A01. Fort Clinch State Park
SiteID: E1 (E1 old)
Nearest City: Fernandina Beach
Phone Number: 904-277-7274
Website: A01. Fort Clinch State Park
Features/Amenities: Restrooms, Entrance fee required, Good for beginners, Birding by foot/hiking, Birding by bicycle, Best time of day: Morning, Recommended length of visit: a few hours, Camping br>
Habitats: Freshwater Marsh/Wetlands, Field/Pasture, Hardwoods/Mixed Forest, Salt Marsh, Beach/Dune, Coastal Strand
At the northernmost point on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, separated from Georgia by the St. Marys River, lies Fort Clinch State Park, the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail’s northernmost gateway. This “must-see” park allows visitors to sample a wide spectrum of Florida’s bird species and habitats – from migratory songbirds in maritime forests, to salt marshes teeming with rails and wading birds, to beach and ocean replete with shorebirds and seabirds galore. As you follow the canopy road into the park, stop periodically and check the hammock and neighboring marsh for warblers, waders, wrens and sparrows. Shaded bicycle and foot paths parallel both sides of the entrance road for several miles – be sure to check the woods here in spring and fall. Stop by the visitor center at the Civil War-era fort in the northwest corner of the park to borrow loaner optics, or visit the Birding and Wildlife Trail’s pavilion at the fishing pier/jetty parking lot on the east side to pick up information about the GFBWT. The covered pavilion (pictured above) has a number of educational displays about coastal birds, and the “bird windows” permit close observation of Painted Buntings at the feeders and mister in spring/summer. Next, walk the spectacular, 0.5-mile pier alongside the rock jetty to see terns, gulls, pelicans and shorebirds. The jetty is famous as a Purple Sandpiper hangout in winter. From the beach or pier, seabirds, Common Eider and all three scoter species can sometimes be observed offshore in winter (be sure to bring a spotting scope). Don’t miss the opportunity to bird from atop the fort’s brick walls for an elevated, panoramic view of Cumberland Sound. Other species of interest on the park’s checklist are Gull-billed Tern, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Magnificent Frigatebird, Piping Plover, Salt Marsh Skipper and Juniper Hairstreak. Guided nature walks depart every Saturday morning; call for details or to schedule group tours for 15 or more visitors.
Directions: From I-95, take exit 373 and go 14.4 mi. east, then north on SR 200/SR A1A (becomes 8th St. in Fernandina Beach). Turn right (E) on SR A1A/Atlantic Ave. and go 1.5 mi. to the park entrance on the left (north) side of the road. In Fernandina Beach, take SR A1A/CR 105A/S. Fletcher Ave. north to Atlantic Ave. Turn left (west); the park is on the right (north) side, 0.1 mi. ahead.
Open all year, 8 AM to sundown.