Take A Hike!

walton parks

Trail Maps:

North Walton:
NokuseTrail
BayLoopTrail

South Walton:
TopsailHillStateParkTrail
PointWashingtonTrail
KelloggTrail
GreenwayTrail
GraytonBeachTrails
DeerLakeTrail

A look at the hiking, biking, riding and birding trails in the Walton County area

Walton County, Florida offers a number of trails available to the hiker, biker, birder and horse rider. Maintained and managed by several different agencies and properties, including the state’s Florida Trail, Division of Forestry, and the County, there are a diverse number to choose from depending on a trekker’s interests.

Here is a comprised list of the larger trails available in the area. Some of the maps complementing the information below has been provided by the respective agencies, and Walton Outdoors shares these maps as general guidelines.

The map above is a general location indicator with corresponding numbers to the areas listed below.

Florida Trail

1. Florida Trail Nokuse Lafayette Creek

floridatrailssecondlogo

The eastern end is on State Road 81 just north of Bruce in Freeport just south of the Seven Runs Creek Recreation area. The eastern end spans westward to U.S. Hwy 331 were it joins for the Florida Eglin East Trail.

Lafayette/Nokuse portion of Florida Trail. Illustration courtesy Florida Trail Assoc. Click to enlarge

Lafayette/Nokuse portion of Florida Trail. Illustration courtesy Florida Trail Assoc. Click to enlarge

This is a new trail section opened in October 2008. It runs along the border of the Nokuse Plantation. Trail lovers hiking Nokuse Plantation trail segment see unique steephead habitats, gopher tortoise relocation and restoration of longleaf pine.

Completion of this section of hiking trail closes a significant gap in the 1,400-mile Florida National Scenic Trail that winds along a wilderness corridor the length of Florida. Hikers can explore natural Florida and learn about the area’s biodiversity along the trail.
Length: 15.9 miles (linear) Click here for detailed map

For local information call (850) 682-6098 or http://choctaw.floridatrail.org

Lafayette and Eglin Florida Trails. Illustration courtesy Florida Trail Assoc. Click to enlarge

Lafayette and Eglin East Florida Trails. Illustration courtesy Florida Trail Assoc. Click to enlarge

2. Florida Trail Eglin East Trail
The eastern end of this section is on US 331 just north of Freeport. The western end is at the SR 285 trailhead, 2.0 miles south of Interstate 10.

Length: 32.9 miles (linear)
Hiking is on an active military reservation. Of special interest is Eglin’s role as a weapons development and testing facility. The rumbles in the distance are rarely thunder.

Alaqua section of Eglin Trail East. Illustration courtesy Florida Trail. Click to enlarge

Alaqua section of the Eglin East portion of the Florida trail. Illustration courtesy Florida Trail. Click to enlarge

Hikers on Eglin AFB are restricted to within 100 yards of the blazed FNST, side trails and designated campsites. Camping is authorized only at designated campsites and fires are restricted to fire rings in the campsites.

Eglin requires that all hikers have an Eglin Recreation Permit and complete a  Hiker Registration Card.  Al  trail users age 16 or older are required to have a current  Eglin Recreation Permit (Oct 1 – Sept 30) in  their possession. This permit costs $12. and can be purchased at the Eglin Natural Resources Branch, 107  Hwy 85  North, Niceville, FL 32578;  (850) 882-4164.

Click here for more detailed map

CREEK FORDS – The Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) route in the Alaqua and Blount Creek basin requires the fording of both streams.  There are no immediate plans to bridge either Alaqua or Blount Creeks.  Alaqua is the major drainage and should be avoided during periods of high water.  At flood stage, both streams can be dangerous to ford.  These fords should be avoided during flood stage or periods immediately after heavy rains.  Both creeks are subject to flash flooding and water levels can rise quickly.  Under normal conditions the water depth at the Alaqua Creek ford is two to three feet.  Hiker are not to attempt fording these creeks during periods of high water.

