While 30A boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the Florida, let alone the US, it’s also home to the most captivating and rare coastal dune lake systems in the world. The series of coastal dune lakes that can be accessed along scenic route 30A, are central to the delicate ecosystem that defines the natural beauty surrounding the region.
Discover the rare coastal dune lakes along scenic route 30A, learn why these captivating dunes define the delicate ecosystem of this region.
While 30A boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the Florida, let alone the US, it’s also home to the most captivating and rare coastal dune lake systems in the world. The series of coastal dune lakes that can be accessed along scenic route 30A, are central to the delicate ecosystem that defines the natural beauty surrounding the region. Here’s why…
The sand dunes of Florida are unique in their formation. They’re made of millions of tiny particles of quartz that have been broken down from rocks originating in the Appalachian Mountains. These sand particles are small enough to be lifted by wind, but big enough that they don’t stay airborne for long. As a result, over time they pile up to form hills and create intriguing patterns that form on the surface of the sand.
The coastal dunes system along 30A are also distinguished by their connection to a series of lakes. Lake waters push through the dunes system to form a river or channel that flushes a tea-colored fresh water out across the beachfront into the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, freshwater and saltwater can flow in both directions creating interesting geological features not found elsewhere. The high salt levels can accommodate alligators, as well as salt-water species of fish! And It’s a perfect habitat for woody plants such as palmetto, wax myrtle, sea spurts and beach morning glory as well as a haven for birds and other wildlife.
Coastal dunes also serve as natural storm barriers against hurricanes. Most of these coastal dune lakes are part of Florida’s State Park System that undertake the preservation and conservation of their most treasured natural phenomena, and are enjoyed by visitors year-round. Here’ a list of the coastal dune lakes not to miss on your 30A vacation.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Named after the gorgeous dunes that sail over the soft sandy beaches and the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, this park a must visit on your coastal dune check list. The park protects a line of freshwater lakes include Campbell Lake and Morris Lake, and is located in between Miramar and Santa Rosa Beaches.
Western Lake is widely considered one of 30As most scenic destinations. It’s a picture-perfect oasis nestled within Grayton Beach State Park. A shallow 214-acre lake, it’s sometimes referred to as a natural kiddie pool and is a big draw for young families, as well as for fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, swimming and wildlife-watching.
Also located in Grayton Beach, is Alligator Lake, a 12-acre lake that was restored from agricultural lands to wetlands and opened is 2020 with a recreational focus on picnicking, hiking and biking. Make sure to hike its Montgomery Trail, where you can experience the overgrown meadow and marshes that restored this lake to its natural habitat.
Lake Powell is the largest coastal dune lake in North America. At 800 acres, it surrounds the north and east sides of Camp Helen State Park, in Panama City Beach, and is a prime location for many activities including freshwater and salt water fishing, kayaking, hiking and more. Contact the Park about their guided kayak tours where you can learn more about what makes this dune lake system so unique.
Camp Creek Lake
Located in the Santa Rosa Beach at the southeastern edge of Deer Park State Park, Camp Creek Lake offers visitors the best of both freshwater and saltwater adventures. Pack a picnic, and meander along the neighborhood boardwalks offering majestic views of its towering sand dunes, and gorgeous views of the Gulf.
Deer Lake in Deer Lake State Park, also has a scenic boardwalk stretching over its lush sandscapes and pristine beach, and is a favorite of birdwatchers and strollers alike. You can hike its Blue Trail which will take you to a scenic overlook at the northern edge of the lake. It’s here where you can also spot rare plants such as the Gulf coast lupine, the spoonflower and the Curtiss’ sandgrass.
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