Choctawhatchee Bay, Grassy Cove, Basin Bayou, Bunker Cove, Jolly Bay, Alaqua Bayou
Rivers & Paddling Trails
Choctawhatchee River, Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
Walton County attracts visitors as a place to relax, unwind and rejuvenate. From the turquoise waters, up the white sand dunes, and to the north which contains the highest point in Florida, Walton County is known for its diversity and preserves.
Home to Florida’s 15 coastal dune lakes, a rare phenomenon that can only been seen in 4 other places in the world – Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, and Oregon. These shallow lakes are estimated to have been formed between 2,000 and 10,000 years ago. Created when sand is redistributed by wind, they’re now separated by large sand dunes that are up to 30 feet tall but connect and exchange water intermittently with the Gulf of Mexico through an outlet.
Three state parks now retain some these unique lakes - Topsail Hill Preserve state park, Grayton Beach state park, and Deer Lake state park. Including miles of pristine coastline, large sand dunes, nature trails, and excellent fishing, these state parks preserve ecosystems that are home to 13 imperiled species, which include the Choctawhatchee beach mouse and rare carnivorous pitcher plants.
In the northern end of Walton County, sits the highest point in Florida. At 345 feet, Lakewood Park is home to the lowest-high point out of any states. While you won’t need any mountaineering gear to get to the monument, do bring some hiking shoes and explore the nature trails surrounding this area for a different side of Florida.
The Choctawhatchee Bay covers approximately 129 square miles within Okaloosa and Walton counties. With the coastline riming this estuary, you can find forested wetlands, oyster beds, endangered Okaloosa darters, bony-plated Gulf sturgeon, alligator, gar, rare snails, reptiles and amphibians. The huge bay along with the Choctawhatchee River, Intracoastal Waterway and Gulf of Mexico offer excellent grouper, trout and snapper fishing.
Overlooking Choctawhatchee Bay, Eden Gardens State Park offers a glimpse into the area's past of lumbering, turpentine production, agriculture and fishing. Its special attraction, Wesley Mansion, once a lumber baron's antebellum home, is surrounded by camellias, azaleas and butterfly gardens.
The white sand beaches of South Walton are scattered with 16 smaller beach communities all of which have their own tasteful flare. Partake in their rich histories, unique art galleries, adventurous water activities, and award-winning cuisine, you can find something for everyone here.
September 20, 2023 - 3:15pm
Interested in subscribing to DEP newsletters or receiving DEP updates through email?
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.