Trails of 30A | Explore by Foot, Bike or Horse

Explore the Trails of 30A

by Murray Balkcom

Sure, you can jump on a beach cruiser and hit the paved bike path which runs the length of scenic hwy 30A, crossing several of our rare coastal dune lakes. That is great way to get out and explore. However, miles and miles of running/walking and bike trails wind throughout our State Forest in South Walton, waiting to be explored as you escape the forthcoming crowds of beach visitors. Word on the trail is that there are some extremely rare and endangered species of plants scattered about the Forest, so please, please, please, stay on the beaten path. Part of Leave No Trace includes staying on the trail. There’s nothing like turning off the iphone, music player, radio (does anyone still use a radio?) and enjoying the sounds of nature when running through the woods. Find a trail head, learn about the trail, and start exploring another side of the trails of 30A.

Point Washington State Forest has 10 natural communities that can be found throughout the forest. The majority of the area consists of sandhill, basin swamps/Titi drains, wet flatwoods, wet prairie and cypress swamps. Although much of Point Washington State Forest has been cut over, there are some excellent examples of intact sandhill ecosystems.

The Trails of 30A are home to several plants and animals that are listed as threatened, endangered or species of special concern. Some of these rare species include: American kestrel (Falco sparverius), gopher tortoise, flatwoods salamander, white-topped pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla) and the world’s largest population of Curtiss sandgrass (Calamovilfa curtissii).

An important management tool used on the Point Washington State Forest is the prescribed burning program. The use of controlled fire in managing timber, wildlife and ecological resources on Point Washington State Forest is necessary for the Florida Forest Service to fulfill its goal of protecting and managing Florida’s forest resources. Objectives of the prescribed burning program include reducing fuel loads (undergrowth), diminishing hazardous conditions, and maintaining biodiversity.

Did you know that South Walton also has horse trails, with a staging station and corral located on Hwy 283 north (Bay Drive)?

To see the most along your way, I challenge you to try slowing down and go as slow as you can go. When we are still in the woods, everything comes out of hiding to say hello.

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