Alternative Route (High Water Route):  From the U.S. 331 Trailhead travel north on US Hwy 331 to Bob Sikes Road (north of I-10 near Walmart).  West on Bob Sikes Road to rejoin the FNST route at the Alaqua Trailhead.

Information courtesy Florida Trail Association, Inc.

Florida State Forests trails:

Point Washington State Forest Trail Map
Click here for detailed map

Point Washington State Forest Area consists of 8 separate trails within the forest area:

3. Point Washington State Forest Trail

Click here for 3.5 mile biking trail in Blue Mountain off of Scenic Hwy. 30A.

Click here for 2.16 mile biking trail in Grayton/Seagrove area off of Scenic Hwy. 30A.

Point Washington State Forest Longleaf Greenway and Eastern Lake Trail Click here for detailed map

McQuage horse trail. Illustration courtesy U.S. Forestry. Click to enlarge.

• Mcquage Bayou Horse Trail

• The Eastern Lake Trail
Off-road cyclists and hikers may access the Eastern Lake trail from the parking lot and trailhead at County Road 395, a mile south of US Highway 98,

• Deer Lake Trail

• Grayton/Seagrove Trail

• Cassine Trail

Gulfview Heights Trail. Image courtesy Beachtobay.org. Click to enlarge

Gulfview Heights Trail. Image courtesy Beachtobay.org. Click to enlarge

• Gulfivew Heights Trail

• Blue Mountain Trail

• Butler Elementary School Trail

Point Washington Forest trail area. Illustration courtesy U.S. Forestry. Click to enlarge

Point Washington Forest trail area northern portion enlarged. Illustration courtesy U.S. Forestry. Click to enlarge

Point Washington State Forest was purchased under Florida’s Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) Program in 1992. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry was given lead management responsibility for the Point Washington State Forest. Using an ecosystem management approach, the Division of Forestry provides for multiple uses of the forest resources which include timber management, wildlife management, outdoor recreation and ecological restoration.

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 in the area.

 

Eastern Lake/Cassine trail map. Image courtesy Beachtobay.org

Location: Point Washington State Forest is located in South Walton County off of U.S. Hwy. 98. Vehicular travel is allowed throughout the forest on the open forest roads.

Natural Features: The majority of the area consists of sandhill, basin swamps/Titi drains, wet flatwoods, wet prairie and cypress swamps. Although much of Point Washington State Forest has been cut over, there are some excellent examples of intact sandhill ecosystems.

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).

No overnight camping is currently permitted on the forest. There is camping available at both the Grayton Beach State Park and the Topsail Hill State Preserve RV Park. These areas are located adjacent to the forest.

In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida’s forest resources, the Division of Forestry has developed rules which apply to all State Forest visitors. Find out more about state forest fees and rules.

For local information contact:
Division of Forestry
Point Washington State Forest
5865 East U.S. Hwy 98
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Telephone: 850/ 267-8325 or
Email Point Washington State Forest: vanderj@doacs.state.fl.us

30A bike path. Click to enlarge

30A bike path. Click to enlarge. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

4. 30A Timpoochee Bike/Hike map

The 19-mile Timpoochee trail spans along County Road C30A along the beaches of South Walton from Beach Highlands to Inlet Beach. The bike trail takes riders over several of the unique coastal dune lakes and communities. Click here for detailed map

5. The Greenway Trail

Greenway trail at Government Center.

Greenway trail at Government Annex.

The Greenway Trail is located adjacent to the Coastal Branch Library and Government Annex in South Walton off of U.S. Hwy 331 near U.S. Hwy. 98. The entire trail includes 875 linear feet of timber bridges and approximately one mile of asphalt paths. Click here for detailed map

6. Freeport Regional Sports Complex

Freeport Regional Sports Complex is located off State Road 20 in Freeport, entrance on CR 83A.

