One of more than five marked trails among 11 miles of loops inside this 2,900-acre city preserve, the Green Trail provides a sampler of Conservation Park.
Radiating from the main trailhead, it’s a 1.8 mile journey through pine flatwoods amid sandhills punctuated by cypress domes and patches of sand pine scrub.
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Location: Panama City Beach
Length: 1.8 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.
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.
All trails start at a single point across the parking area from the restrooms. Follow the broad path past the junction of Walt Oberst Way along the Cypress Pond route.
Nicely shaded picnic tables and an outdoor classroom are tucked into the pine forest, where gallberry, grapevines, and saw palmetto make up the understory.
A cypress strand sports shades of rust, orange and yellow in autumn as the needles react to cooler temperatures, shedding into the swamp below.
The trail turns to pea gravel before it reaches boardwalk across a wetland where tannic water flows sluggishly below. Wax myrtles flower in fall.
At the end of the boardwalk, turn right. The broad wood-chipped path leads the Green Trail around the cypress dome, beneath the slash pines.
The original pine savanna along this side of the barrier island was commercially tapped for turpentine up through the 1930s.
Pass a confirmation blaze and head down a straightaway, then curve right to zigzag through scrubby flatwoods towards denser forest in the distance, turning east.
Past a beautiful cluster of blazing star blooming in fall, reach the signposted junction of the Cypress Pond Trail and Osprey Trail at 0.6 mile.
Continue straight across the forest road into the pine forest. The trail jogs right and left through what were once rows of planted pines.
Skirting the edge of a cypress dome, it finally approaches and enters it along another broad boardwalk.
Wax myrtle dominates the understory. The cypresses have a wizened look, their tops cropped off at one height, perhaps by a hurricane in the past.
This is an extensive boardwalk that twists and winds above the watery landscape before plunging downhill into a wall of pines.
Pokeberry and fungi grow in the dense pine duff, and deer moss grows in thick clumps.
The trail makes a sharp left onto a forest road, guided by a split-rail fence. Soft sand underfoot makes for difficult footing for a short stretch.
Guided right by another split-rail fence, the trail curves past a showy array of sandhill wildflowers, including goldenaster, deer’s-tongue, and sandhill wireweed.
A three-way trail junction is at 1.2 miles. To the left is the Buck Pond Trail. The Cypress Pond Trail continues straight ahead.
Turn right to stay on the Green Trail, which joins the Yellow Trail. In the decade since the park opened, this former sandhill has been nicely restored.
A cypress strand edges the forest. At 1.5 miles, a pump station on the left is an obvious landmark, moving treated water through the cypresses for filtration.
Following the elevated forest road, the trail reaches a sign for “Buck Pond Trail” and “Baxley Homestead,” the name for the trailhead.
Pass a gate on the left for Northwest Florida Water Management District access before reaching the trailhead. Turn right to exit, completing the 1.8 mile circuit.
Learn more about Panama City Beach Conservation Park and its trails
See our photos from Panama City Beach Conservation Park
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