Tunneling through the shade of coastal cedars between an impoundment and the boat channel from the saltwater boat ramp to the Gulf of Mexico, the Cedar Point Trail is a short walk to the Gulf not far from the St. Marks Lighthouse.
Location: St. Marks NWR
Length: 0.6 mile
Lat-Long: 30.079395, -84.178459
Fees / Permits: $5 car, $1 cyclist/pedestrian
Bug factor: low to moderate
Restroom: at the Visitor Center on Lighthouse Rd.
A salt water boat ramp adjoins the trail, providing a place for boaters to quickly slip into the shallow Gulf of Mexico.
From US 98 in Newport, follow Lighthouse Drive south into St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and stop to pay the refuge fee at the iron ranger near the Visitor Center. Continue south slowly on the scenic drive to the end of the road. The trail shares the parking area with the boat ramp access on the left before you reach the lighthouse. It can be paired with the Lighthouse Levee Trail for a longer walk.
Look for the small wooden sign at the edge of the turnaround for the boat ramp area to find the trailhead. The path wanders directly into the shade of a hammock of cabbage palms and cedar trees, and spends the next quarter mile weaving in and out of shade, coming to broad spots with panoramas of the natural marsh to the north and across the canal dredged for boat traffic.
Trail’s end is at a natural beach on the Gulf of Mexico, where you may see masses of horseshoe crabs mating and nesting during the spring and summer. This is an excellent spot for birding and wildlife photography. It’s possible to follow the beach north for a stretch, but you may run into marshy spots, depending on the tide.