(Last Updated On: January 5, 2023)

hiking trail at St. Marks River Preserve State Park

When St. Marks River Preserve State Park opened in 2007 it became Florida’s 161st state park.

Situated just 10 miles from Tallahassee, the park encompasses 2,589 pristine acres which serves as a buffer zone for those who want to develop the area around the St. Marks River.

For this reason locals hold the park in high esteem, regularly visiting it for picnics, to enjoy wildlife watching and birding and also to partake in hiking, off-road biking and horseback riding along its multi-use trails.

This Florida state park is notable for its breathtaking landscape of hardwood thickets, pine forests and native plant species that flank the river banks.

While it is a scenic terrain to photograph, the river is not favorable to kayaking or canoeing. It is actually not even navigable within the park. Furthermore there are also no toilets or amenities available within it either,
However don’t let that put you off from coming here.

The park is a free public recreational space to visit and it is also a wonderful destination to escape the pressures of city life for a while.

sun shining through the fog at St. Marks River Preserve State Park

Activities

The park is open from 8 am until sundown every day of the year.

Those who visit it can choose to enjoy its scenic landscape in several different ways.

Outlined below is an overview of some of the main activities you can engage in while you are there.

Trails at St. Marks River Preserve State Park

Overall the park provides more than seven miles of multi-use trails for hiking, off-road biking and horseback riding.

Generally flat, these trails are quite sandy in nature. They also guide you through stunning eco-systems of shady wetlands and upland pines which provide you with plenty of opportunity to spot a wide range of wildlife. Be aware though, at times you will also come across low water crossings which will result in your feet getting wet.

The trails at the park do not lead you directly to St Mark’s River, however you should be able to see the headwaters of it from a couple of lookout spots.

When traversing the trails you should wear plenty of sunscreen, a hat, bug spray and very good walking shoes. Be sure to take lots of water for yourself and any supplies you need for your horse too.

If you plan to visit the park with your horse there should be more than enough parking space for trailers at the Tram Road trail head. This is situated about 6 miles to the east of W.W. Kelly Road.

lighthouse at St. Marks River Preserve State Park on a sunny day

Picnicking at St. Marks River Preserve State Park

The park offers a picnic area which is a lovely spot for visitors to enjoy an alfresco meal.

Providing lots of shade, this area is set within a beautiful locality and features a number of tables.

There are no grills here, so you won’t be able to cook anything. You will also need to take all your trash away with you when you leave the park.

Please note, the consumption of alcohol is also forbidden throughout St. Marks River Preserve State Park.

Birding at St. Marks River Preserve State Park

You’ll want to bring your binoculars with you to the park as you will be able to spot several different breeds of birds.

This includes the likes of hawks, ducks and owls. During the migratory season it also houses several wading and shore birds that use the park as a temporary rest stop.

For a full list of birds you can spot at St. Marks River Preserve State Park, it is worth contacting the main office for a birding checklist.

Nature & Wildlife

Much of the landscape around the park comprises floodplain forest, sandhill, flatwoods, bay heads and xeric hammocks.
There are also several species of gorgeous flowers in bloom around the springtime.

This varied terrain provides a natural habitat for a diverse range of wildlife species including bobcats, black bear, fox, raccoon, opossum, wild turkey, deer, snakes and fox squirrels.

sunset over the water at St. Marks River Preserve State Park

Pets at St. Marks River Preserve State Park

The park considers itself to be pet friendly although it does impose some restrictions on the presence of dogs within it.

For instance, they must always behave. They also should be kept on a leash that is no more than six feet in length and cleaned up after they have made a mess.

To gain a full understanding of the park’s pet policy it would be worth contacting the main office for further clarification.

Camping at St. Marks River Preserve State Park

Unfortunately, the park does not have any camping options directly onsite.

That said, there are plenty of campgrounds within a short driving distance where you can stay if you need overnight accommodation.

This includes the likes of the Goose pasture campground, which is a short driving distance away.

They offer a selection of lodges, cabins, RV and trailer sites with full hookups, rustic tent sites and primitive youth and group camping facilities for visitors to use.

Depending on which one you stay at, the range of amenities on offer differs. But you can expect them to include flush toilets and warm showers, as well as a playground and dump station. They might also have a swimming pool, laundry, playground and convenience store.

Should you prefer to stay somewhere that offers a few more home comforts, there are plenty of hotel, motel and Vrbo rooms available in nearby Tallahassee.

Park Location

St. Marks River Preserve State Park
11950 Tram Road
Tallahassee FL 32311
Phone: 850.487.7989

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