One thing Gulf County offers plenty of is places to don some decent shoes and head out for a hike. If you looking to commune with nature or enjoy a bit of exercise or enjoy some alone time, the county offers a host of options.
Great exercise, excellent scenery: what’s not to love.
Here are some suggestions:
1. T.H. Stone St. Joseph Peninsula State Park offers three different trail experiences: the Maritime Hammock Trail which winds through a coastal hammock environment to the shores of St. Joseph Bay; the mile-long Bay View Nature Trail which passes through maritime oak community, salt marsh, scrub and runs alongside the bay; and the Wildernesss Preserve Trail, a linear trail that runs seven miles through 1,750 acres of upspoiled coastal ecosystem and sand pine scrub (permit required at the Ranger Station).
2. The Port City Trail totals nearly four miles of paved pedestrian surface, approximately 10-feet wide in most places, good for hiking, jogging or biking. There are restrooms, informational signage along the route and water fountains at various points. A walk will take you past parks, lakes, ball fields and museum. The Port City Trail connects over to BayWalk Trail via a quarter-mile section of sidewalk along State 71.
3. The Loggerhead Run Bike Path is eight miles of trail that runs from St. Joseph Peninsula State Park to Salinas Park along State 30E/Cape San Blas Road. The trail is great for walking, jogging and biking and the scenery of the bay is hard to beat.
4. Dead Lakes Recreational Area is primarily a campground, the Dead Lakes Recreational Area is perfect for those hikers who double as nature enthusiasts. Trails throughout the site offer hikers views of local wildlife as well as plenty of flora including longleaf pines, magnolia, bald cypress and the White Tupelo tree, source of the world-famous Tupelo Honey, which grows along the wet banks of the Dead Lakes.
5. The St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve has some 14 miles of hiking trails across two parcels. At the Deal Tract off Cape San Blas Road, take a trail over an old dune ridge along the bay waterfront or take a shorter trail to an oak hammock. At the buffer off State 30A, take the self-guided interpretative trail that is begins on the opposite side of the road from the Preserve Center or take one of several trails, the Sandridge Loop or Island Loop Trail that begin at the main gate and traverse across the preserve from there. The preserve is home to more than two dozen rare or endangered species of flora, all on display on one or more of the trails.