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 worldwide to its white sand beaches and dunes, emerald waters and rare coastal dune lakes. It claims the highest point in Florida at 345 feet - the lowest high point of any state. One of the most biodiverse areas on the continent, more than 40 percent of its 26-mile coast is in preserves and parks.
The county proudly showcases 15 coastal dune lakes found in only a few other places in the world - Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand and Oregon. These rare, fragile lakes were formed by wind 2,000 to 10,000 years ago. Each lake is unique, varying from fresh to salty depending on its source of water - a stream, groundwater, rain or saltwater. These shallow (5-feet-deep) lakes are separated from the gulf by dunes up to 30 feet high, but connect intermittently with gulf waters.
Three state parks on the gulf have coastal dune lakes. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park features Morris, Campbell and Stallworth lakes that span 196 acres. Western, Alligator and Little Redfish lakes in Grayton Beach State Park cover more than 200 acres. Deer and Camp Creek lakes spread over 53 acres fed by blackwater streams in day-use-only Deer Lake State Park. These parks have miles of secluded, pristine beaches, up to 25-foot-high dunes, nature trails, and excellent fresh and saltwater fishing. Topsail and Grayton provide RV campsites and furnished cabins.
The Beaches of South Walton are 16 diverse beach communities dotted along the county coastline between dune lakes and state parks. These communities have historical and cultural festivals, art galleries, shopping, fine-to-casual dining, vacation rentals, and water activities for visitors.
Springs and creeks feed the 27-mile-long Choctawhatchee Bay, an estuary that rims most this coast, rich with forested wetlands, patches of 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.
Eglin Air Force Base, the largest military installation in the country, spreads over a vast portion of Walton County. This huge conservation area and other conservation lands safeguard almost a quarter-million acres of land and more than 50 threatened animal species, including sea turtles and red-cockaded woodpeckers and more than 200,000 acres of longleaf pine.
February 10, 2020 - 1:04pm
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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.