Take a First Day Hike at a Florida State Park on Jan 1

December 27, 2013 by Teresa Lischka

Walking on the beach can change your perspective. There's nothing better than being at the beach on the first day of a new year. First Day Hikes offered by Florida State Parks are a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family - or a solitary sojourn.

There are hundreds of First Day Hikes sponsored at state parks across the country on New Year's Day - but you'll find no better place than our state parks right here in and around South Walton!  

Grayton Beach State Park 10 a.m. -12 p.m.

Grayton Beach State Park invites the public to start the New Year with a little bit of fitness and learning about the flora and fauna of the park. Explore and learn about restoration of wet bog prairies and prescribed burns. Participants will meet at the ranger station at 10 a.m. for a 2-1/2 mile round trip Flatwood Trail hike. The degree of difficulty for the hike is moderate. Hikers are asked to wear/bring the following: hat, long pants, insect repellant, and closed toe shoes or hiking boots, bottled water. Sorry, no pets. Persons 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park 10 a.m. -12 p.m.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park invites you to come enjoy your local state park on the first day of the New Year. This three mile round trip hike along our Campbell Lake trail will feature many of the ecosystems that make Topsail unique and will visit a globally imperiled rare coastal dune lake. This is an easy hike along a paved road in which all ages can participate. Park at the Day Use parking area and meet at the benches at Tram Stop 1.  Be sure to bring water, sunscreen, camera, and/or binoculars. There will be restrooms and a water fountain at the halfway point.

St. Andrews State Park 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

St. Andrews State Park on the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon in Panama City is hosting hikes along the beach or wildlife viewing trails within the park. A special children's 0.5 miles beach hike along the Grand Lagoon is being offered from 11 a.m. to noon. The children's hike will be easy and ADA accessible with beach wheelchairs available by contacting the park to make a reservation. Families can also stay and enjoy a second hike on the Heron Pond and Gator Lake trails from noon to 3 p.m. The Heron Pond Trail winds through a number of plant communities where visitors may encounter wading birds and many small animals. The Gator Lake Trail and Overlook provide visitors with a beautiful vantage point for spotting alligators and a variety of waterfowl, wading birds, and other small animals. Each trail is approximately 0.5 miles in length, and moderate in difficulty.

Normal park fees apply at First Day Hikes.

Consider taking your first day hike at Camp Helen State Park, Eden Gardens State Park, Point Washington State Forest, Deer Lake State Park, or other nearby trails and places perfect for an adventure. 

Florida State Parks are beautiful preserved coastal lands awaiting your discovery. See all Florida State Parks in or near South Walton. Parks Guide includes photos, video and information for all local parks, state parks, county parks and beach accesses.

Northwest Florida is home to some of the most stunning natural settings on the planet. For any wilderness adventure be sure to wear comfortable shoes, take water with you and insect repellent, and always be mindful of wildlife whose habitat you’re exploring. Get out and explore real South Walton in 2014!


Teresa Lischka's picture

A Birmingham native, Teresa could never get enough of the beach so she moved to SoWal as soon as she could. She loves sharing all things SoWal with the world.

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