Posted on 12/30/2011
The Emerald Coast of Florida is becoming world renowned for its intrinsic natural beauty which includes not only the jewel toned waters and crystalline white sand beaches but also the beautiful lake filled forests that line the coast. Many of our Ocean Reef guests come here to take advantage of our little piece of paradise as Ecotourists. These hearty folk become one with nature by swimming, surfing or deep sea fishing in the sparkling Gulf, Stand Up Paddle boarding on the bay, hiking in the woods and kayaking on the forested lagoons. However one of the most popular pursuits lately is to go bicycling across the countryside. One of the most popular destinations for biking here is along a new bike trail that was completed in recent years along the beautiful coastal route known as Scenic 30A.
This Florida bike path is called The Timpoochee Trail which is named after a famous local Indian Chief from years gone by. It extends almost twenty miles from Emerald Coast Parkway and runs from Dune Allen at its western end all the way to Rosemary Beach towards the east. The entire path is paved wide enough to accommodate bikers in both directions and is separated from the roadway. This route along Scenic 30A in South Walton is one of the most beautiful you will ever find in Florida since it passes through gorgeous forests filled with towering pines, live oaks, scrub oaks, magnolias and palmetto palms that hug the pristine white sand dunes right down to the beach. Precious, exotic Coastal Dune Lakes dot the coast along this same route. These natural gems are located in only three other places in the entire world which include Madagascar, Australia and New Zealand. Their location along forested sand dunes that parallel the Gulf make them very special. Sometimes they open to the sea and at other times, depending upon nature's whims, they are closed. This creates an unusual blend of both salt and fresh water that supports a huge amount of flora and fauna. These lakes include Stallworth Lake, Oyster Lake, Draper Lake, Big Redfish and Little Redfish Lakes, Alligator Lake, Western and Eastern Lakes and Deer Lake. At Stallworth Lake you can make a stop to hike along the beach at Topsail State Park where dunes rise up from the water up to thirty feet tall. Draper Lake as you approach the winding hills of Blue Mountain Beach is particularly lovely and even has a covered bridge over part of the bike trail. The scenery is quite breath taking at Western Lake where the aptly named town of Watercolor is located. An isthmus crosses the lake here with views of the forest towards the north and white beach sand dunes across the water towards the south. Grayton Beach State Park is right on the beach with dazzling natural vistas. At Deer Lake there is another state park where you can take an elevated wooden walkway through the forest and across the dunes to take a refreshing dip in the Gulf.
Besides this sensational scenery, the 30A bike path also goes through picture perfect, preplanned villages along the way. Running west to east these communities include Dune Allen, Santa Rosa Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, Watercolor, Seaside, Seagrove Beach, Watersound, Alys Beach, Seacrest and Rosemary Beach at the end. These picturesque villages provide a unique kind of rest stop oasis for your travels since there are lots of restaurants, cafes, outdoor bars, boutiques, art galleries and specialty shops to explore. Each community has its own unique personality and architecture.
Along with the charming sand hill communities on the coast, bikers will also encounter a lot of wild life along the way. Don't be surprised to spot White Tailed Deer, Gopher Tortoises, Red headed Woodpeckers, Falcons, Eagles, White Egrets, Great Blue Herons and wild Mallard Ducks en route. Along the beaches and out in the Gulf you may see squadrons of Brown Pelicans diving for fish as well as dolphins frolicking at play.
This Florida Bike Trail has three paved trails that connect to Emerald Coast Parkway to the north at three access points. The first of these occurs at Dune Allen where Allen Loop Drive wraps around Oyster Lake and connects with Thompson Road which leads you towards the highway. The two other access points are located at County Road 283 in Grayton Beach and County Road 395 at Seagrove Beach. The Scenic 30A Bike Trail also borders literally thousands of acres of the extensive Point Washington State Forest complete with inland lakes, ponds and marshlands. Here another adjoining trail system goes throughout the forest. These trails are largely unpaved but do provide gravel or hard sand paths in three double track loops where hearty bikers or hikers can choose their own routes which are mapped at the entry. At the present time these paths cover three and one half, five and ten mile loops. An expansion is underway to create a "green way" trail system that will eventually cover over twenty-seven miles throughout the forest for recreational use. Access to the entire Point Washington State Forest trail system is off County Road 395, just north of the Scenic 30A where it connects at the Watercolor and Seagrove Beach intersection.
If you don't bring your own bike down with you, Ocean Reef recommends Big Fish Bike Rentals in Seagrove Beach. They provide beach cruisers, kid bikes and trailers. Bike rentals there are $20 for one day, $25 for two, $35 for three and only $45 for five days. You can rent a bike for a whole week for $55 which is only $7.85 per day. Bike rentals also include your helmet and bike locks free of charge and a ten percent discount is available if you reserve your bike ten days in advance of use. Big Fish Bike Rentals can be reached at 850.231.1343.
If you make it down to Seacrest be sure to stop in at our Ocean Reef office there and have a soda on us. We love to provide hospitality to our guests and of course have a multitude of distinctive private vacation rental homes and luxury condominiums available all along Scenic 30A. Happy trails to you!