South Walton County hiking trails

Trail Maps South Walton:
TopsailHillStateParkTrail
PointWashingtonTrail
GreenwayTrail
GraytonBeachTrails
DeerLakeTrail

Hike or bike the Point Washington State Forest

South Walton County is home to an abundance of conservation land accessible to visitors and locals to explore. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, are a just a few ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Located in Santa Rosa Beach along the U.S. Hwy. 98 corridor, Point Washington State Forest boats more than 15,000 acres of recreation opportunities.

The Forest was purchased under Florida’s Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) program in 1992. Using an ecosystem management approach, the Florida Forest Service provides for multiple uses of the forest resources. The forest is managed for timber, wildlife, outdoor recreation and ecological restoration. Most of the forest 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. Some of the native flowering plants 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).

Hiking/biking:
There are four trail systems in the forest offering more than 30 miles of trails; Eastern Lake Trail, Longleaf Greenway Trail, Cassine Trail are south of U.S. Hwy. 98. The trail systems are popular with both hikers and mountain bicyclists with the majority of the trail systems offering flat, sandy soil.

The McQuage Bayou Horse Trail is located north of Hwy. 98. Currently McQuage is under restoration and will be reopened as a multi use trail in the summer of 2017 offering two 4-mile trails.

The Eastern Lake Trail System was the first trail established on the forest. This trail system consists of three double-track loop trails. The hiker or bicyclist can travel the 3.5-, 5- or 10-mile loop. The Eastern Lake Bike/Hike Trail is included in the Florida Forest Service’s Trailwalker Hiking Program. The trail system can be accessed at the parking lot and trailhead on County Road 395.

Hikers note: Point Washington State Forest is part of the Point Washington Wildlife Management Area. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulates the hunting seasons in the forest. Visit MyFWC.com/hunting for information.

During hunting season be sure to wear bright colored clothing when hiking.

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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

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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Explore the Creek Trail in Santa Rosa Beach

Local residents Susan Paladini and Caroling Geary enjoy a morning walk on the Creek Trail. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

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

A pitcher plant bog is one of the many features of the Native Plant Demonstration Garden and Trail. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

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

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Season brings colorful display to the Point Washington State Forest

Goldenaster (Chrysopsis sabrella) can be found in colorful abundance in the Point Washington State Forest. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

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

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Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Topsail Hill Preserve dunes. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

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

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Eden Gardens State Park

Eden Gardens State park

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.

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Grayton Beach State Park

scubs

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

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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

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Camp Helen State Park

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

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

 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

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