Guests enjoy residing at one of our wonderful distinctive vacation rentals either right on the beautiful white sand beach or very close by. Time here provides a relaxing respite away from the rigors of everyday work and responsibilities back home. Sometimes as they say, “you just need to get away from it all.” Of course, there are many avenues you may explore for relaxation including time at the beach, swimming in the jeweled waters of the glittering gulf, golfing, fishing, boating, eating great food and sipping on favorite tropical drinks. However another way of “getting away from it all” can include a day trip to one of the Emerald Coast’s impressive state parks.
One of the biggest and best is the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park located just east of Miramar Beach right off South Walton's Scenic 30A near Dune Allen. It receives excellent ratings with rave reviews like “a gorgeous state park,” “One of America’s nicest beaches” and “a photographer paradise.” This massive 1,643 acre heavily forested property spans across from the Emerald Coast Parkway south of Sandestin all the way to Scenic 30A and down to the beach. Over three miles of protected sugary dunes rise up over twenty feet tall, which parallel the pure powdery white shore. This lovely location is so remote that many times you feel like you have the whole place to yourself for long serene walks along miles of beach, listening to the soothing surf, watching dolphin play in the distance and joining them for a swim.
The park is open every single day from 8:00 am till sunset and admission to the park is $6 per vehicle with convenient parking near the entry gate off Scenic 30A. If you arrive by bike, there is a $2 entry fee. A Beach Tram carries people to and from the beach every two hours starting at 9:00 am. Bathroom facilities are located at the tram parking lot and near the beach. You may also walk, hike or bike there which is about half a mile from the entry area. Sunbathing at the beach or swimming in the gorgeous gulf is just one of many things to experience at Topsail. You may also try your luck at salt or freshwater fishing. Two large forested lakes called Morris and Campbell include catches of Bass, Bream, Pan Fish, and Catfish. A 2.5-mile trail borders Morris Lake and a 5-mile trail meanders around Campbell. The forest itself is mostly towering old growth Loblolly Pine Trees with a smattering of Palmettos, Scrub Oaks and Magnolias. Along the 3.2 miles of secluded beach on the other side of the dunes, you may catch Pompano, Red Fish, Spanish or King Mackerel in the gulf.
You may go paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing on the lakes since rentals are available at the Park Store. They are available for $65 all day or $40 covering four hours. Personal watercraft are not allowed on the lakes because of the possibility of introducing destructive invasive plants into the water. Campbell and Morris are precious rare coastal dune lakes due to their exotic water mixture. They periodically are connected to the nearby gulf which creates an exquisite composition of salt and fresh water which support a wide array of wildlife. Such lakes are only found in Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, parts of the Pacific Northwest and here along the Emerald Coast.
Besides the trails around the lakes and some paved paths, Topsail has over thirteen miles of trails that meander about the park. You may spot White-Tailed Deer, Osprey, Great Blue Herons, Snowy White Egrets, Eastern Bluebirds, Red Cardinals, Red Shouldered Hawks, big rare Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers and even endangered Snowy Plovers. Pets are allowed at Topsail on all the inland trails but are not allowed on the beach and must always be on a leash. Besides the hiking trails, you may choose to bike it, and rentals are available for $20 per day. Besides swimming, fishing, hiking, biking and boating another fun pastime at Topsail is having a picnic. There are picnic tables scattered about the park, and three small covered pavilions are also available. Two of these are located on Campbell Lake and one is near the beach access overlooking the gorgeous gulf.
Rangers provide a free one hour tour of the park on Thursdays at 3:00 pm, which includes information about the land, special history, and wildlife. There are also regularly scheduled courses or events that range in cost from $5 to $40. These include breakfasts with the park rangers, basket weaving courses, and even a moonlit paddle event. Moonlight Paddle Trips when scheduled go from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. A $40 donation includes free park admission, a watercraft rental, a paddle, a glow stick and a tram ride to and from Campbell Lake. Information on this program and others may be found at topsailparkfriends.org
We hope you enjoy your next trip down to see us and know that you will have an unforgettable treasured getaway if you experience a day trip or even just a few hours at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Many of our Ocean Reef vacation rentals are minutes away from Topsail in Miramar Beach, Sandestin, and Dune Allen Beach. Have a great adventure!