Ralph E. Simmons Memorial State Forest

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Along the Florida-Georgia border, the scenic St. Marys River twists and turns around the northern boundary of this secluded state forest. Miles of rustic hiking, biking and equestrian trails provide great birding and wildlife viewing opportunities through the site’s sandhills, slope forest. cypress swamp, pine flatwoods, and wetlands. Three trail systems lead through the forest. Throughout the forest, resident songbirds like Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pine Warbler and Eastern Towhee are common; Northern Bobwhite, Bachman’s Sparrow, Wild Turkey, White-tailed Deer and Gopher Tortoise can also be found year-round. Look for American Robin, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Blue-headed Vireo in winter and early spring. Butterfly viewers will want to search here for Frosted Elfin and Sleepy Duskywing from late February to early April. Birding the river by canoe or kayak is possible (local concessionaires offer rentals). From the river (or riverbank on the trails) in springtime, you may see Anhinga, Wood Duck, Spotted Sandpiper, Mississippi Kite and Prothonotary Warbler. Note: the river is a popular boating and water-skiing spot in warm months. A boat launch is located at the end of Scott’s Landing Rd. near US 1. Seasonal hunting occurs at this site, click here for dates, regulations and more information.

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