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Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail
Reported: May 2012
On the bed of Florida's first chartered rail line, Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail is also the oldest rail-trail in Florida, having opened in 1988. The trail runs 16 miles between St. Mark's and Tallahassee, plus a 4 mile link into downtown Tallahassee. Rest stops, restrooms, parks, and picnic areas are located along the trail. It's a historic area, we include some interesting side trips as well. (Map link and photos below.)
Map link... Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail
Location: Leon and Wakulla Counties
End Points: Tallahassee (SR 262 & SR 363) to end of SR 363 at St. Marks River.
Mileage: 20 miles
Surface: Asphalt, 8-12'
Nearby points of interest: St. Marks Lighthouse, San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge, Florida State University
The Great Bicycle Shop (Tallahassee; rentals, sales, service)
Support and Advocacy:
Friends of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
The trail starts in St. Marks near the conjunction of the Wakulla and St. Marks Rivers. At St. Marks is parking, with restaurants, water, and restrooms nearby. We found the 7 miles from St. Mark's to Wakulla Trailhead most pleasant, off-road and shaded - Wakulla County is rural and sparsely populated, and the trail here reflects that. There are a few road crossings, use normal caution. The busiest crossing is at Bloxham Road, from here the trail runs alongside Old Woodville Road, but still quiet and shaded to Wakulla Trailhead (parking, restrooms, water, picnic facilities, and a Boundless Playground). (Reported: May 2012)
Past Wakulla Trailhead, the trail continues alongside Old Woodville Rd., about 6 miles (MM 9) to J. Lewis Hall Sr. Park and Recreation Complex (Woodville, parking, restrooms, picnic, playground, athletic fields). Just past the trailhead, Old Woodville Rd. feeds into Woodville Hwy. - a busier road - another 3 miles to the Capital Circle Trailhead (the main trailhead - parking, water, restrooms, picnic pavilion). In this section, the trail continues to run roadside but with a mostly wide buffer. You'll pass more crossroads, and last 2-3 miles approaching the trailhead can get crowded so keep aware and exercise good trail etiquette.
The trail runs to Capital Circle SE, crossing the road the connector continues 4 miles northbound to Gamble St. near Florida State University and Florida A&M University (FAMU). The first 2 miles is along the roadway, then it turns off onto a greenway.
More biking nearby:
From Tallahassee Trailhead:
From the end of the connector at Gamble St.:
The St. Marks Lighthouse, a National Historic Monument, dates from 1842 (replacing an even earlier one built in 1831). Repaired after damage during the Civil War, it was automated in 1960. The light was removed during extensive restoration work in 2014-19, but was re-lit in October 2018. The Lighthouse is located on Apalachee Bay at the end of Lighthouse Road, about 10 miles south from US 98 - 7 miles past the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. A very scenic spot, the grounds are open daily but going inside the lighthouse is limited to tours (small fee) available on certain days (check the calendar ) and climbing the tower is prohibited due to ongoing restoration. The original Fresnel lens and other exhibits are at the museum. Also visit the Lighthouse Levee Trail (bikes allowed) - 1/2 mile with views of the Gulf and marsh impoundments. (Updated: December 2019)
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1931 to provide habitat for migratory birds. In addition to the Lighthouse, the refuge includes a Visitor Center, parking and restrooms. Entrance fee applies. The levees and roads are open to bikes. Other activities include hiking, birdwatching, photography, horseback riding, fishing and hunting. The Florida National Scenic Trail passes through the Refuge. Located at Florida's Big Bend, it also encompasses a portion of the Florida Circumnavigational Paddling Trail.
San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, a National Historic Monument, is the location of an original 17th century Spanish colonial fort at the junction of the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers - some remains can be seen. The museum chronicles the history of the area and occupation by Spanish, English, American and Confederate forces at various times. The Park, includes parking, restrooms, Visitor Center, picnicking, hiking, fishing, and birding.
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