Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Wakulla State Forest

Location | History | Natural Features |  Recreation | Management | Contacts

Wakulla State Forest is composed of one main tract in Wakulla County and one smaller tract in Leon County. Since 1999, Wakulla State Forest has been managed by the Florida Forest Service using the multiple-use concept, which balances environmental, recreational and resource use needs. Emphasis is given to preservation of water quality (by protecting the conduits that lie below the state forest and supply Wakulla Springs), ecosystem restoration and outdoor recreation.

Location

The main body of Wakulla State Forest is located in the northeastern portion of Wakulla County, approximately five miles northeast of Crawfordville and six miles south of Tallahassee city limits. The Woodville Tract is located in southern Leon County.

History

The initial purchase of 1,431 acres for the Wakulla State Forest was completed in 1999. Since then, four additional parcels totaling 4,286 acres have been purchased. The Woodville State Forest, originally acquired by the 1946 Tax Deed, was renamed in 2002 as the Woodville Tract and included as part of the Wakulla State Forest. The Eight Mile Tract, formally known as the Chason Tract, was acquired in 2013. The tract is named after Eight Mile Pond, which is north of the property. This tract consists of 679 acres which is now part of the Wakulla State Forest.

State funds used to acquire Wakulla State Forest include Conservation and Recreation Lands/Preservation 2000 Funds and Florida Forever Funds. In the past, the primary objective for the majority of the acreage was to grow timber. The primary purpose of acquisition by the state of Florida was to preserve the quality of Wakulla Springs by protecting the land above the ground conduits that supply the springs. Since assuming management of Wakulla State Forest, the Florida Forest Service has emphasized the protection of Wakulla Springs water quality, ecosystem restoration and outdoor recreation.

Natural Features

The natural resources found on Wakulla State Forest are very diverse due to the unique and various natural community types. At one time Wakulla State Forest supported at least eight major community types, including upland hardwood forest, upland mixed forest, sandhill, hydric hammock, floodplain swamp, basin swamp, dome swamp and depression marsh. Wakulla is believed to be named after the Timucuan Indian word for “spring of water” or “mysterious water." 

Currently, the forest contains approximately 2,500 acres of pine plantation. Past management practices have disrupted the function of the natural ecosystems. The restoration of these ecosystems is a primary objective of the Florida Forest Service.

Many species of wildlife make their home on the forest. There have been no confirmed sightings on Wakulla State Forest of species that are currently listed as threatened or endangered; however, there have been confirmed sighting of species of special concern. The habitat of the gopher tortoise and Sherman’s fox squirrel, species of special concern, will be enhanced by sandhill restoration and regular prescribed burning. These practices may also benefit many other sandhill species, which, although not observed on Wakulla State Forest, may migrate in and increase as their habitat is restored.

McBride Slough is the major watershed drain through the forest. It combines with two small springs, then flows under State Road 267 and joins the Wakulla River in just over a mile. Wakulla State Forest is within the Wakulla Springs aquifer. A portion of the forest is part of the watershed groundwater recharge area for Wakulla Springs, one of the largest single-vent freshwater springs in the world. Springs and sinkholes can be found throughout the forest. A spring is a point where underground water emerges onto the earth’s surface. A sinkhole is a landform created by subsidence of soils, sediment or rock as underlying strata is dissolved by groundwater.

Recreation

A wide variety of recreational opportunities await visitors to Wakulla State Forest. Hiking, horseback riding, biking, picnicking, birding and nature study can be enjoyed using existing service roads, old road beds and established trails. This state forest is part of the  Big Bend Scenic Byway.

Explore a range of different ecosystems and enjoy the stunning views of Wakulla State Forest on the Wakulla State Forest Trail System. This recreation area features one designated Trailwalker and one Trailtrotter trail.

  • The Nemours Hiking Trail loop is a 1.75-mile trail that runs through a mixed pine/hardwood forest, pine plantation, early succession wildlife clearing, and a hardwood/cypress slough. Get Directions
  • The Double Springs Multi-use Trail loop is 4.5 miles in length. Riders and hikers should expect an amazing trail that will include low-water crossings, inclines and winding trails. Get Directions

For those hikers and riders who prefer exploring off the marked trails, 19 miles of service roads transect the Wakulla Tract. There is also a series of service roads on the Woodville Tract.

Picnicking is available at the parking area pavilion located off of State Road 267 and at the parking area on the Woodville Tract off of Highway 363.

Wakulla State Forest is open to regulated hunting under the direction of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. We encourage non-hunting recreationists to check the Wildlife Management Area regulations and season dates before visiting Wakulla State Forest. Hunting on Wakulla State Forest is limited to a primitive hunt and only archery/muzzle loading is allowed during deer season. Modern shotgun use is allowed during small-game and spring turkey season.

In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida's forest resources, the Florida Forest Service has developed rules that apply to all state forest visitors. Find out more about state forest fees and rules.

Timber Management

Timber management practices on Wakulla State Forest are important to the restoration and maintenance of forest ecosystems and provide a variety of socioeconomic benefits to Floridians. Harvesting activities follow the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services guide to Silviculture Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Often tree planting occurs after a site has been harvested. Reforestation efforts provide a continuous supply of wood produce, aid in converting pine plantations into their natural community types, and promote wildlife habitat.

Wildlife and Game Management

Wildlife habitat management is of crucial importance on Wakulla State Forest and is an important consideration whenever other management decisions are made. Prescribed burning is an important wildlife management tool and is used on portions of the forest between a three- to five-year rotation. Prescribed burning management mimics natural fires, keeping the ecosystem healthy and benefiting wildlife by encouraging the growth of plants that produce food for wildlife.

Wakulla State Forest is currently a Wildlife Management Area and is open to regulated hunting under the direction of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Hunting on Wakulla State Forest is limited to a primitive hunt and only archery and muzzleloading gun hunting is allowed during regular deer season. Modern shotgun use is allowed during spring turkey season. Only the Wakulla Tract is open to hunting. The Woodville Tract is closed to hunting. We encourage non-hunting recreationists to check the Wildlife Management Area regulations and season dates before visiting Wakulla State Forest.