6.5 miles (Off Road Trails Not Counted)
(Normal Asphalt Road - No Bike Lane or Paved Shoulder)
Rating: 10 (out of 10)
Since this is not a bike trail, I did not get a count
on intersections or people using the NWR road.
Pros: The main paved road of St. Marks NWR is very very flat with the elevation varying plus or minus about 4 feet over the 6.5 miles of roadway hence no profile of the track is included. St. Marks NWR at first seems to be limited to a short 6.5 mile ride down Lighthouse Road but looks can be deceiving. The National Wildlife Refuge is several counties wide encompassing over 100 square miles - it is huge. The majority of unpaved trails are best suited for mountain bikes and are off limits to motor vehicles. The maze of unpaved trails branching out into the wilds of the refuge is extensive. You can either explore a little or there are enough trails to keep someone busy for several days. The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the country which attracts some of the best photographers in the nation. If you like getting out in nature or are a bird watching enthusiast, this refuge is top notch offering a wide variety of habitats to explore.
Cons: There is a $5 Fee to Access the Park but no one collects the honor system fee to be placed in an envelope and stuffed in a slot. The NWR has no bike lane or paved shoulder on the road but all the drivers except for the impatient boaters speeding to get to the boat ramp were moving at about 20 mph or less and were very courteous to this bicyclist. For the person wishing to get out and push the limit on their bicycle for exercise, the St. Marks NWR probably isn't for you as this wildlife refuge is best suited for those wanting to stop often and observe the wildlife and birds. There is a maze of unpaved trails so extensive that someone could easily get lost and there are no facilities that I saw so far out on the trails. There are times of the year when insects are dense - like mosquitos, deer flies, yellow flies and black flies. The biting insects all seem to be attracted to 100 percent DEET insect repellent and can quickly turn a beautiful trip into nature into a miserable swatting and cussing experience. Once beyond the treeline, winds could be a factor in the ride if they are strong.
Viewpoint: In a nutshell, yes I most certainly will plan more excursions to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. I have only just discovered the extent of the off road trails open to mountain bikers and hope to explore them all while carrying a camera.
The downloadable GPS track of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Lighthouse Road can be found here:
Click on any thumbnail below to bring up a larger view photo gallery with commentary.