This park preserves open grassy forests of longleaf pine that were once commonplace throughout Florida.
The pine flatwoods form a backdrop for other biological communities, including cypress domes, scrubby Flatwoods, sand hills and a beautiful strand swamp. These habitats are home to many native plants and animals, including over 50 protected species. Photographers, bird-watchers, and nature enthusiasts can explore miles of trails on foot, bicycle or horseback.
Canoeing, boating and fishing on the St. Sebastian River are popular activities. Launching facilities are available outside the preserve at Dale Wimbrow Park and several private ramps along the St. Sebastian River and at a canoe launch north of County Road 512.
Only mountain bikes or fat-tire bikes are recommended due to wilderness trail conditions including soft sand, logs, palmetto stems and natural vegetation. Please remain on designated trails, No off-trail biking is permitted due to the rare and endangered species of plants and animals being protected on the Preserve. Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.
The Preserve is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail and has been identified as one of the top birding locations in the United States. Many different species of birds use the preserve during migration, such as the swallow-tailed kite, various songbirds, hawks, hummingbirds and robins. Please look at our bird checklist to see which birds are here during each season. Our most popular birds are red-cockaded woodpeckers, Florida scrub jays and Bachman's sparrows. More common sightings include sandhill cranes, wood storks, southern bald eagles and American kestrels. You can ask for the bird checklist at the Ranger Station.
Although there is currently no boat ramp or launch, the park is accessible from other boat ramps on Roseland Road such as Dale Windrow County Park. Both the North and South prongs of the river enter the park like a winding scene from a movie full of wildlife, large bluffs along the banks and overhanging trees.
Three of the primitive campsites are available for horse camping for groups up to 20 people. Storytelling Camp/Horsemen's Headquarters in Brevard County has five paddocks, non-potable water for horses, a pitcher pump, picnic pavilion, one portable toilet, a campfire ring and benches. Ranch Camp in Indian River County has four paddocks, non-potable water for horses, a campfire ring and benches. Eagle Camp in Indian River County has one large paddock, a lean-to, a campfire ring and benches. Eagle Camp is a ride-in only site requiring a five-mile ride each way from the parking area. Proof of negative Coggins test must be carried at all times.
Hammock camping is allowed in this camping area.
Reservations are required, payable by cash or check. You will need to provide vehicle tag numbers for each vehicle staying in the park overnight. The County Road 512 entrance gate and the County Road 507 entrance gate is locked at sunset. Gates open by 8 a.m. A camper's combination is available. To make reservations or get directions, call the park Monday through Thursday, 321-953-5005 or call 321-953-5004 Friday through Sunday. Pets are permitted in accordance with our Pet Policy.
Primitive tent camping is available at six campsites. All sites are hike-in only. Two are located on the north side of the park in Brevard County off County Road 507. Four are located on the south side of the park in Indian River County off County Road 512. Firewood collection is prohibited. You will need to pack in all food, water and firewood and pack out all trash. Pets are permitted in accordance with our Pet Policy.
Hammock camping is allowed in this camping area.
Reservations are required, payable by cash or check. You will need to provide vehicle tag numbers for each vehicle staying in the park overnight. The County Road 512 entrance gate and the County Road 507 entrance gate is locked at sunset. Gates open by 8 a.m. A camper’s combination is available. To make reservations or get directions, call the Park Monday through Thursday, 321-953-5005 or call 321-953-5004 Friday through Sunday.
Camping, Primitive Group
Five of six primitive tent camp sites are available for groups up to 20 people. Larger groups can sometimes be accommodated. Fees are $5 per person, per night, payable by cash or check. Reservations are required. Vehicle tag numbers must be provided for each vehicle staying in the park overnight.
Hammock camping is allowed in this camping area.
The County Road 512 entrance gate and the County Road 507 entrance gate is locked at sunset. Gates open by 8 a.m. A camper's combination is available. Pets are permitted in accordance with our Pet Policy. To make reservations or get directions, call us Monday through Thursday at 321-953-5005 or 321-953-5004 Friday through Sunday.
