We have finally made it back to Florida, though we aren’t at our home base for the holiday season yet. Right now, we’re in Crawfordville, FL, up in the Panhandle, though we head down the Gulf Coast tomorrow to spend a few days before routing more inland. But while we’re in Crawfordville, we decided to visit the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. One of the oldest wildlife refuges in the country, it was established in 1931 as a wintering ground for migratory birds. It covers 68,000 acres and several different types of coastal habitats, ranging from saltwater marshes, islands and several estuaries for different Florida rivers, including the St. Marks River. In the refuge is also the St. Marks Lighthouse, which is the second oldest lighthouse in Florida.
Our first stop was the Welcome Center. There is a small gift shop along with displays of the native wildlife you might encounter.
It also has one of the lights from the lighthouse.
There are several stops you can make along the way from the Visitors Center to the St. Marks Lighthouse, though we decided the lighthouse was our primary target.
The lighthouse is currently undergoing renovations, so we opted to take the Lighthouse Leeway trail, which is approximately 0.4 miles one way. There were plenty of things to see, including several variety of ducks and other water birds and Monarch butterflies.
The ducks seemed to follow us all the way to the end of the path.
It was a beautiful day to take a nature stroll along the Gulf Coast. The temperatures were in the low 60’s, so an average Florida winter day.
The price per car into the refuge is only $5, with pedestrians and bicyclists at $3 each. A very reasonable rate for a view of such amazing natural beauty. Located just about 20 miles outside of Tallahassee, this place is visually appealing. It marks the start of the Panhandle’s Great Florida Birding Trail, for those who are interested in birds as well as other Florida wildlife. There is something for every outdoor enthusiast in the refuge.