Enjoy a hike along Bruce Creek in Walton County

October 19, 2011

Bruce Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Hiking this beautiful creek an easy trek

A great way to explore the Choctawhatchee River basin is taking a hike along Bruce Creek in Northeast Walton County. Located off of State Road 81 south of Ponce De Leon, this shallow creek runs west to east through the center of the county and eventually empties into the Choctawhatchee River.

The trail is not maintained, however mostly clear and fairly easily to navigate. This area within the river basin is accessible when water levels are normal to low. If the water levels are up, the creek offers any opportunity for a pleasant kayak or canoe paddle.

Locals Susan Petro and Joan Vienot enjoy a hike along the Bruce Creek trail. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

A high canopy of hardwoods provide pleasant shade for most of the journey through the swamp forest. Large oaks, magnolias, red maple, hickory, black gum, tupelo and cypress tower above; fetterbush and hollies abound below the tall giants. The wetlands slope gently towards the river, boasting an abundance of saw palmetto, lichen, fungi, and moss.

The Bruce Creek trail is far off the main road offering a quiet, undisturbed journey in nature. About a mile along the trail the path becomes uncertain, however it is easy to keep your bearings if you hike creek side.

You never know what you may see along Bruce Creek. The area is abundant with wildlife viewing opportunities. Ducks, otters, turtles, snakes, white tailed deer, feral hogs are all common inhabitants of this diverse area.

The Bruce Creek area land east of State Hwy. 81 is owned by Northwest Florida Water Management District. The District has purchased over 57,000 acres, or 85 percent of the floodplain on the Choctawhatchee River to prevent further declines in water quality, preserve natural systems and reduce impacts following 13 major floods over the last century.

The area is also part of the Choctawhatchee River Wildlife Management area. Wearing an orange hunters vest while hiking during hunting season is highly recommended. Season runs from Oct. – early March.

Bruce Creek Park area has a boat ramp, picnic table and fire ring, however no other facilities. Turn east off of SR81 on to Louis Miller Road and follow the signs. ::MAP::