Eco Adventures

Explore along the Choctawhatchee River with Backwater Tours

 

Explore the waterways of the Choctawhatchee River with Andy Coleman of Backwater Tours. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Explore the waterways of the Choctawhatchee River with Andy Coleman of Backwater Tours. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Interested in exploring a tucked away crystal clear spring on the Choctawhatchee River? Head out and discover nature at its best on with a river cruise with Backwater Tours.

Captain Andy Coleman knows the Choctawhatchee River waterways and shares stories of its history as a major thoroughfare for logging and commerce. Living here and exploring the area since 1976, Capt. Andy will take you to some tucked away places only the locals know. One of those special places is a spring run with clear, cool water.

Explore the spring run on a YOLO board with Backwater tours. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Explore the spring run on a YOLO board with Backwater tours. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The vessel is a 26 ½ ft. Panga that glides through the water smooth and easy. A a nature lover himself, Capt. Andy also enjoys exploring the water on a YOLO stand up paddle board. He will bring a few boards along to explore the crystal clear waters of a spring run.

The vessel can hold up to six adventurers, and snacks and drinks are provided. Four hour and two hour tours are available. The boat launches from the Point Washington boat ramp on CR395 in Santa Rosa Beach.

Expect to see a variety of wading birds, osprey, turtles, and maybe a gator or two. Head out and explore the real Florida with Backwater Tours.

Call YOLO Board Adventures to book a trip at 850-419-6188, or call Andy directly at 850-865-0420.

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YOLO Board Adventures offers stand up paddleboard rentals in South Walton

New YOLO boarder explores Western Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Explore area waterways from three locations

Always wanted to try the stand up paddleboard experience? Opportunity awaits the novice and experienced SUP’er at YOLO Board Adventures in South Walton.

YOLO Board Adventures offers three locations to paddle – Western Lake at the WaterColor Boathouse, The Red Bar in Grayton Beach and YOLO’s newest location at Baytowne Marina in Sandestin. YOLO Yaks, beginner and intermediate soft top boards are offered at all three locations.

Classes, group paddles, paddle fit classes are offered at all three locations, along with eco tours at the WaterColor location.

Head out and enjoy the beautiful waterways of South Walton with YOLO Board Adventures!

Fees: Rentals start at $25/hr. which includes board, PFD, paddle and leash.

YOLO Board Adventures are open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information and reservations, call (850) 419-6188 or go to: www.yoloboardadventures.com

Locations:
WaterColor Boathouse ::MAP::
Baytowne Marina, Sandestin ::MAP::

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Explore the natural beauty of Campbell Lake at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Water lilies along Campbell Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton OutdoorsCampbell Lake at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is no doubt one of the most pristine coastal dune lakes in South Walton County. Carefully maintained by the Park, this close to 100-acre lake is host to amazing natural beauty. Surrounded by dunes and maritime forests, the lake is also home to an abundance of native flora.

Bald cypress, fragrant water lilies, spatterdock, and black needlerush can be found, along with floating hearts just offshore which make the waves appear to flash green. Tiny, purple carnivorous bladderworts pop up in the water near the lilies. American Wisteria can be found in two places along the lake, Panhandle meadow beauty endemic to the area can be found during lower water levels along the sandy shore, large-leaf jointweed can also be found along the upland sandy areas, along with a nice St. Johns Wort “forest” on the north shore. Click here to continue

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Paddle Basin Bayou and enjoy a meal at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Four scenic locations to paddle up an appetite and enjoy a great lunch

Some of Northwest Florida’s most scenic natural landscapes can be found right here in Walton County. Kayakers, canoeists and stand up paddle boarders have many locations to enjoy nature’s delights just a few paddle strokes away.

If you are interested in venturing on a paddle excursion but can’t afford to spend the entire day, our area boasts several short excursions you can top off with a great lunch afterward.

Here are four great pairings for a short, there and back paddle you can top off with a great meal.

