Wilderness Preserve

Wilderness Preserve

Situated at the northernmost part of the St. Joseph Peninsula, the 1,700-acre Wilderness Preserve offers opportunities for solitude.  The preserve was established to preserve the unique and sensitive natural features of this area and provide an area for a true wilderness experience.  Spend the night under the stars in one of the fourteen backcountry campsites or venture out for the day on the six-mile hiking trail.  

A Wilderness Permit is required for access and can be obtained at the ranger station.  Pets are not permitted in the Wilderness Preserve. The wilderness area is seven miles to the tip of the peninsula. Once you leave the trailhead, there is no water or facilities available.  A cold-water shower and water-fill station are provided at the entrance to the Wilderness Preserve.  Carry in and carry out all items, including trash.   

sandy beach

Hiking 

Take the center trail through the Wilderness Preserve to journey along the six-mile of trail flanked with gnarled sand pines, rosemary, and saw palmettos. Catch a glimpse of a whitetail deer, a bald eagle soaring overhead, or tracks in the sand that tell the story of the wildlife hiding nearby.    

The trek through rolling terrain and powdery sugar sands can make for a challenging hike.  Bring plenty of drinking water with you.  Once you leave the trailhead, there is no water or facilities available.  A cold-water shower and water-fill station are provided at the entrance to the Wilderness Preserve. A Wilderness Permit is required for access and can be obtained at the Ranger Station.  

Hikers must be out of the wilderness area one hour before sunset unless registered to camp.  

Sandy path through the wild
sand on the beach
sand on the water

 

Primitive Camping  

Fourteen back country campsites are available in the Wilderness Preserve area of the park. These sites are tucked away in some of the more pristine and beautiful areas of the park. Three sites are located within the first mile from the entrance. Site #14 is six miles from the entrance.

The sites do not have any water or electricity, so please bring plenty of drinking water with you. A water-fill station is provided at the entrance to the Wilderness Preserve.

Each site is equipped with a fire ring. The sites accommodate up to four people. The sites are pack-in, pack-out, including any trash that is generated. Pets are not permitted in the Wilderness Preserve. Service animals are welcome if required; please let us know that you have a service animal at the time of arrival.  

These primitive camping sites are not accessible by vehicle. However, sites #3, #4, #5, #11, #12 and #14 can be reached by kayak. A kayak launch is located at the gate to the Wilderness Preserve.

We follow Leave No Trace principles.

Reservations are made on first come first served basis and payment is collected at the time of arrival.

The fee is $5 per night, per person.

Campers must arrive at the park two hours before sunset to allow enough time to register and safely get to the site before dark.

 

View the Backcountry Campsite Guide for more detailed site information.