Pine Trail Mountain Bikers group in South Walton explores local forest trails
Group works to improve trails in Point Washington State Forest
There is a new group of cycling enthusiasts in South Walton, and they are looking for a few more members.
The Pine Trail Mountain Bikers have been exploring, enjoying and now maintaining the beautiful trails throughout the Point Washington State Forest. With only five members so far, the group is slowly making great strides in improving some of the rough areas throughout South Walton according to organizer Joe Godbee.
With the approval of the Florida Forest Service, the group has been working on a stretch of trail between CR83 and CR283 in the Blue Mountain area, along with several other areas. Using equipment borrowed from the Forest Service, the group has been clipping narrow brush covered areas, hand grubbing downed trees, and giving the trail some needed TLC. In addition, the group has also made repairs to a dilapidated bridge on the Cassine Trail in Seagrove.
“We are leaving little to no footprint, simply improving what already exists,” said Godbee. “We are hoping to make Point Washington a destination trail for visitors.”
With enough volunteers, the group hopes to improve the trails from CR83 all the way to the Eastern Lake trail.
The group meets at Big Daddy’s Bike Shop, at 2217 W. County Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach each Wednesday at 5 p.m. for a ride.
Trail Maps South Walton:
Hike or bike the Cassine trail in South Walton
Located within the Point Washington State Forest and part of its Eastern Lake Trail System, Cassine Gardens trail offers a pleasant, easy hike showcasing the diversity of Northwest Florida’s ecosystems.
The majority of this pleasant, less than one-mile hike consists of basin swamps/titi drains and wet flatwoods. Most colorful in spring and fall for the variety of wildflowers it hosts, you can enjoy this hike either by walking or biking. Midway through the hike at the turn around, the trail winds past the northwest portion of Eastern Lake. This resting spot offers a stellar view of one of the area’s rare coastal dune lakes. This location is also the connector to other legs of the trail system. Click here for entire Eastern Lake trail map
Trees and plants along the trail include Florida anise, southern magnolia, pond cypress, titi, red maple, pines, scrub oak, hickory, short-leaved rosemary, minty (wild) rosemary, fetterbush, saw palmetto, spiderwort, prickly pear cactus to name a few; along with a variety of ferns, mosses and lichen as well.
Explore nature along the boardwalk trail at Alys Beach
Not many visitors or locals are aware of a secret little trail to explore off of Scenic Highway 30A. Nestled in 22 acres of preserved wetlands within the Alys Beach community, a ¾ mile boardwalk trail takes you on a pleasant passage into nature.
Christian Wagley, former environmental coordinator at Alys Beach sought what avid explorers would appreciate when he designed the elevated trail, and planned it along areas giving the largest overview. The trail offers views of pitcher plants, cypress domes, titi trees, a variety of flowering shrubs, wildflowers and more. Interpretive displays along the path educate visitors about the various plants and wildlife that live in the area. Click here to continue
Fish, hike, paddle and enjoy birding on the coastal dune lakes of South Walton
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
Explore the Creek Trail in Santa Rosa Beach
Four miles of meandering trails a pleasant walk or bike ride
Many folks aren’t aware of a great little trail to explore in Santa Rosa Beach. Located around the busy South Walton Government Annex buildings, the Creek Trail offers four miles of hiking and biking enjoyment. Easily accessible, one can meander through the trails and enjoy the beauty of South Walton’s natural resources.
The Creek Trail totals approximately four miles of forest footpaths, multi-use paved trails, and bridges crossing over wetlands areas. A variety of trees such as sand pine, scrub oak, magnolia, titi, pond cypress and wax myrtle provide a shaded canopy throughout a portion of the trail system.
If you are looking for a short hike, bike ride or a great way to pass some time, head over to the Creek Trail. Click here to continue
Explore the Native Plant Demonstration Garden and Trail at Northwest Florida State College South Walton campus
Interested in learning about native Northwest Florida plants and ecosystems? Head over to the Northwest Florida State College South Walton campus and explore the Native Plant Demonstration Garden and Trail in Santa Rosa Beach.