Basin Bayou / Nick’s Seafood Restaurant

::MAP::

Basin Bayou is approximately 1 mile long and a ½ mile wide. Located off of SR 20 east of Niceville and west of Freeport, the bayou is easily accessed via a boat ramp next to Nick’s Seafood Restaurant. The folks at Nick’s don’t mind if you launch from their ramp, especially if you plan to indulge in some great eats there before or after your paddle. Click to continue

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A great blue heron scans Lake Fuller. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Former WWII missile test launch facility home to diverse sand pine trails at Coffee Nature Preserve

As many people buzz up and down U.S. Highway 98 in Santa Rosa Beach, few ever notice the small entrance signs to the Coffeen Nature Preserve and Four Mile Village. Nestled just east of Tops’l Beach and Racquet Resort and just west of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, however, is a 210-acre protected land trust chock full of local history.

Robert Busnell of Massachusetts purchased the parcel in his mother’s name, Mary in 1944. Although the land had already been timbered, he recognized the natural beauty of the rolling dunes and panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.

However, shortly after purchasing the land it the Army/Air Force took acquisition of the land for a top-secret military operation.

Chosen for its elevated sand dune ridge, Coffeen became the testing site of the JB-2 missile, the America-built version of the famous German V-1 “buzz bomb” that destroyed thousands of lives in Great Britain during WWII. Click here to continue

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Head up Highway 79 to Vernon for a day of
paddling fun on Holmes Creek

Paddling down Holmes Creek.Self guided, guided or rentals available

Holmes Creek is one of the most diverse paddles in the Northwest Florida Panhandle area.

As part of Florida’s statewide system of Greenways and Trails, Holmes Creek flows through a variety of diverse habitats.  The upper and lower portions pass high sandy banks while the majority of the trial is through low-lying swamplands.

As part of Florida’s statewide system of Greenways and Trails, Holmes Creek flows through a variety of diverse habitats.  The upper and lower portions pass high sandy banks while the majority of the tail is through low-lying swamplands.

Rich with flora and fauna, the creek is abundant with turtles and birds, including blue, green and white heron, ibis, warblers and woodpeckers.

Click here to continue

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Explore the Mitchell River and Black Creek in Walton County

Boating along adjacent waterways provide a for laid back day up the creek

Cypress and juniper trees along with saw palmetto line the banks of the Mitchell River.

Cypress and juniper trees along with saw palmetto line the banks of the Mitchell River.

Self guided

Accessible from either the Choctawhatchee Bay or one of several boat ramps off of CR 3280 such as Black Creek Lodge, Black Creek and the Mitchell River are two waterways that offer the perfect opportunity to explore nature, fish or bird watch.

Cypress and juniper trees hang lazily over the water, and the tall cypress provides the perfect perch for wetland raptors such as osprey and swallow-tailed kites.  They are often seen scanning the water from above looking for their next meal.

A large variety of flowers bloom along the banks during the spring and summer, and include such species as spider lilies, pickerelweed, water lilies and trumpet creepers.

Makeshift campsites scattered along the raised banks of the Mitchell River provide the perfect spot to picnic or camp. Over they years, locals have built shelters and barbecue areas, making these locations great places to pull your boat up and picnic or camp overnight.

Click here to continue

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A guide to four of the best rope swings in the Florida Panhandle

Morrison Springs is located in northeast Walton County. ©Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Self guided

Summer is here and folks are looking for fun ways to cool off. Walton county and the surrounding area has many creeks and springs to enjoy beating the heat and here is a list of four great places to take a swing.

Morrison Springs

This 161-acre park is well known in Walton and popular with divers and nature enthusiasts across the south. Cypress trees abound around the spring with their crisp, bright green needles defining the landscape. The spring provides an aqua color inviting everyone in for a dip.
The highlight of the park is a 250-foot diameter spring pool that produces an estimated 48 million gallons of crystal clear water each day and has been recorded to produce up to 70 million gallons a day.
More than 575 linear ft. of boardwalks meandering through the ancient cypress trees, and span into the springs to a diver’s launching area, with a 10×10 ft. 9,000 lb. floating concrete platform.
Restroom facilities, a pavilion with picnic area, wash stations, showers and handicap access are available at the park now, offering it the perfect family destination. ::MAP::
To find out more about Morrison Springs, Click here

