Hiking the Florida Panhandle
It's not an adventure until somebody screws up...
Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge
St Marks Wildlife Refuge is located on the coast south of Tallahassee from Ochlockonee Bay to the Aucilla River. The visitor center is on SR 59, south of Hwy 98 about halfway to the beach. There are a couple of short walking trails behind the visitor center, and a spur trail that will take you to the Florida National Scenic Trail. (Click here for a map of the area.)
Further down SR 59 is a spot where you can park and walk east out onto the dikes that form freshwater pools for visiting waterfowl. The pools are also home to many alligators. We saw several lying on the banks of a canal that runs on the north side of the dike we were on. The alligator below was further down SR 59 on the other side of a canal that runs by the road.
At the end of SR 59 is the St Marks Lighthouse. It's truly a beautiful sight with its white tower against a bright blue sky.
The areas of the refuge near the coast are mostly salt marsh. This is the terrain east of the lighthouse.
The above picture was taken from the observation platform just north of the lighthouse.
Across SR 59 from the platform is the Lighthouse Pool. It is brackish water that supports numerous waterfowl, wading birds and alligators.
West of the lighthouse is a short hike along a dike that separates the Lighthouse Pool from the Gulf. Monarch butterflies collect along this trail in October before making their flight across the Gulf to Mexico.
Looking back along the dike towards the lighthouse...