Explore a coastal dune lake with Walco Eco Tours

April 21, 2010

Murray Balkcom explains the flora on Western Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Learn about South Walton’s rare coastal dune lakes and dune ecosystems

Murray Balkcom, South Walton resident, Realtor and eco tour guide is a man of many facets and talents.

Raised on a farm in southwest Ga. near Lake Eufala, Ala., Murray has spent most of his life enjoying the outdoors.

Out of college, and working a 70 hrs. a week job, Murray had little time for recreational activities.

Deciding it was time for something different, Murray left the confines of the job, and ventured out to do some exploring and learning about life. Starting with the Outward Bound program, he took on mastering mountaineering, teamwork and survivalist skills; and quickly learned there were more things to life than just working.

Two years later, Murray decided to hike the Appalachian Trail starting in Springer Mountain, Ga.

Murray Balcolm talks about the dune ecosystem. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

“I figured out the importance of life – basic food, shelter, safety and love,” Murray said when sharing some of the challenges of learning survivalist skills and hiking the Trail.

After living a time in Asheville, NC. a friend invited Murray to come visit him in Panama City Beach.

“I didn’t like Panama City Beach, but as soon as ventured into South Walton, I instantly fell in love,” said Murray.

A South Walton resident since 2002, Murray has his feet planted solid in the ground, and spends much of his time exploring and learning about the eco systems and diversity of the area.

Now an expert on the flora and fauna of the rare local coastal dune lakes in South Walton, Murray enjoys sharing his knowledge through his eco tours.

Murray offers his kayak and YOLO stand up paddle board tours on Western lake and the coastal dune systems around Grayton Beach State Park. Customizing the tour to the client’s wishes, Murray will explain the plant life along the lake, paddle over to the park and walk the canopied scrub forest trail, or paddle to the lake’s outfall to the Gulf of Mexico.

Departing from the boathouse within WaterColor on Scenic Highway 30A, Walco Eco Tours offers 2-hour kayak tours/nature trips for $60/hr. adults and $30/hr. children under 10.

To schedule a guided kayak and nature tour with Murray, visit or call Old Florida Outfitters, located in WaterColor at 850.534.4343.  Or, after hours, contact Murray at WalcoEcoTours@yahoo.com or by phone at 850-830-2475.

For more information about Walco Eco Tours, go to: walcoecotours.com

    1. We took a tour with Murray last Saturday and after having lived here for 11 years this Halloween, I’m embarrassed to say I had no idea how amazing Western Lake is! Thanks for all the great information on native plants, animals, and history of the area. I would do it again in a heartbeat!!!

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