Alaqua Creek Park

This public park and boat launch is a favorite of locals in Freeport. It is located on SR 20 for approximately 2 miles west of downtown Freeport. Park is on the north side of State Road 20.
• Picnic area, boat ramp, restroom, swimming, portable toilet ::MAP::

Holmes Creek Livery

Holmes Creek Livery has a two-tier swing platform. ©Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Holmes Creek Livery and county park is located just south of Vernon off of SR 79 in Washington County. The park is located just north of the bridge across Holmes Creek.
Picnic area and Portable restroom available.
Holmes Creek Canoe Livery offers tandem aluminum canoes for rent. The livery will drop you off and pick you up at a variety of locations depending on how long a journey you wish to take. ::MAP::
To learn more about Holmes Creek Livery: Click here

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Four-mile paddle on Peach Creek offers views of native flora and fauna

Located in the historic Point Washington area of Walton County, Peach Creek offers a pleasant paddle exploring nature.

The enjoyable, four-mile journey takes you along a wetland forest shoreline of black titi, red maple, and slash pine trees along with highbush blueberries and saw palmetto. Coastal water birds such as pelicans, gulls, cormorants and seagulls are abundant along with raptors such as osprey and swallow-tailed kites. You might also discover an alligator or two along the way.

Parking and launch area is located at the north end of CR 395. Limited parking is available along the county easement area on each the side of the road. Click here to continue

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Explore Seven Runs creek in Walton County

Self guided, guided

Small scenic creek near Bruce a quiet journey of natural beauty

Seven Runs creek, located off of State Road 81, just north of Bruce, in northeast Walton County is a scenic paddle through hardwood wetlands and cypress swamps.

A short, 2-3 mile paddle, this fairly swift moving creek provides a few twists and turns before it flows into the swampy cypress tree filled forest of extraordinary beauty. Twisted cypress roots bellow out of the bottom of the forest floor, and with a little imagination, the shady canopy and trees provide a backdrop to a fairy tale.

Eventually emptying into the Choctawhatchee River, you can take out before you reach the river at a county boat launch off of Dead River Road. This location makes for an easy shuttle with two vehicles. The boat launch offers a picnic area and portable restroom facility. Click here to continue

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Fish, hike, paddle and enjoy birding on the
coastal dune lakes of South Walton

Self guided, guided or rentals available

Recreational activities abound on these rare coastal dune lakes

Walton County Florida is well known for its beautiful beaches and great fishing. Less known to those that have never visited the area, are the unique and scenic coastal dune lakes that dot the coastline along the area’s beach dune systems.

Nestled along Scenic Highway 30A, Walton county’s coastal dune lakes are rare geological features that only occur in the Florida Panhandle, Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand and the northern Pacific coast of the United States.

Streams, groundwater seepage and rain are the sources that feed the coastal dune lakes. Storm surge creates intermittent connections to the Gulf of Mexico, called outfalls. This periodic connection empties lake water into the Gulf, and, depending on tides and weather, salt water and organisms from the Gulf flow back into the lakes. Click to continue

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Wildlife abounds on Section 1 of the Chipola River Paddling Trail

A barred owl perched along the Chipola River.

A barred owl perched along the Chipola River.

Self guided, guided

Part of Florida’s Greenways and Trails, the 51-mile Chipola Paddling Trail is the largest tributary of the Apalachicola, and boasts 63 fresh water springs, the largest number of any river shed in Northwest Florida. The trail runs from just south of the Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna in Jackson County, south to just east and south of Clarksville in Calhoun County, Florida.

Diverse in flora and fauna, the river cuts through limestone rock and boasts caves and springs accessible for exploration. A cave nicknamed “The Oven” along Section 1 of the river can be easily explored with a headlamp or flashlight.

Trees provide a comfortable canopy of shade for a good portion of the journey and provide excellent habitat for wildlife. Bald cypress, green ash, loblolly bay, swamp gum, sweet bay, tupelo gum, water hickory are some of the species that line the river, with bluestem palmetto abundant beneath.

