Bay County trails

Explore the Florida Trail along Econfina Creek

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.

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.

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. Extraordinary views of the creek as it rolls over limestone rock can be seen 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.

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. Click here to continue.

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Sand Pond Recreation Area at Pine Log State Forest a great place to explore nature

Dutch and Faye Trail at Sand Pond Recreation Area. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

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

Pine Log State Forest Dutch and Faye Trail primitive camping site overlooks Pine Log Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

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.

Pine Log offers an 11.5-mile horse trail in the main forest area, along with a 9, 4.5 and 5.5-mile bike/hike trail and 2-mile campground trail to explore within the Sand Pond Recreation Area. Scenic boardwalks overlook cypress ponds provide panoramic views. Picnic areas, grills and tables are scattered throughout the recreation area offering relaxing respite during your day of exploring.

The main campground area offers 20 campsites fully equipped with electric and water hook-ups. Restrooms with showers and a sanitary dumping station are located on site. Five primitive campsite areas are located off the trails on Pine Log Creek.

Location/fees:
Pine Log State Forest is located off of Environmental Road on Hwy 79. Admission is $2 per vehicle for day use, $20/night for camping with electrical hookup and $10 for primitive camping. Camping is limited to 14 consecutive days during any 30-day period. A senior citizens (65 and over) and disabled persons discount is available.

For more information, contact Pine Log State Forest at (850) 535-2888.

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A variety of nature trails await the explorer at Conservation Park in Panama City Beach

Boardwalks span over the wetlands at Conservation Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Looking for a great park to explore and hike a new trail? Then head over to the newly completed Conservation Park in Panama City Beach for a great little nature trek.

With more than 22 miles of trails, the newly completed Conservation Park in Panama City offers a variety of choices suited for both the bicyclist and hiker. There are several marked trails along with way finding kiosks to point the hiker in the right direction. More than a mile of boardwalks offer overlooks into the wetland areas with great views of pond cypress trees towering above. The park also boasts shaded picnic areas, an outdoor amphitheater, restrooms and ADA access.

A variety of trails to choose from at Conservation Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Formerly a pine plantation, native habitat includes 800 acres of sand pine scrub and pine flat woods, with the remaining wetland areas boasting several large cypress domes.

The park project began more than 10 years ago as an alternative to routing treated wastewater into West Bay. The 3,000-acre parcel was purchased by Panama City Beach from St. Joe Company to create a dispersing basin.

More than 14 miles of new pipes disperse the water in four separate areas throughout the park. Outfall structures release the treated water at ground level in a natural setting. Click here to continue

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Something for everyone at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach

A view of the Gulf from one of the trails at St. Andrews State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

One of Florida’s top 10 parks chock full of adventure

It doesn’t take long to understand why St. Andrews State Park is consistently named one of the top ten parks in the State of Florida. With more than 1,200 acres to explore, this park offers something for everyone to enjoy.

For the nature lover, St. Andrews is host to salt marshes, sand pine scrub and rolling sand dunes along more than 1 ½ miles of beach on the Gulf of Mexico. The marsh areas are home to nesting snowy egrets, great egrets, blue herons and little blue herons. The park’s shoreline is the perfect habitat for nesting shorebirds as well such as least terns and snowy plovers. Other fauna commonly found in the park include white-tailed deer, gopher tortoise, raccoon, coyote, alligator, marsh rabbit and cottontail rabbit. Click here to continue

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