Beach W hike track

Beach from W in Deer Lake State Park

Beach from W - Beachfront Trail

Deer Lake State Park Hikes 2016

Starting from the parking lot at the corner of Lakewood Drive and Beachfront Trail this is a 2-mile round-trip hike. Walk south two blocks to the Walton Dunes beach access. Take a left going east along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

State Park Boundard sign Past a few houses, see a park sign posted at the toe of the dune. It is like this one that is at the far (eastern) edge of the park. It says park rules in 62D-2 FAC (Florida Administrative Code) are enforced. Pets are not allowed on beach. Also, do not launch or land any kind of aircraft, including drones, in the park.

The outfall or inlet which I call the inoutfall opens and closes Deer Lake to and from the Gulf. When it is open, wade through the water. Make sure each footstep is on firm sand. If the flow is rushing near the Gulf, sometimes water is spread out more shallowly inland a ways. Look for truck tracks, where the turtle watchers or chair vendors go for the best places to cross. Watching the tea-colored lake water pile up in standing waves as it meets the aquamarine Gulf waters fascinates me. Sometimes tiny fish battle the currents.

A least tern colony (shorebirds) has nested in the dune field east of the inoutfall for the past two summers. This beach is monitored by Audubon, FWC, DEP and park personel. They band endangered snowy plovers and count birds. In 2016 there were three successful sea turtle nests in the park. South Walton Turtle Watch volunteers walk the beach at dawn every morning between June and November to make sure any new nests can be moved to safety before daybreak. They also check each nest for predation or hatching.

If you walk after dark get a red filter for a flashlight to avoid disturbing wildlife and your own night vision. Keep the beach clean, flat and dark.

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