Birding enthusiasts, be sure to observe the many magnificent and unique species that live in Chiefland (See our list of State Bird Trails below). Perhaps the best way to truly fulfill your hobby is to plan a trip on foot through established hiking trails and wildlife refuges within the area.
Visit Manatee Springs State Park, located in Chiefland, to glimpse wading birds like herons, egrets, and ibis, sunbathing on the banks of the pristine Main Spring and the peaceful Suwannee River. If hiking is not your preferred transportation method, canoeing down the river will provide a quiet ride into nature. From this vantage point, closely observe an assortment of birds and other animals in their most comfortable environment. Lose yourself in Nature's splendor, in the colors and sounds of Chiefland's diverse bird population.
Specific guidelines should be followed to make the most out of your birding experience.
For more information:
Manatee Springs State Park
call (352) 493-6072
For more informatio :
The Great Florida Birding Trail:
Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge (North end)
Shired Island Beach access offers trails through coastal hammock past mudflats and open beach good for everything from wintering shorebirds to songbird migrants making landfall in spring. Dixie Mainline is a 9 mi.-driving/biking/walking road through pine flat woods, bottomland hardwoods and marsh. Gorgeous birding, but be aware that hunting use is intense on this area Oct./Nov., when biking/ hiking are not advised. Fishbone Creek offers a platform vantage of saltmarsh. Salt Creek has an ADA-accessible boardwalk to the marsh where bald eagles frequently nest. There is always something to see here year-round, but be prepared for biting insects in warm weather.
DIRECTIONS: Shired Island Beach (a): Follow CR 351 from Cross City to CR 357. Turn SW and follow it all the way to the Gulf. Dixie Mainline Termini (b) are on CR 357 (5 miles from the Gulf) and CR 349 (3 miles from the Gulf). Fishbone Creek (c): Entrance is on the N side of CR 357 1 mi. SW of the entrance for Dixie Mainline. Salt Creek (d): From the CR 349 terminus of Dixie Mainline, go north 0.5 mi. and turn left (W); park at end of road (do not block gate).
Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge (Headquarters)
Trail is a brief lowland walk through a cypress and maple swamp to a boardwalk at the water's edge. For driving access, visit the Loop Road through dark, cool lowlands good for songbirds. Tram roads off into the swamp offer the opportunity to get out and hike. Part of this area is open to hunting, so check seasons before you arrive. Shell Mound Trail winds around a Native American midden, and can be good for songbirds while affording excellent views of the salt marsh.
DIRECTIONS: Headquarters Trail (a): From Chiefland, take SR 19 S to CR 347. Drive W on CR 347 12 mi. Here, CR 347 meets CR 330 at a stop sign. Continue to the left on CR 347. Five miles ahead on the right, follow signs to the nature trail at the Refuge Headquarters. Loop Road (b, c): one mile further on the right (W) side of CR 347 is the entrance to the Refuge Loop Road. This driving trail returns to CR 347 approx. 4.0 mi. further south. Shell Mound (d): From Cedar Key, take CR 24 N to CR 347 and turn left (N). Follow CR 347 approx. 3 mi. to CR 326. Turn left (W) and follow the signs to the Shell Mound trail at the end.
Hart Springs Park
This small county park is mostly used for swimming in warm weather, but offers a nice boardwalk through bald cypress along the Suwannee River. Wood storks and pileated woodpeckers, prothonotary warblers and bald eagles are all possible. Trails through thick xeric hammock lead to some open areas for meadowlarks and bobwhites.
DIRECTIONS: From Fanning Springs, travel 2 mi. E on SR 26.
Fanning Springs State Park
DIRECTIONS: On the W side of US 19 in Fanning Springs, 0.5 mi. S of the Suwannee River bridge.
Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve
The east end of this site features upland sand hills and scrubs, home to the elusive Florida scrub-jay and short-tailed hawks. The W end slopes down through Black Point Swamp to tidal creeks and salt marsh. This is a beautiful, rustic preserve. Come with water; prepare to hike. Limited hunting on-site Sept. - Nov. Call for dates.
DIRECTIONS: From Cedar Key, follow CR 24 out of town, and veer left onto CR 347. Entrance is one mile ahead from this intersection, on the left (W) side of the road. Open dawn to dusk. (352) 543-5567; Cedar Key Scrub Wildlife Management Area
Andrews Wildlife Management Area
Open dawn to dusk. (352) 493-6020. www.floridaconservation.org
Manatee Springs State Park
A boardwalk meanders from the spring along the run to the Suwannee River, through a cypress stand good for migrants. Watch the far shore for cryptic limpkins. At the river, there is a large vulture roost, as well as an opportunity to view waders and ducks on the river. Spring is popular with swimmers. River offers more birding opportunities than upland nature trails.
Open 8:00 a.m. to dusk, 365 days/year. (352) 493-6072;
Number 4 Bridge and Fishing Pier
In late fall and winter, flats in the channels between the islands of Cedar Key host a tremendous diversity of shorebirds, and can be viewed from vantages like this one. Kayak concessions offer a unique access to the surrounding waters, where peregrines stoop on clusters of sandpipers and kettles of white pelicans soar on thermals. Roseate Spoonbills are summer treats.
Cedar Key City Park, Marina & Fishing Pier
DIRECTIONS: Drive SR 24 into Cedar Key and turn left at the first stop sign onto 2nd St. Go 3 blocks to A St. Park is on the corner of 2nd and A; A St. becomes Dock St. at Waterfront. Open dawn to dusk.
Goethe State Forest
DIRECTIONS: From Inglis, drive 10 mi. N on US 19 to its intersection with CR 121 and CR 336. Gas Line Rd. (a): Bear right (N) onto CR 121 and make another quick right (SE) onto CR 336. After approx. 0.9 mi. turn left (N) onto North Prong Rd. Follow this road to its end at the intersection with Gas Line Rd. and turn left. Cow Creek Rd. (b): Bear right (N) onto CR 121, cross CR 336 and continue approx. 1.2 mi. N. Turn left onto Cow Creek Rd. HQ is located on the E side of the forest at 9110 SE CR 337.
Goethe State Forest