Click here to continue

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Enjoy an early morning paddle along the Chain of Lakes in Ebro

    Cypress trees tower above as you paddle the Chain of Lakes.

Cypress trees tower above as you paddle the Chain of Lakes.

Self guided, guided

If you are looking for an extraordinary paddle to explore the Choctawhatchee River’s tributaries without the powerful current of the river, there is a little known place of incredible beauty near Ebro called the “Chain of Lakes.”

This pristine paddle offers a dreamy experience through a canopied corridor of wetland forest. Pileated woodpeckers hammer on the old growth cypress trees which tower above the waterways in grandiose beauty.

To explore these lake areas takes about 2 hours as you meaner through the narrow paths and openings. There are no places to take out, leaving this area pristine for the true nature enthusiast.

Note: Be careful getting too close to the opening to the river as strong eddies can be dangerous in high water river level situations.

Click here to continue

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shoal3 Hike/PaddleEnjoy a lazy paddle down the Shoal River

Self guided or guided

The appropriately named Shoal River offers an abundance of sandy sandbars, (shoals) along with cool water along a meandering 10-mile paddle in Crestview. This 10-mile stretch is the only open publicly accessible run on the river. It is easily accessible with a boat ramp at each end, with put in at U.S. Hwy. 90 and take out a SR-85 in Crestview.

As part of the Florida Greenways and Trails system, the paddle offers scenic views of a variety of wetland hardwoods such as Titi, black gum, live oak, magnolia and coastal plain willow. Fauna includes a variety of birds such as kingfishers, blue herons and egrets, along with an occasional alligator and turtle.

Click here to continue

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Enjoy abundant flora while paddling down Boiling Creek

Pitcher plants are some of the wide variety of wildflowers you will find along Boiling Creek.

Pitcher plants are some of the wide variety of wildflowers you will find along Boiling Creek.

Self guided, guided

Located off of Hwy. 87, south of Milton and north of Navarre, Boiling Creek is lined with towering old-growth cypress trees, and an abundance of flora, including water lilies, pitcher plants, water lotus and spatterdocks. The water is clear, and colorful underwater grasses rippling below can be easily viewed as you meander down the slow moving creek.

The creek is approximately 25 feet wide for most of the paddle, and common sights are turtles, ospreys, hawks and other birds, such as woodpeckers. There are a few sloughs you can explore that offer a closer look at the blooming wildflowers.

There are only one or two places to stop along the 6.6-mile paddle. The first one you will find will be a cleared area on the left as you paddle down and is called “Rope Drop,” as the area was originally an old home place and now used by Army and Navy survival teams for training. The second is just a bit further down and also on the left.

The last portion of the trip is where the creek meets with the Yellow River. Much wider than the creek, the Yellow River does not offer the clarity of the creek, making the first part of the paddle the most picturesque. Click here to continue

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Head up Highway 79 to Vernon for a day of paddling fun on Holmes Creek

Paddling down Holmes Creek.

Self guided, guided or rentals available

Holmes Creek is one of the most diverse paddles in the Northwest Florida Panhandle area.

As part of Florida’s statewide system of Greenways and Trails, Holmes Creek flows through a variety of diverse habitats. The upper and lower portions pass high sandy banks while the majority of the trial is through low-lying swamplands.

Rich with flora and fauna, the creek is abundant with turtles and birds, including blue, green and white heron, ibis, warblers and woodpeckers.

Click here to continue

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Swift and clear, Turkey Creek brings lots of paddling action. Lori Ceier/WaltonOutdoors.comTwists, turns and fun along Turkey Creek

Self guided, guided

Located on Eglin AFB Reservation, just off of SR 85, the Turkey Creek paddle is approximately 9 miles long.

Swift and clear, the first two thirds of the paddle is tight, as the creek is only about 25 ft. wide, full of logs and sandy, shallow bottoms. Trees hang over the water, providing good shade and cool water for the journey.

