Starting adjacent to the Visitor Center at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, the Plum Orchard Pond Trail is an easy half-mile loop that takes you out along Plum Orchard Pond, a gathering place for ducks, coots, and wading birds.
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Location: St. Marks
Length: 0.5 mile loop
Trailhead: 30.150867, -84.146867
Address: 1255 Lighthouse Rd, St. Marks FL 32355
Fees: $5 vehicle, $1 bicycle or pedestrian
Restrooms: at the parking area
Land manager: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Open sunrise to sunset. The gate on Lighthouse Rd opens at 6 AM and closes after dark.
Be alert to alligators along the refuge trails as they are a common sight.
Visit the Visitor Center before your hike to learn about the abundant bird life at the refuge.
From US 98 in Newport, just east of the St. Marks River, follow Lighthouse Road south about 3 miles until you reach the Visitor Center on the left.
Follow the loop counterclockwise to first walk along a boardwalk through the flatwoods under tall longleaf pines, emerging at the shores of Plum Orchard Pond. The trail continues along the shore of the pond to complete the loop. Birders will appreciate the excellent views across the pond, but be sure to watch for alligators!