The Native Americans who once lived here harvested the rich food supply and left behind mounds, middens, and artifacts dating back 10,000 years. The native population began to dwindle after the Spanish explorers arrived in the early 1500s. In 1823, Major Joseph Woodruff acquired the DeLeon Springs area (the infamous Fountain of Youth) and gave his name to the nearby lake. In 1964, the same year the Wilderness Act was passed, the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge was set aside as migratory bird habitat as well as Wilderness. About one-fourth of the refuge is timbered swamps.
You'll find very little evidence of human domination in this country of freshwater marshes, lakes, and streams, just plenty of wildlife. Species counted here include at least 200 birds, 42 mammals, 58 reptiles, 33 amphibians, and 68 fish. Ducks account for more than half of the migratory birds. Ospreys likewise abound, and no other refuge echoes more often with the weird cries of the limpkin. Black bears, armadillos, otters, and unusually long alligators are commonly sighted. In May and June, manatees move into the refuge and nearby Blue Springs. The bulk of visitors to the Wilderness come to walk along the several levees bisecting the managed wetland impoundments and view birds, alligators, otters, and other wildlife, or fish for bass, bream, and crappie. A large portion of the Wilderness is accessible only by boat.
The Wilderness was established along the western refuge boundary between Honey Creek and the Saint Johns River, and the Alexander Springs Wilderness lies just across the river. With neither road nor trail, the Wilderness receives few human visitors, aside from those who boat along the borders.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Lake Woodruff Wilderness.
Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge's Wilderness areas are accessible only by boat, the approximately 1,000 acres of Wilderness are located along the western refuge boundary between Honey Creek and the Saint Johns River. The Alexander Springs Wilderness lies just across the river.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
(No official title, designates Fish and Wildlife Service wildernesses) - Public law 94-557 (10/19/1976) To designate certain lands as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System and to provide designation for certain lands as Wilderness Study Areas