Freeport Regional Sports Complex path. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Freeport Regional Sports Complex path. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Baseball/softball fields, football/soccer fields, tennis courts, sand volleyball court, basketball courts, shuffleboard courts, playground, barbecue/picnic areas, playground, restroom, walking trail.

State Parks in the Walton county area

Eden Gardens State Park map. Illustration courtesy DEP. Click to enlarge

Eden Gardens State Park map. Illustration courtesy DEP. Click to enlarge

7. Eden Gardens State Park
The focal point of this park is a beautifully renovated, two-story house with elegant white columns and wrap-around porch. Surrounded by moss-draped live oaks and ornamental gardens, the Wesley house inspires visions of hoop skirts and landed gentry. The park is part of the estate owned in the 1800s by the Wesleys, a wealthy Florida timber family. In 1963, Lois Maxon bought and renovated the home, creating a showplace for her family heirlooms and antiques. The collection of Louis XVI furniture is the second largest in the United States. Guided tours of the house are available hourly Thursday through Monday (including holidays). Visitors can enjoy the grounds, gardens, and picnic area daily from 8:00 a.m. to sunset.
There is a new trail which meanders through a wooded area and along the bayou.
Driving Directions: Eden Gardens State Park is located in Point Washington, off U.S. 98 on C.R. 395.

The entrance fees for Eden are: $3.00 per vehicle, $1.00 for bikes and pedestrians, $3.00 per adult house tour
$1.50 per Child house tour.
181 Eden Garden Road
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
Phone: 850-231-4214
www.floridastateparks.org/edengardens

8. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
This park offers a wide variety of natural resources including 3.2 miles of secluded, white sand beaches with majestic dunes over 25 feet tall. Three rare coastal dune lakes provide excellent freshwater fishing.

Topsail Hill dunes on the beach. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Topsail Hill dunes on the beach. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Visitors may bike, walk, or enjoy a quick ride to the beach on our timely tram service to swim, fish, sunbathe, or beachcomb. Gregory E. Moore RV resort features a swimming pool and shuffleboard courts. Furnished bungalows are available for weekly stays. A camp store offers a variety of camping items, as well as snacks and drinks. Located in Santa Rosa Beach on Route 30A, one mile off U.S. 98.

Contact the Florida Park Service Information Center for general inquiries.

Topsail Hill State Preserve. Illustration courtesy DEP. click to enlarge

Topsail Hill State Preserve. Illustration courtesy DEP. click to enlarge

7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
Phone: 850-267-0299
www.floridastateparks.org/topsailhill
Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. to sunset
Located in Santa Rosa Beach, the entrance is on the western end of CR 30A, just south of U.S. Highway 98.

Admission Fees – Honor $2.00 per vehicle (U.S. Hwy. 98 and CR 30-A)

Grayton Beach State Park trail. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Grayton Beach State Park trail. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

9. Grayton Beach State Park
Golden in the morning sun, silvered by moonlight, Grayton Beach has consistently been ranked among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. The beach provides an idyllic setting for swimming, sunbathing, and surf fishing. Visitors can paddle a canoe or kayak on scenic Western Lake to get a closer look at a salt marsh ecosystem. A boat ramp provides access to the lake’s brackish waters for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. A nature trail winds through a coastal forest where scrub oaks and magnolias, bent and twisted by salt winds, have an eerie “Middle Earth” look. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy over four miles of trails through pine flatwoods; the trail begins across from the park entrance on Highway 30-A. Options for overnight stays include modern cabins and a full-facility campground. Located near the town of Grayton Beach on County Road 30A, south of U.S. 98.
Grayton Beach State Park Trail – Click here for map

Grayton Beach State Park map. Illustration courtesy DEP. Click to enlarge.

Grayton Beach State Park map. Illustration courtesy DEP. Click to enlarge.

Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. to sunset
Driving Directions
Grayton Beach State Park is located South of U.S. 98 appoximately halfway between Panama City Beach and Destin. Take county road 283 south of U.S. 98, turn left at the stop sign on 30A (approximately 1/2 mile east of the intersection of C.R. 30A and C.R. 283 our entrance will be found on the right).

