St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge - Hiking

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The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge offers something for every type of hiker, from a half mile walk across boardwalks to an overnight backpacking trip along the Florida National Scenic Trail. You can choose to hike through a forest or swamp, across levees and marshes, or along the shore of Apalachee Bay, or choose to hike all of them.

Written by

Kelsey Kalinski


2.0 miles

There are several short nature trails along the Lighthouse Road. If these are done, they add up to approximately 2 miles. However, the primitive trails and the Florida National Scenic Trail allow for much longer hikes for anyone wanting to take on a challenge.

Destination Distance From Downtown

96.8 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

This is a coastal wildlife refuge with no elevation gain. However, during the late spring and summer, the warm weather and insects can increase the difficulty level.

Time To Complete

2 hours

You can spend anywhere from an hour here to a day or even do an overnight backpacking trip on the Florida National Scenic Trail, which passes through the refuge. Most visitors spend approximately 2 hours.


All Seasons

This refuge is open year-round, but it is better to go during cooler weather as many of the trails are in full sun. There are mosquitoes, gnats, and biting flies during the summer also, so insect repellent is recommended.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash at all times. Poisonous snakes and alligators are very common here, so make sure you are always aware of your surroundings.

Fees Permits


There is a $5 fee per vehicle entering the refuge or $1 per pedestrian/bicyclist. An annual pass to this wildlife refuge can be purchased for $25, and an annual pass to all national lands can be purchased for $80. These passes are sold in the visitor center at the refuge.



The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge was created in order to provide a refuge for migratory birds. It is also a refuge for alligators, bobcats, the Florida black bear, white-tailed deer, and countless other species. This refuge provides many recreational opportunities for people also, including hiking, boating, cycling (on and off road), and fishing, among many others.

Less than 25 miles south of Tallahassee, the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge has a hike for any ability. Some trails are a half mile in length, while the Florida National Scenic Trail runs through the refuge for over 49 miles.

What Makes It Great

When you reach the refuge, go straight to the visitor center to see examples of the wildlife that you might find on your hike. There is no drinking water available past this point so make sure you bring plenty with you. Behind the visitor center you will find a short trail with boardwalks and informative displays. This trail is great for families with small children. Approximately 1.5 miles past the visitor center, on the left side of the road, is the trailhead for the Deep Creek and Stoney Bayou primitive trails. There are signs marking the turns and stating the distance, or you can continue straight from the trailhead to reach the Pinhook River. This will be 12 miles round-trip and there is a primitive campsite that you can reserve near the river.

As you drive along the Lighthouse Road, you will find levees with parking areas and trails. These do not provide any shade but you should have a refreshing breeze and you are sure to see wildlife here. There is a one mile trail around the picnic area pond. You can park at the restrooms and you will find the trailhead in the parking lot. When you reach the lighthouse, you will find two half mile trails, or you can walk along the shore of Apalachee Bay.

Who is Going to Love It

Hikers of all ages will enjoy taking a hike here. Families with small children will enjoy the displays behind the visitor center. Bird watchers will enjoy year-round opportunities to see many migratory species. The Florida National Scenic Trail allows hikers to take an overnight backpacking trip or a full day of hiking. This is a great place to start getting into hiking, as all of the trails are flat and wide, and lack the tree roots that pose a hazard on many other trails in the Tallahassee area.

The drive along Lighthouse Road offers spectacular views and incredible wildlife viewing opportunities for members of the family that are unable to join in the hiking.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Lighthouse Road is off of Highway 98 in Wakulla County. From Tallahassee, take South Monroe Street south from the Capitol through Woodville, and turn left on Highway 267, at the traffic light approximately 5 miles south of Woodville. When you reach the stop sign at US Highway 98, take a left and cross the bridge over the St. Marks River. Lighthouse Road/County Road 59 is on the right just past the bridge. Follow this road to the toll booth and continue to the visitor center. The lighthouse is approximately 6.5 miles from the visitor center on the same road.

There is a $5 entrance fee per vehicle entering the refuge. Annual passes can be purchased at the visitor center. A pass to the refuge for a year is $25, and a pass to all of our federal lands is $80.

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St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

1255 Lighthouse Road
St. Marks, FL, 32355
30.187816, -84.16854

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