Celebrate the outdoors this Thanksgiving around Walton County

November 24, 2009

graytontrailAfter that big turkey dinner, walk it off with a hike or enjoy a bike ride

Being grateful this Thanksgiving takes on many meanings for folks as we pause on this day to give thanks for the most cherished things in our lives – our health, family and friends.

In addition to these important things to be grateful for, getting outdoors and taking a walk on many of the wonderful trails in Walton County and the surrounding area provides an appreciation of our natural resources as well.

So, get outside, take a walk or a bike and ponder Mother Nature this Thanksgiving!

Here is a list of some of Walton Outdoors’ favorite places to explore:

Florida Trail Nokuse Lafayette Creek

floridatrailssecondlogo

    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

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.

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

Grayton Beach State Park

The north trail is located across the street from the Grayton Beach State Park entrance. Suited for bikes this trail is approx. 4 miles long.
The north trail is located across the street from the Grayton Beach State Park entrance. Suited for bikes this trail is approx. 4 miles long.

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 trail. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Grayton Beach State Park trail inside the park is suited for walking and offers a view of the canopied scrub oaks. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

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.

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

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.

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

For a larger list of trails in the Walton County area: Click here