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Public Use at GTM Research Reserve Quick Topics

GTM Research Reserve manages 2600 acres of uplands on Guana Peninsula. This property houses its administration center and the Environmental Education Center which is open seven days a week.

Recreational activities at GTM Research Reserve are primarily based around the rich variety of natural resources found here and include hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking or canoeing, bird watching and much more. Hiking and biking are popular along the more than nine miles of nature trails and old service roads that wind through the hammock, scrub and flatwoods in the interior portion of GTM Research Reserve. Horseback riding is allowed on the trails weekdays excluding holidays. Access to the trails is at the west end of the Guana River Dam. Ticks and biting insects are common throughout the year and are especially heavy from late April through early September.

There are two small boat ramps at Guana Dam. One ramp provides access to Guana Lake (aka Lake Ponte Vedra). Guana Lake has a 10 hp maximum engine limit. The other boat ramp provides access to Guana River. Due to mudflats, Guana River may not be navigated at low tide and you may not be able to get to and from the ramp until the tide comes in.

There are three beach parking lots on the west side of A1A. Park here and walk across A1A to the beach dune walkovers that will lead you to a beautiful coquina sand beach. There are no lifeguards at the beach. The south beach parking lot is wheelchair accessible.

As a result of a pilot project for expanded equestrian opportunities, horseback riding on the beach is allowed with the following conditions: horses are allowed only below mean high tide, within 3 hours of daily low tide. These restrictions are necessary for resource protection.

Recreational Use at Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve


The Education Environmental Center is located off A1A, 7 miles north of Vilano Beach and 10 miles south of Micklers Road in Ponte Vedra. The beach access points are a few miles north of the Environmental Education Center on the west side of A1A.

Hours of Operation

The beach access parking areas are open 8am until sunset. The GTM Guana River Trails are open for hiking and biking activities 8am until sunset. The GTM Guana River Dam Use Area is open for fishing 4 am 11 pm. Vehicles remaining in the parking area after 11 pm may be subject to a $250 fine and possible towing.

Entrance Fees

$3 per vehicle
$1 per pedestrian or cyclist
GTM Research Reserve annual passes are available for $50, plus tax

Boardwalk over dunes

Boardwalks provide beach access without damaging vegetation.

Runners on trail

Trails are used by hikers, bicyclists, equestrians and even running events.

Map of Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve

Print a Trail Map for Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve (PDF - 700 KB)

GTM Research Reserve staff recently completed a Visitor Use Survey to document recreational public use, including the Guana Dam, the trail system, and the Atlantic beaches. The survey provided an opportunity for visitors to provide recommendations for improvements to the visitor experience. Some of these recommendations were quickly implemented, such as additional benches and picnic tables at the dam and on the trail system, and additional interpretive kiosks on the trail system. Additional signage for visitors at the four beach dune crossovers, including interpretive signage regarding the northern right whale, nesting shorebirds, archeological and cultural history and general public information is also needed.

The visitor survey also suggests that fishing is the single most frequent public use of the surveyed areas. The Guana Dam is the most popular location for fishing, crabbing and shrimping, and is open to the public from 4 am to 11 pm daily. Fishing pressure at the dam can be intense during peak conditions, and may be applying excessive pressure on the natural resources there. As Guana Lake is managed by FWC, discussions with the staff of the Guana River Wildlife Management Area might provide some guidance on gamefish stocks there. Access to the dam and lake shore is managed by GTM Research Reserve, so any changes in management of this public opportunity would need to be resolved cooperatively between the two agencies. Limited recreational oyster and hard clam harvesting throughout the estuary occurs as well.

There are currently six aquaculture leases within the GTM Research Reserve totaling 42 acres. Other consumptive commercial resource use in the estuarine system include fishing for penaeid shrimp, blue crabs, clams, scallops, oysters and various finfish species. Of these, blue crabs and shrimp are the most predominant. Sustainability of the habitats that support these resources is a management priority for GTM Research Reserve.









Last updated: January 31, 2011

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