a more mountainous terrain. Picturesque gnarls and hollows of the old cypress tree trunks give the area a feeling of a natural magical fantasyland, where the comings and going of fairies seems a possibility. The river is under federal consideration for designation as a Wild and Scenic River. A short distance before the river enters the Gulf, it joins the Ochlockonee River to form Ochlockonee Bay.
Originating in Georgia, the Ochlockonee River flows 300 miles south to the Gulf of Mexico. The river forms the western boundary of Wakulla County and is a vital link in the production of seafood. During flood stages the river picks up organic matter and transports it downstream into the estuary of Ochlockonee Bay.
The estuary serves as a nursery for numerous species of fish and shellfish which are the basis for recreational and commercial fishing as well as the world-famous seafood that this area is known for. The Ochlockonee River is a state designated Outstanding Florida Water and a well-known canoe trail.