NATURE TRAILS - STATE PARKS
Explore miles of scenic nature trails on winding paths through preserved state park forests picturesque gardens and around rare coastal dune lakes miles. The state parks along the South Walton coast preserve special treasures, not just beaches with emerald waves and sparkling sand, but rare coastal dune lakes with freshwater mere feet from the sea.
Explore the trail systems to find a coastal dune lake and its surrounding habitats. Together, these trails offer an excellent interpretive overview of these forests by the sea. Our clear, sparkling waters hold the key to great sports and activities, and while on land you’ll find you’ll never run out of things to do. Either way, you’ll enjoy the best of the great outdoors.
Deer Lake State Park - Northwest Florida
A pristine 2000-acre conservation area, Deer Lake is a great location for observing indigenous flora. The pathways lead through scrub, sand pine scrub and titi slough/transitional mesic-wet pine flatwoods. Some of the intriguing locals you might spot here are deer’s tongue/vanilla plant, beach rosemary, lupine, rusty lyonia and conradina. If the nature flora doesn’t attract you, the spectacular coastline surely will. This area has some of the most impressive dunes in the region. Open 8 a.m. until Sunset.
Approximately 1.5 miles from the Resort. (850) 231-0337
Grayton Beach State Recreation Area on the Gulf of Mexico
This recreation area borders WaterColor, with Western Lake as a natural connector. In 1994, the beach here was designated as the “Nation’s Best Beach” by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka “Dr. Beach,” who directs the University of Maryland’s Laboratory for Coastal Research and annually names the best beaches among 600 or so United States beaches (an honor that can’t be bestowed again until 10 years beyond the designation). The recognition is based on quality of sand, accessibility, natural beauty, water temperature, pristine nature trails, and a safe, uncrowded environment. A self-guided trail provides a wonderful hike around impressive 40’ sand dunes and through pine flatwoods and coastal scrub.
To get the most from your hike, be sure to ask for the trail guide available at the ranger station when you enter the area.
This State Recreation Area is just off Highway 30-A and opens daily from 8 a.m. until sundown. (850) 231-4210
Henderson Beach State Recreation Area
Henderson opened to the public in March 1991 as the first acquisition under Florida’s Save Our Coast Program. The 6,000 feet of shoreline and more than 200 acres of preserve are home to a variety of wildlife and native plants. An extensive boardwalk system makes for easy access while protecting the dunes and vegetation. Located in Destin at 17000 Emerald Coast Parkway, it is open from 8:00 a.m. until sunset.
Approximately 21.55 miles from the Resort. (850) 837-7550
Eden State Gardens
Once the 19th-century hub of Wesley Lumber Company’s sawmill complex, the garden is now a hub for community involvement. The extensive gardens that surround an antebellum residence are frequently the setting for special events. With its canopied live oaks dripping with Spanish moss and the colorful seasonal displays of azalea, camellias, hydrangeas and dogwood trees, the place is a visual balm. It is also a great place for picnics, with tables spread under the trees overlooking the bayou. Visitors to the gardens will want to consider timing their arrival to correspond with the House Tours offered Thursday through Monday on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are conducted by volunteer docents, and local volunteers also do much of the gardening here. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset, and you can get there by making your way to Highway 98 and then heading north on County Road 395.
Look for the signs. Approximately 4 miles from the Resort. (850) 231-4214
Camp Helen State Park
Located just to the east of Walton County, off Highway 98 in Bay County. A former vacation getaway for employees of Avondale Mills, the park currently provides a great spot for a day at the beach. To enter the area, park at the gate and walk through the impressive woodlands to the Gulf. The area is open from 8 a.m. until sunset.
Approximately 10 miles from the Resort. (850) 233-5059