Santa Rosa County’s forested parks and quiet coastlines offer opportunities for secluded outdoor recreation. Navarre Beach occupies an approximate 4 mile stretch of Santa Rosa Island and showcases the 1,545-foot-long Navarre Beach Pier, treasured by experienced anglers, novice fishers, and those hoping to catch the sunset over the Gulf. In addition to swimming and surfing, beachgoers can snorkel and dive at multiple near shore artificial reefs.
East of Gulf Breeze lies the Naval Live Oaks Nature Preserve which offers 7.5 miles of hiking trails as part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Prior to its preservation status, the area was established as the first national tree farm in 1828 by President John Quincy Adams for the building of navy war ships from live oak trees.
Off the beach area the Yellow River Marsh Aquatic Preserve’s distance from development make it an area to enjoy canoeing, boating, and fishing along the forested wetlands, seagrass beds, and marshes while catching fresh and brackish water fish surrounded by nature.
Also a favorite of nature enthusiasts is Yellow River Preserve State Park on Garcon Point. This park is enveloped by Escambia Bay and Blackwater Bay, with nature trails enjoyed by both birders and photographers. This park is known especially for its carnivorous pitcher plant prairies.
Gulf Breeze, the only coastal city in Santa Rosa County, boasts a peaceful residential community on the west end of Fairpoint peninsula. Bridges connect Gulf Breeze to Pensacola city to the north and Pensacola Beach to the south, making the areas just a short distance away.
Lumber, timber, and Navy shipbuilding were foundational industries for the city of Milton situated inland on the Blackwater River. Though the need for wooden ships declined with the advent of metal warships, the Navy continues to remain a significant part of the Milton community due to the adjacent N.A.S. Whiting Field training facility for aviators. Present day Milton merges historic preservation with small town charm.
Blackwater River State Forest, one of the largest state forests in Florida at over 200,000 acres, encompasses a longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem. Blackwater River also has a rich cultural history as Creek Indian tribes established trading trails along the shifting sand bottom river. Popular activities in the Blackwater River State Park today include camping, canoeing, and kayaking.
September 20, 2023 - 3:15pm
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.