The Native Plant Demonstration Garden and Trail is a joint project of the Walton County Master Gardeners, Northwest Florida State College, and the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance. This trail was developed to familiarize residents, visitors, and students with some of the most common native trees, shrubs and wildflowers that thrive in this small ecosystem in South Walton County. Click here to continue
Season brings colorful display to the Point Washington State Forest
Most any time of year, the Point Washington State Forest offers a diverse landscape for a hiker or biker to explore our area’s natural beauty. Most of the forest’s area consists of sandhill, basin swamps/titi drains, wet flatwoods, wet prairie and cypress swamps.
During the fall months, the array of wildflowers in bloom offer the explorer a colorful journey. Native flowers in bloom include wild buckweat (Eriogonum tomentosum), hairy jointweed (Polygonella basiramia), senna symeria (seymeria cassioides), goldenaster (Chrysopsis sabrella), goldenrod (Soldago tortifolia), figwort (Agalinis satacea) and blazing star (Litatris champanii) to name a few.
Several plants and animals that are listed as threatened, endangered or species of special concern exist on the Point Washington State Forest. Some of these rare species include: american kestrel (Falco sparverius), gopher tortoise, flatwoods salamander, white-topped pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla) and the world’s largest population of Curtiss sandgrass (Calamovilfa curtissii).
Located in South Walton County, the trails in the Point Washington State Forest are an easy trek with some sandy areas. Head out and explore the natural beauty of the Point Washington State Forest. Click here to continue
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
The park has more than three miles of pristine beaches and five dune lakes, which encompass more than 170 acres within more than 1,637 acres of park.
Entrance located at the western end of Scenic Road 30A
• Ranger station • Parking • Restroom • Handicap access • Nature trails • Picnic areas
A tram will take visitors to the beach, which has a boardwalk, showers and a surf chair for handicap beach accessibility. Click here to continue
Eden Gardens State Park
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.
On the first day of spring, the park is full of colorful azaleas in bloom. Bees are buzzing, the water fountains trickling and the feeling of new growth emanates all around.
The focal point of the park is the two-story Wesley house with large white columns and wrap-around porch. Originally owned by the Wesley’s a wealthy Florida timber family, the mansion was purchased in 1963 by Lois Maxon who renovated the home, and created a showplace for family heirlooms and antiques. The collection of Louis XVI furniture is the second largest in the United States. The house is now owned by the State of Florida, and is the centerpiece of the park.
Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach State Park in South Walton offers a wide variety of activities for the visitor. Along with the beautiful beaches, there are two unique trails to enjoy, along with camping and cabin rentals.
Located just west of WaterColor and east of CR 283 on Scenic Road 30A
• Restrooms • Parking • Handicap access • Nature trails • Picnic areas • Camping
Deer Lake State Park
Tucked away along Scenic Highway 30A, just west of WaterSound, this spectacular gem of a State Park offers park goers a look at intact ancient sand dune ecosystems.
An elevated walkway guides you through a small wooded area, to the rolling dunes, then down to the Gulf of Mexico. Once on the beach, you can take a walk to the west, and discover the park’s namesake, a rare coastal dune lake that empties into the Gulf.
Located on Scenic Road 30A just east of Camp Creek Lake
• Restrooms • Parking • Nature trails • Picnic areas
Camp Helen State Park
Surrounded by water on three sides, Lake Powell on the east, a salt marsh on the west, and the Gulf of Mexico on the south, this gem of a park is unique in many ways.
There are two paths to the beach from the main park area. You can choose to walk along the lake, or a path through the woods, with a dense canopy of maritime hammock.
Located just east of Walton County line on U.S. Hwy. 98. • Restrooms • Parking • Nature trails • Picnic areas