Emeralda Marsh Public Small Game Hunting Area

Managed in cooperation with
St. Johns River Water Management District


photo of bird watchers at Emerald Marsh
Tom Shupe

Emeralda Marsh PSGHA consists of more than 7,000 acres in north central Lake County, along the east side of Lake Griffin. The St. Johns River Water Management District is in the process of restoring the wetlands on this area, which provide waterfowl feeding and nesting sites as well as a wintering ground for sandhill cranes. Bald eagles soar overhead year-round but are most abundant in winter and spring. The wetlands also attract white pelican, purple gallinule, limpkin, glossy and white ibis, wood stork, alligator, and otter. The area is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. Each spring large flocks of bobolinks may be seen near the entrances along Emeralda Island Road. Visitors may hike along levees and other marked trails to view wildlife in the hammocks, pastures, and extensive sawgrass and wet prairie marshes. Dawn and dusk are the best times to catch a glimpse of a bobcat or white-tailed deer. Additional recreational activities include waterfowl hunting, fishing, bicycling, paddling, horseback riding, and boating.  Children under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet when horseback riding on public lands.  For more detailed information go to Nicole's Law PDF.  All horseback riders must have proof of current negative Coggins Test results for their horses when on state lands. There is one boat ramp on the area. The Water Management District has created a self-guided driving tour along the levees that is normally open on weekends from February through May (exact dates available by calling 386-329-4404). For additional information, a recreation guide is available from the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Rules Regarding Dogs

  • For purposes other than hunting, dogs are allowed but must be kept under physical restraint at all times.
  • Waterfowl retrievers, bird dogs and dogs with a shoulder height of 17 inches or less may be used for hunting during open seasons.

FWC Facts:
Agility, speed, power. These are fitting words describing the flight of the peregrine falcon, the world's fastest bird.

Learn More at AskFWC