For a sampling of the fragile coastal habitats protected along St. Joseph Bay by St Joseph Peninsula State Park, take a short walk on this spectacularly scenic coastal trail. You’ll meander through a diminutive scrub forest where the delicate Florida rosemary, myrtle oak, and Chapman oak are gnarled and wizened like bonsai thanks to the persistent coastal breezes, and scramble up and over dunes covered in scrub forest to enjoy panoramas of the bay.
Location: Cape San Blas
Length: 0.9 mile
Lat-Long: 29.776583, -85.402133
Type: Round-trip and loop
Fees / Permits: state park fee
Bug factor: moderate
There are numerous benches along the walk, and several crossovers in the middle of the loop to shorten the walk, making this ideal for small children.
For more information about St Joseph Peninsula State Park, which also features another short walk – the Maritime Hammock Trail – and a lengthy wilderness exploration in its own Wilderness Preserve, visit the state park website
From Port St. Joe, follow SR 30A to SR 30E; continue on SR 30E until it ends in the state park. Follow the state park entrance road to the picnic area past the dunes to the Bayside Picnic Area. Park and walk down along the bay to the boardwalk that leads to the nature trail loop.
Immediately after crossing the boardwalk over a tidal creek, the trail splits three ways. Turn right to keep to the outer loop, walking out to the shoreline. Follow the arrows around the coastal fringe, where the trail squeezes down a narrow strip between the bay and cabins. After 0.4 mile, an arrow directs you to the left into a hilly stretch of relict dunes, creating a loop back to the main trail.