Admission Fee:

$5.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.$4.00 Single Occupant Vehicle. $2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

357 Main Park Road
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
Phone: 850-231-4210

CLICK HERE FOR STORY
www.floridastateparks.org/graytonbeach/

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

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

10. Camp Helen State Park
The park is bordered on three sides by the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell– one of the largest coastal dune lakes in Florida. Coastal dune lakes are extremely rare worldwide; in the United States they occur only along the Gulf Coast. Prehistoric middens and mounds indicate that humans lived in the area more than 4,000 years ago. From 1945 until 1987, Camp Helen was a company resort for employees of an Alabama textile mill and some of the buildings are now being restored. Natural areas range from coastal dunes and salt marshes along the Gulf to freshwater wetlands and sand pine scrub along the lake.

Camp Helen is a day use only park with neither overnight accommodations nor camping.

Activities include swimming, beach combing, nature study, hiking, and both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Located west of Panama City Beach just inside Bay County, on U.S. 98 at the west end of the Lake Powell bridge.

Camp Helen State Park. Illustration courtesy DEP. Click to enlarge

Camp Helen State Park. Illustration courtesy DEP. Click to enlarge

Hours of Operation: Florida state parks are open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year.
Driving Directions
Camp Helen is located at 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, FL, just west of the Phillips Inlet bridge on the Bay County and Walton county line. The entrance is South of U.S. Hwy 98 and approximately 3 miles east of the Walton County line.
23937 Panama City Beach Parkway
Panama City Beach, Florida 32413
Phone: 850–233–5059

Click here for story on Camp Helen State Park

Park Fees: There is an honor entrance station. The fee is $3.00 per vehicle and $2.00 per bicyclist or pedestrian.

11. Deer Lake State Park Trail

Deer Lake/Camp Creek Trail. Illustration courtesy Beachtobay.org

Deer Lake/Camp Creek Trail. Illustration courtesy Beachtobay.org

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 dunes and vast 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. For more information about Deer Lake State Park Click here. Just northeast of the park across Scenic Highway 30A is the Deer Lake/Camp Creek trail that winds through State Park and Point Washing Forest. There are several trail options to hike, one which winds eastward to Camp Creek Lake.

Birding in the Walton area

birdingThe Panhandle Section of the Great Florida Birding trail opened in May 2004 and consists of 78 sites in 16 counties. The trail runs through Walton County area via Camp Helen State Park, Point Washington State Forest, Grayton Beach State Park, and Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.

Each of the sites in the Panhandle Guide (see link below) was chosen for its bird-watching characteristics, accessibility and ability to withstand birder use.

pdfPanhandle birding brochure
For more information about the Great Florida Birding Trail go to: http://floridabirdingtrail.com/

The local area birding group is the Choctawhatchee Audubon Society. The CAS hosts a number of outings each year, including birdwalks, field trips and migratory bird counts.
For more information about CAS go to:
http://www.choctawhatcheeaudubon.org/

This entry was posted in Biking, Birding, Eco adventure, Fishing, Nature, Outdoor Family Fun, Parks, Trails/Hiking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Take A Hike!

  1. Robert Penhollow says:

    This is great. What about the trails at Hammock Bay and Morrison Springs? Are there any others north of the bay? Bob

  2. Love this comprehensive article. All morning I’ve been looking for a map of the Nokuse Layfayette portion of the Florida trail. You have a tiny version that when clicked pops up a tiny version. I can’t find a full sized one at any of the Florida Trail Association websites. Am I missing something or do they only provide full-sized maps as hardcopy printed versions? Here’s a shortcut to Google map of 5/29/2009 hike (2.6 miles roundtrip):
    http://tinyurl.com/mzxxa2

  3. Pingback: best spots for bird watching? - SoWal Beaches Forum