Ralph E. Simmons Wildlife Management Area

Managed in cooperation with
Florida Forest Service
St. Johns River Water Management District

 

photo pine forest
St. Johns River
Water Management District

Ralph E. Simmons Memorial WMA consists of more than 3,000 acres along nearly 7 miles of the St. Marys River in northern Nassau County. On the area are excellent examples of a number of natural communities, including longleaf pine/wiregrass, seepage slopes, herb bogs and ravine forests. These communities contain a variety of rare plants, including orchids and pitcher plants, and are home to white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobcat, gopher tortoise, and otter. The Ralph Simmons State Forest is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

The river provides excellent opportunities for boating, fishing, and canoeing as well as bird watching. Hiking, horseback riding and off-road bicycling are available on established trails and roads.  Children under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet when horseback riding on public lands.  For more detailed information go to Nicole's Law PDF.  All horseback riders must have proof of current negative Coggins Test results for their horses when on state lands.

The area has produced some high quality deer at times and squirrel hunting along the river bottom swamps can be good in the fall. During hunting periods, public access is restricted to those individuals with valid quota hunt permits, except during the mobility-impaired general gun hunt when two non-disabled helpers may accompany a mobility-impaired quota permit holder. During periods open to hunting, hunters in possession of a quota permit may camp in designated campgrounds. During periods closed to hunting, camping in the designated group campground is allowed by permit from the Florida Forest Service, (904) 845-3597.

Camping for non-hunters at primitive campsites along the St. Marys River is allowed throughout the year on a first-come, first-serve basis.  A boat ramp is located on Scotts Landing Road.

Information kiosks are located on Lake Hampton Road and Penny Haddock Road.  For additional information, a recreation guide is available from the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Rules Regarding Dogs

  • For purposes other than hunting, dogs are allowed, but must be kept under physical restraint at all times. Dogs are prohibited in areas posted as "Closed to Public Access" by FWC administrative action. No person shall allow any dog to pursue or molest any wildlife during any period in which the taking of wildlife by the use of dogs is prohibited.
  • Hunting dogs may be taken onto the WMA beginning 8 a.m. the day before each hunt and shall be removed by 6 p.m. one day after the end of the season. Hunting with dogs is prohibited, except that bird dogs may be used during the small game season. Dogs are prohibited in areas posted as "Closed to Public Access" by FWC administrative action. No person shall allow any dog to pursue or molest any wildlife during any period in which the taking of wildlife by the use of dogs is prohibited. Dogs on leashes may be used for trailing wounded game.



FWC Facts:
Burrowing owls live as single breeding pairs or in loose colonies consisting of two or more families. Unlike most owls, burrowing owls are active during both day and night.

Learn More at AskFWC