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Natural Places

Lower Suwanee

National Wildlife Refuge

Florida Wildlife



The Suwanee River has its source in the dank waters of the Okeefenokee Swamp, located mostly in Georgia, but also in North Florida. The river flows out of Georgia after flowing through Big Water and Minnie Lakes (in the middle of the swamp) and then takes a winding route through the central-north part of Florida, before widening about 35 miles from its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. The estuary is the location of the Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge.

We suggest leaving the Gulf Coast for a short detour into the Florida interior, following the path of the river to several fine state parks and recreation areas, all located within a few miles of the town of Live Oak, and to Manatee Springs State Park which is closer to the coast near the town of Chiefland.

You won't be able to follow the river precisely, as there is no road which twists and bends as does the river, but you can cut cross-country between the parks to get a feel for the life of the river as it flows slowly toward the gulf.

Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge

Starting on the coast, this refuge is about ten miles northwest of Cedar Key and is found by taking County Road 347, about 6.5 miles northeast of the junction with CR 326. The refuge is located along the southeast bank of the river. There is a hunting season in the region, and you should check with the ranger about when and where hunting season and areas where hunting is permitted.

A 3.5-mile trail network leads into the forest, using old forest roads. Here, you have a good chance of seeing armadillos, deer, raccoons, and wild hogs, and, less frequently, bobcats. This area is also known for its abundant display of spring wildflowers, including glades lobelia (some portions of the refuge are very damp), duck potato, purple flag, and long-leaf violets.

Another old forest road, suitable for hiking, is found off County Road 347, four miles north of the first trailhead. This is another damp forest area, with 2.5 miles of piney trail, leading to a cable gate where you turn left for more wildflowers.

Fraser Bridges



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