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Big Bend Scenic Byway

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Scenic Drive: Panacea and Upland Forests

Driving Directions: From the Aquarium, return to the Byway and US 98 and continue through Panacea eastward into the Panacea Unit of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Distance and driving time between this and previous stop: 4 miles / 5 minutes.

Panacea and Upland Forests

Description: Founded in 1895, Panacea was named for the healing properties of its many mineral springs. Visitors arrived from far away by buggy and plank road trams drawn by mules to bathe in the springs’ curative waters. The town is also steeped in maritime history, from the early days of catching huge runs of Mullet by hand-drawn seine nets to later practices of oystering, shrimping, and crabbing. Panacea celebrates its relationship to nature with a Blue Crab Festival in May and the Mighty Mullet Maritime Festival in November.

Bordered by Dickerson Bay, the route passes the Big Bend Maritime Center, Otter Lake Recreation Area, the Wakulla County Visitor Center, and Mineral Springs Park before entering the Panacea Unit of the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. This Unit is largely dominated by upland pine and oak forests with several fresh water lakes interspersed. About 6.5 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail traverses this unit of the Refuge. Spring and fall offer beautiful roadside displays of wildflowers in bloom.

Other Nearby Destinations: Skipper Bay Road; Harvey’s Roadside Truck Display; Spring Creek; Medart Recreation Park; Wildwood Gulf and Country Club; Wakulla River; Wakulla Beach; Florida National Scenic Trail, Cathedral of the Palms, Sheppard’s Spring.

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