About 5 miles into the paddle, Turkey Creek joins with Juniper Creek where it widens, and eventually empties into Boggy Bayou in Valparaiso, just west of Niceville. Click here to continue

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Fish, hike, paddle and enjoy birding on the coastal dune lakes of South Walton

Recreational activities abound on these rare coastal dune lakes

Self guided, guided or rentals available

Walton County Florida is well known for its beautiful beaches and great fishing. Less known to those that have never visited the area, are the unique and scenic coastal dune lakes that dot the coastline along the area’s beach dune systems.

Nestled along Scenic Highway 30A, Walton county’s coastal dune lakes are rare geological features that only occur in the Florida Panhandle, Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand and the northern Pacific coast of the United States.

Streams, groundwater seepage and rain are the sources that feed the coastal dune lakes. Storm surge creates intermittent connections to the Gulf of Mexico, called outfalls. This periodic connection empties lake water into the Gulf, and, depending on tides and weather, salt water and organisms from the Gulf flow back into the lakes. Click here to continue

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Serenity awaits the nature lover at the Choctaw Lodge Bed and Breakfast

Paradise found on the Choctawhatchee River

Guide Services/Bed and Breakfast
When Ron and Kathryn Hardy of Panama City Beach walked into Sandi’s Feed and Seed in Lynn Haven back in 2009, they had little idea about how dramatically their lives were about to change.

Spotting a small index card on a bulletin board with a message “Riverfront Property For Sale,” the couple decided to find out more about an area they knew little about, the Choctawhatchee River.

Both of them grew up as “river rats,” according to Kathryn, who grew up along the Ocmulgee River in southeast Georgia and Ron near the Tensaw River in the Mobile River Delta in Alabama. After marrying, the couple would frequently go all the way to the Mobile area for their river weekend getaways.

The property for sale had nothing more than a small singlewide trailer situated right along the river. It did however, have a great porch with a spectacular view, and the couple were immediately taken – hook, line and sinker. They purchased the property and began spending every weekend on the river. Read More…

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Explore a coastal dune lake with Walco Eco Tours

Guide Services
Learn about South Walton’s rare coastal dune lakes and dune ecosystems

Murray Balkcom, South Walton resident, Realtor and eco tour guide is a man of many facets and talents.

Raised on a farm in southwest Ga. near Lake Eufala, Ala., Murray has spent most of his life enjoying the outdoors.

Out of college, and working a 70 hrs. a week job, Murray had little time for recreational activities.

Deciding it was time for something different, Murray left the confines of the job, and ventured out to do some exploring and learning about life. Starting with the Outward Bound program, he took on mastering mountaineering, teamwork and survivalist skills; and quickly learned there were more things to life than just working. Click here to continue

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Morrison Springs offers spectacular scenery both above and below the water line

Nothing better than a rope swing into 68 degree clear water on a hot summer's day.

Nothing better than a rope swing into 68 degree clear water on a hot summer’s day.

Self guided tour

Walton County offers many places to explore. In the summertime, the one that can’t be beat is Morrison Springs in the Northeastern part of the county.

Just south of Ponce De Leon, the 161-acre park is well known in the area, and popular with divers and nature enthusiasts across the south. Cypress trees abound around the spring with their crisp, bright green needles defining the landscape. The spring provides an aqua color inviting everyone in for a dip. Click here to continue

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A peaceful journey for nature lovers awaits at the Shoal Sanctuary

Trails, sculptures and serenity await the nature lover in Mossy Head

Host guided tour
Tucked away off the beaten path in north Walton County there is a unique outdoor experience for nature lovers called the Shoal Sanctuary.

Located on 50 acres of trails, sculptures and serene vistas, proprietors Robert and Chris Larson welcome visitors to their retreat dedicated to sharing the beauty of the outdoor experience and appreciation of Mother Nature’s gifts.

