A Delightful Journey to Grayton Beach State Park
Mother Nature shows off her best features at this gem of a park
Those that live in the Florida Panhandle are blessed with the diversity and natural beauty of our local State parks, and one of those beauties is Grayton Beach State Park.
Nestled on both the south and north of Scenic 30A, I had forgotten how lovely the park was, until I re-examined it again recently with my own personal tour guide, Patrick Hartsfield, Park Service Specialist.
Patrick has an enormous amount of enthusiasm for this 2,200-acre park, and its unspoiled natural magnificence. It is easy to concur, as the majority of the park is left untouched and full of diversity with sand dunes, scrub oaks, Western Lake’s salt marsh, multiple ecosystems, pine flatwoods and remarkable trails. This area is the perfect habitat for wildlife.
Grayton Beach State Park offers a wide variety of activities for the visitor. Along with the beautiful beaches, there are two unique trails to enjoy, along with camping and cabin rentals.
Take a walk along the trail nicknamed the “Hobbit Hole,” through the dunes where you find yourself enveloped in the scrub oaks and finding yourself becoming one with nature. Flowering spiderworts and blue lupine provide colorful highlights along the trail. Walk a bit further and you will be taken aback by a panoramic view once you reach the vista at the top of the dunes. This incredible view is quite famous, as it has been painted many times by local artists, and become the quintessential signature view of Scenic 30A.
Thanks to a local volunteer group, Friends of Grayton Beach interpretive signs are provided along the trail to better enhance and educate the hiker’s experience.
On the north side of 30A, you will find a 4.2-mile bike trail through the pine flatwoods. Along the trail you may discover endangered pitcher plants, snakes and lizards along with quiet places you can stop, sit and ponder the forest.
The second largest coastal dune lake in the Florida Panhandle, Western Lake, is the perfect location to paddle a kayak and explore the lake’s diverse eco-system. The lake and its outfall to the Gulf of Mexico provide the perfect feeding ground for birds.
On this particular day, there were blue herons, cattle egrets, royal terns, common terns and laughing gulls along the lake’s outfall.
There are also nesting least terns that have returned in the last couple of years, nesting in June and July. I hope folks shooting fireworks from the beach on the 4th of July will remember to point them toward the Gulf, as the return of these incredible birds is a special treat.
The park offers 35 campsites; with each one nestled in the scrub oaks. There are 22 more in the works in a renovation project that also includes a new ranger station and enhanced ADA accessibility and boardwalks.
On the west side of the park, there are 30 cabin duplexes each with 2 bedrooms 2 baths, along with screened in porches and barbecue grills.
The cabins offer guests a unique experience, with their own private entrance and acres of untouched wooded areas. I was treated to a doe posing for the camera, and more than a dozen towhees flying around the scrub oaks in a bevy of activity on the day I visited.
What a great day, enjoying once again, this stunningly beautiful park. I will be back soon, as I always know I can experience a great vacation getaway, or a walk in paradise just 10 minutes of my home!
Living in the Florida Panhandle has its rewards!
For more information about Grayton Beach State Park, call 850-231-4210.
Hours of Operation
8:00 a.m. to sunset
Grayton Beach State Park is located in Walton County, South of U.S. 98 off of Scenic Road 30A. Take county road 283 south from U.S. 98, turn left at the stop sign on 30A (approximately 1/4 mile east of the intersection of C.R. 30A and C.R. 283 the main entrance is on the right).