Wakulla County, 30 miles south of Tallahassee, is mostly undeveloped forest wilderness, salt and freshwater marshy waterfront, and a few stretches of sand beach. These vast areas are all in protected sanctuaries. Only eight paved roads lead to this coast with four small sand "beaches"; the best, Mashes Sand and Shell Point beaches, are two quiet county parks with a few hundred feet of sandy shore. Wakulla Beach is primarily a boat launch and parking area with small stretches of sand often covered by mud. St. Marks Lighthouse Beach is primarily grassy marsh with patches of sand. Its 1828 lighthouse still lights Apalachee Bay for navigators.
Wakulla Springs State Park, the county's most notable claim to fame, has one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world and was the site of 1900s Tarzan movies. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and National Landmarks. Open year-round, it offers fine dining at its historic 1937 lodge and restaurant, and boat tours on the Wakulla River. Tour boat guides chronicle the area history and point out the abundant wildlife. At another National Landmark, San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park's museum displays area history from 1528 Spanish explorers.
The pristine, deep Ochlockonee River flows along this western boundary from Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico in Ochlockonee River State Park, a popular place to canoe, fish, catch blue crab or camp, and home to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
This wild coast is edged by St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the immense Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve, one of the most pristine places in Florida and second-largest contiguous span of seagrass in the eastern Gulf. The refuge is divided into three areas covering parts of Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties: the St. Marks Unit, refuge headquarters, is a favorite of birders and outdoor enthusiasts. Its main road winds seven miles to the St. Marks Lighthouse on Apalachee Bay. The primitive Wakulla Unit has no facilities, 5.5 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail and a small-boat access to the bay. The Panacea Unit mostly pine, oaks and freshwater lakes, offers a picnic area, restrooms and small-boat launch at Otter Lake Recreation Area and 6.5 miles of the scenic trail. Wakulla's Apalachicola National Forest is the largest forest in Florida with 2,735 acres of streams, rivers, lakes, and natural springs as well as Leon Sinks, Apalachee Savannas and 67 total miles of the scenic trail for hiking enthusiasts.
February 10, 2020 - 1:04pm
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.