North Walton County hiking trails

Explore the trail along Bruce Creek in North Walton County

Bruce Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Hiking this beautiful creek is 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 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 and pines 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. Click here to continue


Creek side natural beauty awaits the explorer on the Florida Trail in Bruce

The Nokuse Plantation portion the Florida Trail offers upland, wetland and freshwater natural habitats along the Lafayette Creek and Big Head Branch creek in Walton County. Whether you chose a short two-hour hike or an overnight backpacking journey, this trail offers a scenic experience that is sure to please.

This section of the Florida Scenic Trail stretches more than 19 miles from SR81 to U.S. Hwy. 331 in Freeport with three trailheads: SR81 between Bruce and Red Bay, J.W. Hollington Road in Freeport and U.S. Hwy 331 in Freeport.

If you chose a short, 2-3 hour hike, the SR81 trailhead near Seven Runs Creek, provides a shady, moderate hike along the Big Head Branch creek.

This undisturbed pristine area is adjacent to a planted pine forest along an easement provided by Nokuse Plantation. Nokuse Plantation is a privately owned preservation and restoration area connecting conservation lands of Eglin Reservation, Lafayette Wildlife Management Area and the Choctawhatchee Wildlife Management Area. Click to continue


Explore Lakewood Park: Florida highest point

An easy stroll through the woods at Lakewood Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

At a whopping 345 ft. above sea level, there is no need for any mountain climbing gear to get to the top of Florida’s highest point. Lakewood Park in north Walton is the highest natural point in the State of Florida, and is also the lowest high point of any State in the U.S.

Located just east of Paxton, Lakewood Park is a small county park sporting picnic areas, a restroom and short hiking trails. The trails are an easy walk through a small hardwood forest of mostly even terrain. It offers three paths to choose from: .45 mile, .52 mile and .71 mile.

Known as Britton Hill to the locals, the namesake comes from a former lumber mill baron, William Henry Britton who developed the area in the early 1900s.

If you are exploring north Walton County, or headed to Florala, it is worth a stop.

Directions: Take U.S. Hwy 331 north. Turn east on Co. Hwy. 147E just south of Paxton. Turn left on N. Co. Hwy 285. The park is on the left. ::MAP::


Florida Trail Eglin East Trail

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

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 age 16 or older, except thru-hikers (see below), to have in their possession a valid Eglin Recreation Permit. An annual (Oct 1 to Sept 30) recreation permit cost $10 and can be purchased at the Eglin Natural Resources Branch, 107 Hwy 85 North, Niceville FL, 32578. (850) 882-4164. Permits may be purchased through the mail with a check or money order and a copy of a photo ID.

While on the trail, all hikers must also complete and carry the tear-off Hiker Registration Cards that are available at each trailhead kiosk they pass (US 331, Alaqua). All hikers are also required to carry positive proof of identification. All overnight campers, except for FT thru-hikers (see below), must also purchase a $10 Camping Permit which covers groups up to 10 for 5 days.
As an aid to thru-hikers (backpackers starting and ending their hikes 30 miles beyond Eglin’s boundaries), Eglin does not require thru-hikers to obtain a Recreation or Camping Permit. In lieu of these permits, thru-hikers must have in their possession an official letter from FTA confirming their status as a thru-hiker and listing approximate dates of travel within Eglin. Thru-hikers are also required to complete a Hiker Registration Card at each trailhead kiosk and have the bottom part in their possession while on Eglin AFB.

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