Recorded history dates back to the 1830s. The property is believed to of been along the path of the “Trail Of Tears.” After the U.S. government’s “Indian Removal Act,” Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Timuquan, Muskhogean, and Apalachee were forced migrate west,  and lore sites a leg of that journey along the old Indian footpath now called Crowder Chapel Road near the retreat. Local Native Americans have said that Shoal Sanctuary was once a ceremonial gathering place. Click here to continue

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Seacrest Wolf Preserve provides safe haven for displaced gray wolves and an experience not easily forgotten

Host guided tour
Cynthia Watkins, owner of the Seacrest Wolf Preserve has been fond of animals as long as she can remember. A show breeder of Siberian Huskies early on in her career, she became interested in the conservation of wolves in the 1980s. In 1995, Cynthia became involved with the Yellowstone National Park Wolf Reintroduction Program where she experienced her first physical contact with a wolf.

“The experience stoked the fire of conservation in my heart,” Cynthia said beaming with enthusiasm for the animals.

What started off as a small conservation effort in 1999, Cynthia and her husband Wayne now care for 25 pure gray wolves along with several other animals at their preserve.

The primary goal of the Seacrest Wolf Preserve is to provide a safe, humane habitat for displaced wolves. Their interpretive educates visitors on their beauty, intelligence and importance of the animal’s role as a keystone species in their natural environment. Click here to continue

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Enjoy fern-covered ancient sinkholes at Falling Waters State Park

Fourteen different species of fern can be disovered at Falling Waters State Park.

Fourteen different species of fern can be disovered at Falling Waters State Park.

Self guided tour

Depending on what time of year you visit Falling Waters State Park, you may or may not view a cascading waterfall into a 100-foot deep ancient sinkhole, as the waterfall is dependent on the ground seepage from rainfall.

However, if you are a nature lover, don’t let the lack of a waterfall deter your interest in visiting this 173-acre State Park, as the geological wonders of the gigantic sinkholes are perhaps the most interesting feature this park provides. Click here to continue

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A delightful journey to Grayton Beach State Park

scubsSelf guided tour

Those that live in the Florida Panhandle are blessed with the diversity and natural beauty of our local State parks, and one of those beauties is Grayton Beach State Park.

Nestled on both the south and north of Scenic 30A, I had forgotten how lovely the park was, until I re-examined it again recently with my own personal tour guide, Patrick Hartsfield, Park Service Specialist.

Click here to continue

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poncespring1Ponce De Leon State Park offers a perfect place for a picnic and a cool swim

Self guided tour
Just outside the Walton County line is one of the coolest places to take a dip in a spring, Ponce de Leon Springs State Park. As the water stays a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, both locals and visitors enjoy this nature-made swimming pool, which is a convergence of two underground water flows, producing 14 million gallons of water daily.

Click here to continue

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A journey to the Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve

A band of Rustafarians greet visitors at Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve. Lori Ceier/WaltonOutdoors.com

A band of Rustafarians greet visitors at Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve. Lori Ceier/WaltonOutdoors.com

Host guided tours
Up in the Northern part of Walton County sits an extraordinary and interesting place called the Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve. What a great morning I had off the beaten path, exploring living things, rusted things, and eco-friendly methods of laying the deceased to rest. Where else can you find a bamboo farm, Rustaphorian sculptures, a chufa farmer and a green burial ground?

John Wilkerson, along with his brother Bill and John’s better half, Barbara run the Preserve, and offer the only green burial option available in Northwest Florida. Not only can you acquire this eco-friendly option, the Wilkerson’s offer what John calls “the perfect eco coup.”

Click here to continue

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edeninspringActivity fills Eden Gardens State Park on the first day of spring

Self Guided

One of the most beautiful parks in Walton County sits along Tucker Bayou in Point Washington in South Walton County. Large moss covered live oaks, gardens, walking trails and panoramic views of the bayou provide a visual delight for the visitor to this historic Florida State Park.

Click here to continue

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Enjoy nature and history at Camp Helen State Park

A trail to the beach at Camp Helen. Lori Ceier/Walton OutdoorsSelf Guided

I was hesitant to share my most favorite place to venture, a little bit selfish in a way, wanting to keep this “secret” treasure all to myself. However, the beauty of Camp Helen State Park should be shared and appreciated by everyone wanting to experience the splendor of the area’s biodiversity.

