With more than 24 miles of trails within its 2,900 acres, Panama City Beach Conservation Park is one of the region’s top destinations for nature enthusiasts.
Ranging from 1.8 to 11 miles in length, five color-coded loops lead you through this expanse of former timberlands being restored to natural habitats.
An additional gentle 0.6 mile loop along Walt Oberst Way pairs a cypress strand boardwalk with a portion of the Cypress Loop.
Walt Oberst Way, in turn, connects the entire trail system with Gayle’s Trails, paved bike paths stretching to Frank Brown Park and beyond.
The natural-surface trail system is popular with cyclists as well as hikers, with boardwalks across its cypresss domes and wetlands.
Our route described here follows the Yellow Trail, a medium-range hike through many of the sights the park has to offer.
Resources for exploring the region
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Location: Panama City Beach
Length: 6.9 mile loop
Trailhead: 30.259358, -85.897008
Address: 100 Conservation Park, Panama City Beach
Restrooms: At trailhead
Land manager: Panama City Beach
Open dawn to dusk. Dogs are allowed on a leash.
While most of the park’s trails are not accessible, the Walt Oberst Trail boardwalk and paved path and the trail through the picnic area are wheelchair-friendly.
From the intersection of US 98 and SR 79, drive northwest on US 98 for 1.2 miles before turning right onto Griffin Blvd. At the end of the road, turn left into the entrance at Conservation Drive. In 0.3 mile, the parking area is on the left in front of office and next to the trailhead.
Heading south from the office, walk down the paved pathway past the trailhead, following in the direction of the red, green, and yellow arrows.
The trail passes a large pavilion before transitioning to crushed shell while entering a pine flatwoods habitat.
As the impeccably maintained corridor winds through the trees, shaded picnic areas flank the path, nestled in natural settings among palmettos and oaks.
In 0.2 mile, a boardwalk crossing guides visitors over a cypress swamp to an open pine savanna.
Turn right, continuing to follow the red, green, and yellow arrows as the trail snakes though an old pine plantation that has undergone extensive restoration.
It is difficult to believe that the land was once a tree farm, given the number of native species and seemingly random spacing of pines.
Reaching 0.6 miles, turn left, leaving the Red Trail to follow yellow arrows for the remainder of the hike.
In one mile, the Yellow Trail breaks from its common route with the Orange and Blue Trails, heading north towards a boardwalk through a cypress dome.
Thick clusters of buckwheat tree line a grassy stretch of trail through wet flatwoods before another boardwalk ferries hikers through a particularly swampy area.
At the northwest corner of the Yellow Trail loop, follow the arrows east, passing an information kiosk before entering an area in the earlier stages of habitat restoration.
The straight lines of tree plantings are still visible, although they are being thinned, and a fire regimen has been applied to the underbrush.
At 2.9 miles, an optional side trek leads down the John Muir Trail, a loop through swampy and often flooded terrain.
A set of boardwalks traverse some of the soggier spots, though this side adventure will likely result in wet feet.
Taking a dip south, the trail passes fenced water discharge stations. These devices are part of a two-fold plan to conserve resources and restore previously drained wetland ecosystems.
The city uses a system of pumps and pipes to send treated reclaimed water to these areas.
The longest boardwalk in the park begins at 5.3 miles, crossing a vast wetland before reaching the eastern boundary.
Coots and other various waterfowl take cover in the tall marsh grasses, occasionally breaking the otherwise quiet atmosphere with laugh-like calls.
Joining an access road at 5.8 miles, the path curves south, entering an area where sandhill community is recovering from past agricultural use.
Large swaths of wiregrass sway in the breeze, alongside sporadic turkey oaks and pine trees.
Continuing following the collective yellow, orange, and blue arrows for one mile before completing the loop at the trailhead.
More hikes within Conservation Park
Panama City Beach Conservation Park Green Trail
Sample an array of habitats on this easy 1.8 mile loop featuring two boardwalks and a meander through restored pine flatwoods and savanna.
Walt Oberst Way
Explore a cypress strand and pine flatwoods along an easy accessible trail that’s a must on a visit to Panama City Beach Conservation Park.
Hiking the Yellow Trail at Conservation Park
See our photos from Conservation Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
A network of paved trails north of US 98, Gayle’s Trails connect two major parks in Panama City Beach with nearby neighborhoods.
Camp Helen State Park
Haunted by a sea monster sighted in one of the largest ancient coastal dune lakes on Florida’s coast, Camp Helen State Park offers seaside relaxation and historic interpretation.
Pine Log State Forest
Florida’s oldest state forest, Pine Log State Forest north of Panama City Beach offers a variety of loop trails as well as a segment of the statewide Florida Trail
Showcasing the beauty of the South Walton coastline, the Timpoochee Trail connects coastal communities while leading cyclists past Florida’s renowned Coastal Dune Lakes