Best known for its beaches, bike paths, and barrier island parks, Panama City Beach is also a launch point for backpacking and long day hikes.
Vast tracts of land to its north include the state’s oldest state forest, Pine Log State Forest, and the beautiful Econfina Creek watershed. While this region took a strong hit from Hurricane Michael in October 2018, most recreation areas have reopened and the beaches are as lovely as ever. Head towards Pine Log and Nokuse for the best backpacking.
Trails and Parks near Panama City Beach
- Buttonbush Marsh Overlook- Less than a mile from the strumming waves of the Gulf of Mexico, Buttonbush Marsh provides an important habitat for wildlife at the end of the barrier island at Panama City Beach.
- 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.
- Conservation Park Green Trail- In Panama City Beach off US 98, Conservation Park is a vast pine plantation and cypress dome restoration area with loop trails from 1.8 to 11 miles long.
- Deer Lake State Park- At Deer Lake State Park, the coastal flatwoods ecosystem hosts rare pitcher plants, Gulf Coast lupine and stately magnolias along a coastal dune lake, with beach access along the Gulf of Mexico at Alys Beach.
- Econfina Nature Trail- On the Econfina Nature Trail, discover rugged climbs, steep drop-offs, bubbling springs, and deep crevices into the earth as you walk between two major springs where you can swim.
- Florida Trail, Econfina Creek- CLOSED. 17.7 miles. Surprisingly rugged and delightfully diverse, the Florida Trail along Econfina Creek traversed ravines, sidehill, and high bluffs above the spring-fed creek.
- Frank Brown Park- The primary recreational complex in Panama City Beach - with aquatic center and ballfields - Frank Brown Park also provides access to biking on Gayle's Trails.
- Gator Lake Trail- At St. Andrews State Park, the Gator Lake Trail is only a half-mile but hits the park's high point with panoramic views in the scrub forest and great birding along an established rookery.
- Gayle’s Trails- A network of paved trails north of US 98, Gayle's Trails connect two major parks in Panama City Beach with nearby neighborhoods.
- Grayton Beach Nature Trails- At Grayton Beach State Park, the nature trail system introduces you to a coastal dune lake and its surrounding habitats, as well as showcasing the beauty of the beach
- Grayton Beach State Park- Grayton Beach State Park protects one in a chain of rare coastal dune lakes with freshwater mere yards from the Gulf of Mexico. Nature trails introduce you to the rugged barrier island dunes and the pine flatwoods around the lake.
- Heron Pond Trail- At St. Andrews State Park, the interpretive Heron Pond Trail is a walk through coastal history, starting with a mockup turpentine distillery at the trailhead.
- Jetty Beach- One of Florida's most popular beach destinations, Jetty Beach at St. Andrews State Park offers both wild and mellow surf on either side of the jetty.
- Oaks by the Bay Park- In the old waterfront village of St. Andrews, Oaks by the Bay Park is a quiet place under the shade of ancient oak trees, including The Sentry, thought to be more than 250 years old.
- 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
- Sandy Point- One of the secrets of St. Andrews State Park is its gentle, sweeping beach along Sandy Point, a natural extension of the barrier island that divides Grand Lagoon from St. Andrews Bay.
- St. Andrews State Park- St. Andrews State Park is a pristine getaway on this coast that you won't want to miss. It's one of two bookends of natural wonder along the shoreline of Panama City Beach.
- Tucker Bayou Trail- At Eden Gardens State Park, the Tucker Bayou Trail starts and ends at the Tucker Bayou picnic area and leads you through dense forests above the bayou
More near Panama City Beach
- Florida’s Best Urban Parks (Oct 2016)- When you live in a tightly packed space, you need somewhere green as your go-to place nearby. These are our top picks for parks in Florida's urban areas, chosen for their diversity of outdoor activities and/or their unique green spaces.
- Tegus establish a foothold in Florida (Jul 2014)- It's big. It's colorful. And it's the newest non-native species to establish breeding populations in Florida. Meet the black and white tegu.
- Gayle’s Trails (Apr 2014)- A network of paved trails north of US 98, Gayle's Trails connect two major parks in Panama City Beach with nearby neighborhoods.
- Flood gauges for Northwest Florida (Mar 2013)- When North Florida and the Florida Panhandle experience severe flooding along major rivers and their tributaries, add in icy temperatures and it's a recipe for hypothermia.
- Camp Helen State Park opens new hiking trail (Apr 2010)- While working on research for project in process, I was delighted to see that Camp Helen State Park – of the notable sea monster of Lake Powell – has added a nature trail on the north side of US 98. Fully accessible, this 0.8 mile loop provides an easy stroll with rest benches along the […]