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[ft-l] Thruhike of St.Marks National Wildlife Refuge
> Rotsa Ruck
> Where is the St Marks refuge?
> I'm new to the Fla trail assn.
> But I am a geezer.
St Marks National Wildlife Refuge is south of Tallahassee
along the Gulf of Mexico. FTA Maps 10 and 11. The Aucilla
Sinks lies to the east and the Apalachicola National Forest
to the west. It is the ONLY National Wildlife Refuge to
allow overnight camping and that priviledge is extended only
to people who hike the Florida National Scenic Trail from
one end of the Refuge to the other.
> I'm contemplating doing a thruhike of the Refuge the week
> December 1-7. Any advice from anyone about water near
> campsites, how to relieve the tedium of the US98 roadwalk,
> else of interest would be welcomed.
I think you'll really enjoy your hike in St Marks. I saw 7
bear during my week there. Six were in the section between
the Aucilla entrance and the Pinhook River. The 7th was
around Greenhouse Rd on the west end.
Check with the Refuge office, but I think you can pick up
the permits at the Vistors Center the day you start your
hike, provided their open hours coincide with your schedule.
None of the St Marks campsites have water at the sites, but
water is pretty close to all but one. Best way is to hike
east to west to catch the water sources before the camping
Campsites from east to west:
Pinhook - water from the river just east of the campsite.
Ring Levee - surrounded by water but water is brackish at
high tide, pick up water from the creek you cross on a log
about 1mile east of campsite (where FNST joins Main Levee).
Port Leon - potable water available from the Visitor Center
0.5 miles NE of campsite.
Wakulla River - until the route thru timber company land is
approved, you have to backtrack about 2 miles to get to this
campsite. Due to closure of 1000 feet of trail thru
private property the present route takes you down US 98 to
Wakulla Beach Rd so you bypass the section of trail with the
sawdust pile and campsite. There are a couple of low areas
nearby where you might find water, but no reliable water
Wakulla Field - pick up water at beautiful Shepard Spring
0.7 miles east of campsite.
Marsh Point - pick up water at Spring Creek 1.8 miles east.
Shell Island Fish Camp is a friendly place to stay in St
Marks if you are needing a shower by that time. It's just
off the St Marks trail, via Shell Island Rd. If you get in
after the marina closes, just pick out any room that is
unlocked and pay for it in the morning. Now that priviledge
in and of itself is enough reason to check it out. Hikers
have occasionally been allowed to tent camp in the little
city park on the river next to Posey's bar.
A lot of the US 98 roadwalk isn't really a "roadwalk". The
trail is actually in the trees along the north side of the
right-of-way. However, if the maintainers haven't gotten a
mower thru it recently, it's easier to walk along the road
because of the briars.