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Okefenokee Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images

Area Management

The Okefenokee Wilderness is part of the 111 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Okefenokee Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

Access to this Wilderness is restricted to watercraft trails only. Motorboats with 10hp or less engines are allowed limited access into the wilderness area; however, these are only permitted on day-use trails. Further exploration of the swamp beyond the day-use areas is via canoe and/or kayak, and must be permitted in advance. Entrance fees are required at all access points into the refuge.

Overnight camping is allowed in designated campsites only, and advance permits are required. Most of the sites in the swamp consist of raised wooden platforms, with composting toilets. Leave No Trace principles are encouraged for all visitors.

Permits are available for two to five day trips through the Wilderness Area. Reservations can be made two months in advance by calling 912-496-3331 between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. weekdays (excluding Federal holidays). To ensure solitude and protection of the resources, only one party per night is allowed at each campsite.

Trails need constant maintenance to keep trails open. Once a year, usually during the winter and early spring months, a trailcutter travels the trails, cutting away submerged vegetation. Trail crews may be encountered cutting the vegetation from the sides of the trails and removing fallen trees and logs. The fires of 2007 killed trees along the waterways which continue to cause challenges for canoeists as they fall across trails. Besides trail and shelter maintenance, biologists may be encountered on the trails as they conduct wildlife and plant surveys and perform maintenance on water monitoring stations.

Fluctuating water levels and fire are the driving forces within the swamp. Okefenokee Swamp being the headwaters of the St Marys and Suwannee Rivers depends on rainfall in the immediate area. There is no man manipulated control structures. Being in a high lightning prone area, fire is common. Recognizing the benefits fire provides to the swamp, wildfires are used to the benefit of the resources while protecting neighboring lands. Prescribed fires are used on the upland pine forests on islands within the swamp to protect red-cockaded woodpecker habitat.

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