Hiking Trails in 30A, Panama City Beach, Perdido Key, and Gulf Shores ~ Southern Vacation Rentals
Spring is right around the corner, and we can definitely sense it here on the Gulf Coast. Daylight Savings Time made itself known yesterday with longer days and now that the weather is warmer, we can’t wait for winter to say its goodbyes until December. Now that the weather is becoming enjoyable, it’s time to get outdoors again! So many of our areas have exciting nature trails and state parks for you to explore. Whether you want to explore the hiking trails on 30A or state parks in Perdido Key, the options await! Check out some of our favorite spots to experience the great outdoors below. Not to mention, National Plant a Flower Day is tomorrow, March 12th. Do your part to continue the beauty of our areas by picking up a small packet of seeds at your local nursery and get to planting!
Panama City Beach
St. Andrew’s Park in Panama City Beach serves as the gateway for a myriad of great hiking trails. It encompasses 1,200 acres of perfectly preserved forests and sand dunes, along with miles of beaches. Here you can swim, snorkel, and even fish! Surfers also love St. Andrew’s Park for the big waves that crash near the jetty.
For a great view to accompany your hike, lace up your shoes and head to Gator Lake Trail. This half-mile trail takes you across St. Andrew Park’s highest point, with some rugged climbs for the experienced hiker. You’ll even be able to hear the nearby surf as you hike across the hand!
Meanwhile, experience one of the world’s largest coastal dune lakes when you visit Powell Lake at Camp Helen State Park. The dune lakes are only found on the coasts of Australia and Africa, but some are also found between Panama City Beach and Destin! At Camp Helen State Park, discover prime beach access and trails that take you through dunes and scrub oak forests. The park is open from 8 AM until sunset seven days a week, wish leashed pets welcome except for on the beach.
Cyclists looking for a great place to explore, be sure to pay a visit to Gayle’s Trails at Frank Brown Park. Two of the three routes are located along forested corridors between trailheads. A round trip totals out to 19.5 miles! You will certainly get a good workout as well as enjoy some incredible views when you visit here.
Did you know over 40% of Walton County’s total acreage is dedicated to preservation? Because of this, hikers and cyclists can explore the natural beauty of the area which includes rare coastal dune lakes and some of the nation’s most endangered bird species. One of the area’s most popular spots is Point Washington State Forest, which consists of 10 natural communities and three trail systems. It even has a horse trail! Hikers or cyclists can explore the 3.5, 5, or 10-mile loops offered on the trail at the Eastern Lake Trail System.
Additionally, the Watersound Trail is located not far away, connecting Walton County from the Watersound Origins Community. Hikers looking for a leisurely stroll or quiet bike ride through lush green scenery will love the Watersound Trail. The trail only runs five miles, allowing you to immerse yourself in the surrounding beauty. As an added bonus, leashed pets are allowed.
Grayton Beach State Park is a popular spot for visitors and locals alike. If you haven’t explored these, then you are missing out! The area is home to another rare coastal dune lake steps away from the beach. At Grayton Beach State Park, you can experience a variety of fun including bird-watching, camping, and fishing. There is also a trail system that stretches only 0.8 miles long, but also has a 4-mile linear hiking and biking trail through the park.
Then, over in Perdido Key, you’ll find the Johnson Beach Discovery Nature Trail. Taking you through dunes, pine trees, and salt marshes over a winding, raised boardwalk, the trail is only half a mile long. You also get a beautiful view of Grand Lagoon! Young kids will love exploring here, as they’ll get the chance to see local wildlife.
The area is also home to Big Lagoon State Park, where saltwater tidal marshes and pine flatwoods await you. Not only can you swim, fish, and camp here, but if you’re an adventure traveler, you can begin a 1,515-mile sea kayaking journey on the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail! Wow! There are lots of other fun ways to have a great time at Big Lagoon State Park, including geocaching and use of the amphitheater.
If you’re looking to really immerse yourself in nature, then Gulf Shores is the place for you. Coastal Alabama is home to some of the most beautiful nature trails on the coast, all waiting for you to discover them. The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail will take you through nine separate ecosystems over 27 miles within the boundaries of Gulf State Park. It also connects you from Gulf Shores to Orange Beach. Here, you can simply stroll across the raised boardwalk or even bike, jog, or just enjoy viewing the wildlife.
Additionally, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is home to some of Alabama’s last-remaining undisturbed coastal habitats. Established in 1980, it protects migratory songbird habitats as well as threatened and endangered species. Groups or individuals can hike across any of the four trails, all of varying lengths, and take in the beauty of the area. All of the trails are open year-round during daylight hours.
For unobstructed views of the natural wetlands and waterways found in Gulf Shores, make your way to the Wade Ward Nature Park. The wetlands and waterways connect Little Lagoon and Lake Shelby and are home to otters, pelicans, and even the occasional alligator. Don’t worry though; you can observe all of this from the safety of a raised boardwalk. This is also part of the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail sites, where migrating and local birds come to rest.