Located in the heart of the Florida Panhandle, Washington County encompasses 580 square miles including the communities of Chipley and Vernon, Ebro, Wausau, Caryville, New Hope, Sunny Hills, Five Points, Greenhead, Redhead, and Hinson’s Crossroads. Washington County is within easy access on Interstate 10 from Tallahassee and Pensacola and Highway 231 to Panama City and Dothan, Alabama.
Visitors to the Washington County can enjoy beautiful scenery and a wide range of outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, boating, canoeing, camping, horseback riding, motorcycle riding and golfing. The county also hosts pleasurable events throughout the year, drawing in visitors from around the state of Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Head to Vernon for a day of paddling fun on Holmes Creek
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
Enjoy fern-covered ancient sinkholes and more 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.
A boardwalk path wraps around several ancient sinkholes with huge magnolias shooting up from the bases of the fern and moss-covered holes along Sink Hole Trail. The main feature, Falling Waters sink is the largest in the park at 100-foot deep, and 20-foot wide. Click here to continue
A colorful journey awaits you on Econfina Creek
Pack a lunch and bring your snorkel, for you are about the enjoy the paddle of a lifetime as you explore the creek and its many crystal clear springs along the popular seven-mile trip down the creek. Cabbage palms drape over the water’s edge along with blooming wildflowers scattering the banks with color during your journey in the spring and summer months. Steep, fern-covered limestone walls prevail along the second half of the paddle, where the creek slices into the ancient limestone of the Floridan Aquifer.
On a hot and humid summer’s day the creek takes on an ethereal feel as a fog layer hangs suspended in the air when the cool water meets the hot air.
The northern portions of the creek are difficult with many logjams and shallow water. Most paddlers opt to put in at the Econfina Livery as the livery offers the option of pick up and return at the take out at SR 388 bridge. They also have kayaks and canoes available for rent. Click here to continue
Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park in Chipley offers miles of off road trails
Are you into off road trail riding? Northwest Florida’s newest offering in Chipley might have just what you’re looking for.
Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park opened in 2010 by off road bike enthusiasts Ted Everett and Dexter Leadbeater. Custom groomed trails transverse and wind around more than 700 acres in the pinewoods off Hwy. 277.
“It’s all about the passion,” said Leadbeater, a life long fan of the sport.
The trails are designed for all skill levels and ages. Several races are held during the year including training classes hosted by nationally ranked competitors.
The park is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. in winter, until 6 p.m. in summer. Click here to learn more
Seacrest Wolf Preserve provides safe haven for displaced gray wolves
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
Hike, bike, camp and horseback ride at Sand Pond Recreation Area in Pine Log State Forest
Looking for a fun place to explore nature with the family? Load up the bikes and head over to Pine Log State Forest for a day of exploring trails. Located in Ebro on Highway 79, just south of State Road 20, Pine Log State Forest provides the perfect family outing. The Sand Pond Recreation Area is home to a diverse mix of flora and fauna. White tail deer, gopher tortoise, southern milkweed, white-top pitcher plants and Chapman’s crownbeard are just a few of the natural discoveries you may experience along the trails. Click here for trail map
There are various natural communities within the area including pine flatwoods, cypress ponds and titi swamps. Pine Log State Forest has three named streams running through it: Pine Log Creek, Little Crooked Creek and Ditch Branch as well as several small lakes and ponds. Click here to continue
Take a hike on the Florida Trail along Econfina Creek
Hiking the Florida Trail along the Econfina Creek just north of Panama City is a must do for anyone who enjoys nature.
This portion of the Trail in Northwest Florida runs along the creek for a stretch of approximately 18 miles, with three convenient accesses. Choose from Scott Road trail head off of U.S. Hwy. 231 just north of Fountain; SR 20 trailhead between SR 77 and U.S. Hwy 231 near Pitt Spring or Walsingham Bridge, accessible via Strickland Road off of SR 20 north of Pitt Spring.