Fishing is permitted in the ponds on the preserve, the shoreline of the C-54 canal and in the St. Sebastian River. The water in the St. Sebastian River is brackish which sustains both freshwater and saltwater species. Some examples of species found in the river are tarpon, snook, bass and mullet. Please make sure to abide by all State of Florida rules and regulations regarding fishing and licenses. Licenses can be obtained at most bait and tackle shops or at any county tax collector's office.
Geocaching is an outdoor game using hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) devices. It's effectively an inexpensive, interactive, high-tech treasure hunt that's a great way to learn geography. Participants use location coordinates to find caches. Some caches are easy to find; others are more difficult. The biggest reward is the thrill of the search and the discovery of a place where you have never been. Geocaching should have minimal impact to the environment and conscientious land use ethics should be followed.
Operation Recreation GeoTour
The preserve has 60 miles of trails that are about equally split between Brevard and Indian River Counties. Most of our trails are very long and are more suited for horseback riding, mountain biking and extended hikes. All visitors should bring water and sun protection. Those wanting a chance to see Florida scrub jays should park on the southwest side of the preserve (one mile west of I-95 off CR512). Endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers can be seen on the northeast side of the preserve. For this park at the Stumper Flats or Horseman's Headquarters parking areas.
One remote picnic area is available in Brevard County at Horseman's Headquarters. No advance reservations are required. One unprotected picnic table is available at the manatee viewing area in Brevard County. Consumption of alcohol beverages is prohibited.
Guided hikes, wagon rides and scrub jay encounters run from October through May. Please call the Environmental Learning Center 772-589-5050 for tour dates, times and fees. Swamp tromps and group field trips are provided by request only. Please contact the Preserve office 321-953-5004 for more information.
Wildlife Viewing: West Indian Manatees gather in the C54 canal from November through March. The canal where they can be observed is located at the eastern end of Buffer Preserve Drive in Brevard County. Other wildlife viewing includes birds, deer, coyote, bobcat, wild turkey, quail, eastern indigo snakes and gopher tortoises. Alligators can be seen in the St. Sebastian River and the C54 canal. If you see alligators while on the river, please give them a wide berth and do not attempt to feed or molest them. Although rare, alligators have been known to make unprovoked attacks on pets and humans, so please keep your distance.
Canoe Kayak Launch
No launching of canoes or kayaks is permitted on the Preserve. However, launching is available nearby at Donald MacDonald Park or Dale Wimbrow Park (both off Roseland Road) or at the Indian River County canoe launch north of the intersection of CR512 and CR510. The county's launch site requires a two-hour paddle to reach the Preserve's canoe landing. You might plan to stop along the river and have a picnic or take a hike on the preserve before paddling on to your disembarkation point.
St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park offers accessible amenities for enjoyment by all. These amenities currently include:
Picnic Pavilion at the south entrance off County Road 512
accessible grill at the Picnic Pavilion
Visitor Center at the entrance on Babcock Road
Manatee observation deck along the C54 canal
An interpretive kiosk is located on the south side of the park located off County Road 51; this exhibit features historical photographs and information, and artist renderings of this amazingly unique and diverse place.
Two picnic pavilions are located on the southeast side of the preserve in Indian River County. Pavilions are used on a first-come, first-served basis; but can be rented for special occasions. For more information please contact the Park Office Mon-Thur for details at 321-953-5005.
We have a Clivus Multrum (large Port-o-let) located on the north side of the park, which is ADA accessible. There are also restrooms are available at the Visitor Center located at the north side entrance on C.R 507.
The visitor center is open Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the northwest side of the preserve in Brevard County. Trail maps for each section of the preserve can be obtained here. Stop by to see the cultural history that shaped this preserve, including ancient artifacts and tools, or just to talk with one of the knowledgeable and friendly staff or volunteers before you embark on your adventure.
Horse Equestrian Trail
The preserve maintains 60 miles of trails, with most being available for horseback riding. Trails marked with a blue hikers-only sign should not be used for riding. For additional information about facilities supporting horseback riding, please read about horse camping.