My friend Sherry McCall and I always look forward to enjoying Camp Helen. We both agree, there is no better place to spend a gorgeous morning.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE

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A journey into the Choctawhatchee River

Guide Services
As usual, eager to experience something new, I was on time as I headed into Point Washington to meet Kent Mundy of Wetland Wilderness Adventures for my next journey.

Alligator along Bunker Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

As I arrived at the north end of CR 395, Kent had his boat prepped and in the water at the Tucker Bayou boat ramp.

“I’m always early and ready to go,” he said.

We headed out, and in a few minutes, Kent was navigating down the narrow waterways into the Bunker Creek area.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE

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Take a journey into an old growth swamp forest at Tilley Landing

Lost Lake at Tilley Landing. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Lost Lake at Tilley Landing. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Self Guided
Driving down the sloping gravel road, I felt the temperature drop slightly, and soon noticed the changes in the flora as I ventured into the swamp forest of the Choctawhatchee River Basin.

About 1.7 miles down, I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland as she tumbled down the rabbit hole.

I finally arrived at the end of the road to Lost Lake; an oxbow-shaped lake filled with old-growth cypress trees and murky calm water. So quiet and peaceful, this place appeared frozen in time.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE

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Enjoy the indigenous beauty of Florida Caverns State Park

The Wedding Cake formation in the cave. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Boasting more than 1,300 acres, the Florida Caverns State Park has a much to offer visitors interested in the exploring the outdoors.

The caverns are the biggest draw to the park, with 32 caves nestled within the park; the largest open to the public for exploration.

The main cavern contains several rooms with dazzling formations of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and other fascinating features including a towering formation called the “wedding cake.” Some other formations are shaped like ribbons and drapes, gently rippling down from the walls of the cavern. With a constant 65 degrees and 100 percent humidity, the cavern is an eerily stunning experience, and not to be missed.

Cavern tours are given every hour from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm CST Thursday through Monday, but not on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Florida Caverns State Park has a rich and long history as its beginnings date back to the early 1930s. The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) developed the cave – removing stones, widened passages and also working on the visitor’s center that was completed in 1942. Back then, the Corps workers made $1.00/day for their labors during the Depression. Read more

2 Responses to Eco Adventures

  1. dick madison says:

    Hi

    We will be staying in Sandestin the month of Feb.
    Do you have any activities at that time?
    thanks

    dick

  2. Depending on what your interests are there are several opportunities to choose from.

    Holmes Creek Livery is typically closed in the winter months, however if you give them a call, they more than likely will open up and rent you a canoe to paddle down Holmes Creek. They will also shuttle you to the put in location so when you take out you will be where your vehicle is. Tel: 850-210-7001, 850-956-2074. Here is the link to info: http://www.waltonoutdoors.com/rent-a-canoe-at-holmes-creek-livery-in-vernon-florida/

    There is a great guide named Karl Renelt with Into The Wild Eco Diversions. Karl knows the area well and can offer you a great outdoor experience designed specifically to your interests and abilities. He offers kayak, hiking, biking and sailing. You can contact him here: Tel: 850-974-2258 http://www.itwecodiversions.com/

    If you are interested in renting your own kayak or bike, the great folks at Big Daddy’s on Scenic Hwy. 30A can offer you rentals and advice on places to go. Phone: 850-622-1165 or go to: http://bigdaddysrentals.com/

    We have several great State parks in the area with Topsail Hill Preserve being a wonderful place to explore the beach and feel like you have it all to yourself. Here is a story link: http://www.waltonoutdoors.com/a-look-at-topsail-hill-state-preserve/

    Grayton Beach State Park also has trails and a beautiful beach. You can also rent a canoe there and paddle on a coastal dune lake out to the Gulf of Mexico. http://www.waltonoutdoors.com/a-delightful-journey-to-grayton-beach-state-park/

    There is also several trails in the Point Washington State Forest and other local areas: http://www.waltonoutdoors.com/take-a-hike/

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