From Scott’s Road access, Two Penny Bridge is a two-mile trek over moderate terrain. Enjoy extraordinary views of the creek as it rolls over limestone rock along this section. In the springtime, you can find mountain laurel and rhododendron blooming along with vibrant Florida anise. In the fall, a variety of hardwoods provide subtle color changes with red and orange hues along this shady trail.
Two miles in from Scott Road access is an incredible suspension bridge the Florida Trail Association recently built crossing the Econfina Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors.
For a short 4-mile hike, Two Penny Bridge will be your turnaround point. The trek from Scott’s Road to Walsingham Bridge is 10 miles. The Walsingham area has camping facilities, picnic tables and portable toilet facility.
This section of the Florida Trail is owned by Northwest Florida Water Management District, and is chock full of recreation opportunities. Equestrian trails, paddling, birding, swimming, hunting and fishing are all available in close proximity to the creek. Econfina recreationarea map shows detailed information on the recreation area.
Pack a lunch and make a day of it, or pack your gear and camp out. This is Northwest Florida’s nature at its best. Note there is wildlife along the trail including snakes and ticks in the warmer months. Keeping an eye on where you are walking and check yourself for ticks when you exit the forest area.
Click here information about the Econfina Creek.
For more information about the Florida Trail, click here.
Explore the Econfina Wildlife Management area on horseback with Sunshine Riding Trails
Interested in taking a guided horse trail ride through Northwest Florida’s beautiful Econfina Wildlife Management Area? Head on over to the Sunshine Riding Trails, the great folks there will saddle you up for a day of enjoyable riding.
Owned by Kathy and David Rich, Sunshine Riding Trails offers Tennessee Walkers and Paso Finos for most every age and skill level. They offer 1 2, 3, or 4-hour rides along the area’s beautiful equestrian trails. A day of sightseeing is in store as you meander through long leaf pine restoration areas, ponds, small creeks, and moss covered forests.
Riders will receive a bit of training before the ride to ensure you will be comfortable handling your horse. Be prepared to spoil your ride, as a pouch of carrots will be supplied keep your steed happy.
Learn more at: http://sunshineridingtrails.com
Trail Ride rates:
1 hour: $35.00
2 hour: $50.00
3 hour: $75.00
4 hour: $100.00 (includes lunch)
Overnight camping trips: $175.00 per person
Rates are per person adult or child
Call for reservations at: Toll Free: (888) 335-8530 or (850) 773-1900
2273 Rolling Pines Road
Chipley, FL 32428-3658
Swim, picnic and enjoy nature at Pitt and Sylvan springs Recreation Area
Looking for a place to take a dip in a spring and grill a few dogs and burgers? Head over to the newly renovated Pitt and Sylvan Springs and enjoy a day nestled in nature along Econfina Creek.
Located along State Road 20 in Bay County, this public recreation area recently went through major restoration by Northwest Florida Water Management District. The endeavor was the first phase of the District’s Econfina Springs Complex – Spring Restoration and Protection Project.
The project for the 10-acre park was a long process, with initial planning beginning in 2006. Heavily eroded creek banks were restored with root balls and water friendly trees such as wax myrtle and Carolina willow were placed to prevent future erosion.
The main park area improvements include easier access to Pitt Spring, three pavilions with picnic tables, grills, and boardwalk trails through the park to the Sylvan Springs over look area. There you can easily view the tiny spring boils bubble up through the limestone.
Colorful interpretive signs educate the nature lover on the boardwalk trails. An improved canoe dock on Econfina Creek was added, along with a tube launch dock near Sylvan Spring run confluence to the creek. Depending on the water levels, these dock areas can be tricky to access by canoe or kayak.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset. There are no lifeguards on duty. No pets allowed except service dogs. There is ADA access to most of the park and an environmentally friendly self-composting rest room facility has been installed as well.
Entrance to the park can be made from either State Road 20 or Strickland Road. ::MAP::
Location: Bay County–Lat. 30° 25’ 58.68” N., Long. 85° 32’ 47.14” W.