A closer look at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

February 7, 2011

Mother Nature has sculpted beautiful sand dunes at Topsail Hill State Preserve. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The crown jewel of the Florida Panhandle offers miles of beautiful beaches

Topsail Hill State Preserve must be seen to be appreciated. It is one of the most diverse natural eco-systems in the state, featuring wet prairies, scrub, pine flatwoods, marshes and cypress domes.

The park has more than three miles of pristine beaches and five dune lakes which encompass more than 170 acres on more than 1,637 acres of park.

Now known as the “Crown jewel of the Panhandle,” the park has RV accommodations, with 156 sites and 16 rental cabins, and continues to be one of the most popular in the state. Booking is often solid for 11 months ahead.

New renovations to the park will include a new ranger station, 16 additional rental cabins, 22 more campsites, a new tram path, and a bike path around the coastal dune lakes.

Three miles of pristine beach to explore at Topsail. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

A tram shuttle to the beach is offered to visitors from the day-use parking area. Visitors can also hike or bike on the shared use trail.

The park has a small amphitheater that hosts many of the programs that feature interpretive talks about fauna and flora. The amphitheater was built with the help of a citizen’s support group “The Friends of Topsail.”

Imprints from the past
Evidence from midden mounds (discarded debris from Native American communities) and a large mound adjacent to the park, indicate that Native Americans used the area for fishing, hunting and camping.
From the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, workers from the Quarters Turpentine Village turpentined old-growth longleaf pines in forests now part of Topsail Hill. Scars can still be seen on many living trees in the park.

During World War II, the western portion of the preserve was used as a munitions testing range for developing the first missiles in the United States. Iron and rebar tracks were laid down to allow trucks to travel across the soft sand. Visitors can still see these tracks, especially along the hiking trail south of Morris Lake.

Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. to sunset. Kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards are available for rent.

Click here for an interactive map by Topsail visitor Jodie Burns.

Driving Directions

Located in Santa Rosa Beach, the park is located 1/4 south of U.S. Hwy 98 on western end of Scenic Hwy. 30A.  ::MAP:
Park Fees
Admission Fees –  $6.00 per vehicle (up to 8 people) – Scenic Hwy. 30A just north of U.S. Hwy. 98
Pedestrians, Bicyclists, Passengers in vehicles with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Permit – Admission Fee $2.00
Bungalow – All Year, minimum one week rental

Bungalows are located within Gregory E. Moore RV campgrounds near the tram stop and are available for weekly or monthly rental. Each bungalow is fully furnished and equipped with all appliances, cable TV, and linens. One-bedroom bungalows have additional sleeping of a fold out couch. Each bungalow has a carport, full kitchen, bathroom, living room and utility room.

For camping or cabin reservations click here. For Information about Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, please call 850-267-8330.  For more info, go to their website at: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Topsail-Hill

    1. I am saddended to know that access from Hwy. 98 is no longer available. Seems the park is doomed to become a commercial RV park. I have been going there since 1988, loved the quiet and remoteness , now all I see are campers!!!! Also, the bike path stops at Topsail Road, no access to 30A entrance.

    1. You can hike into the preserve side easily enough from the main day-use entrance.

    1. As it was told to me: Topsail Road is closed because the biologists have determined that the road into the preserve is interfering with the flow of surface water in the wetland system. They are in the process of removing the road to restore the integrity of the ecosystem in the preserve. To the best of my knowledge the preserve is not closed to paying visitors, who are more than welcome to hike in from the day use area at the main entrance. There are lots of nice trails in the middle of the park between the preserve and the RV campground. Also keep in mind that the preserve is a PRESERVE so the way it is administered is going to be different than the rest of the park i.e. preserve the ecosystems with more priority than ease of visitor access.

    1. This article is so good, i shared this one via facebook with my friends.

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