St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park's Red Cockaded Woodpecker Link Trail is a great trail to utilize for an out and back or to create shorter loops with the Yellow Trail
. The trail is marked frequently on trees with a black horizontal stripe going across a large yellow blaze. The trail starts from the second-to-last parking lot on Buffer Preserve Road (the road north of the C-54 (Fellsmere) Canal).
From the parking area, take the Yellow Trail
for its first 0.5 miles to a signed junction. The Yellow Trail
goes left and right, and the Red Cockaded Woodpecker Link Trail continues straight. Follow the obvious yellow-and-black blazes forward. There are multiple points that go through at least puddles of water, even in the dry season. Expect to get your feet wet and muddy or else the trail will be severely damaged by people trying to circumvent the trail. Go right through the wet sections staying on the trail. As you are nearing the end of the trail, you'll pass by a horse watering station on your left (this water is not drinkable for humans, but could be a good way to cool off a bit in the heat). The trail ends when it comes to another junction with the Yellow Trail
The northeast section of the park is where you are most likely to see the endangered red cockaded woodpecker among the longleaf pines. For more information and photos of these endangered birds, check out photographer Mac Stone's website
. The St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park has more than 60 miles of trail—you can't go wrong. Just bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
About 1000 feet past the parking area for the Yellow Trail
and Red Cockaded Woodpecker Link Trail is a viewing area to see West Indian manatees! This is a must do if hiking here!