Connecting together one of Florida’s outstanding natural features, the Coastal Dune Lakes, the Timpoochee Trail is beloved by those who live or vacation along it.
It provides a pleasant ride with ocean and lake views, plenty of interesting stops for both photography and dining, and the strum of the waves within earshot.
Passing through three state parks and a state forest, it balances time in nature with stretches through popular oceanfront communities along CR 30A.
Our resources for exploring the area
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Location: Santa Rosa Beach to Rosemary Beach
Length: 18.4 miles linear
Land manager: Walton County Parks & Recreation
Open sunrise to sunset. Leashed pets welcome. Be cautious of residential driveways and business entrances.
Beach access points and beach communities can be very busy, especially on weekends.
Starting at the western end of the trail and riding east is preferable, since Topsail Hill Preserve State Park serves as a terminus trailhead.
Since the trail begins a tenth of a mile before you can park and access it from the main lot at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, most folks don’t ride down to the end.
It continues west from the Topsail Hill crosswalk with intent of a future extension to the county line. For now, ride east.
On the north side of 30A for this initial stretch, the trail offers a distant view of Stallworth Lake to the south at 1.4 miles.
This is the first of the Coastal Dune Lakes you see along this ride. These freshwater lakes lie so close to the beach that they exchange waters with the Gulf of Mexico.
When the lakes are high enough from rainfall, fresh water pours out in an outfall, a temporary stream snaking across the beach.
Intermittently, salt water splashes in when tides are high or seas are rough. Lakes like these are quite rare around the world. You’ll see many along this ride.
Stinky’s Fish Camp – a favorite among our friends – is on Allen Lake, which adjoins the trail as it comes into the community of Dune Allen.
At 2.1 miles there is a crossover across CR 30A to the south side at the Dune Allen Public Beach Access. Restrooms and water fountains are available, with a nice view of the beach beyond.
Most beach access points, even the ones that are just a walkway without a parking area, have a place you can lock your bike to a rack so you can stop and enjoy the beach.
The Timpoochee Trail remains on the south side of CR 30A as it crosses the outfall from Oyster Lake.
Soon after the bridge, it crosses to the north side of CR 30A at 2.3 miles, providing a scenic panorama of Oyster Lake.
Passing a convenience store, it comes into a busier area of condos and subdivisions leading up to Gulf Place Town Center.
The trail switches to the south side of the highway right where it reaches the town center, passing by the Ed Walline Public Beach Access at 3.4 miles.
A handful of restaurants are at this corner, but it’s another half mile before you ride by Goatfeathers, a popular seafood market along this route.
This part of Walton County has some elevation to it. You notice it on the drop down to the covered bridge across the inflow to Draper Lake.
While you can’t see the Gulf from this lake crossing, a community bridge is all that breaks the natural beauty of the setting.
The trail makes a long arc around the coastal pine forest and scrub surrounding the lake, turning south towards Blue Mountain.
At 64 feet above sea level, Blue Mountain has the highest elevation along the Gulf Coast in the United States.
Less than a quarter mile after crossing the road to Blue Mountain Beach at 5.6 miles, the trail crosses a long bridge over Big Redfish Lake.
Nourished by the same upland marshes, cypress strands, and bayhead swamps, Little Redfish Lake is the next to ride along. Both share an outfall beach.
The trail enters a nice long protected stretch within Grayton Beach State Park. Pass by the entrance to the cabin area at 7 miles.
Where the trail crosses CR 283 in the community of Grayton Beach, there is a small grocery store and seafood restaurant on the corner.
Once past the community, you’re back in the park again. Watch for the access point to the multi-use Flatwoods Trail to the north.
There are no parking areas roadside in Grayton Beach State Park along this stretch, so visitors looking to ride either trail must ride out about 0.8 mile from the parking area near the beach.
Soon after passing the park’s main entrance at 8.3 miles, the trail makes a long arc along and across the waters of Western Lake.
This is one of the most beautiful parts of the Timpoochee Trail, with long boardwalks and overlooks for you to stop and savor the views.
Leaving the state park, the trail sweeps into the next coastal community, Watercolor. Young live oaks shade the path, which is made of pavers for a stretch.
Passing bistros and wine bars, it jumps back to the north side of SR 30 just before reaching the Seaside Public Parking area at 9.5 miles, where there are restrooms and a water fountain.
Seaside has a beautiful oceanfront that’s a short walk from this parking area if you park your bike and head across 30A.
The town is known for its New Urbanism architecture and its starring role in a 90s movie called The Truman Show, featuring actor Jim Carrey.
Riding through town, cyclists will appreciate the food trucks – all vintage Airstream trailers – with trailside outdoor dining.
Most activity is concentrated around the Seaside Amphitheater, with many restaurants and shops in a central commercial district.
Past the commercial area, the trail is in front of condos and homes surrounded by nice landscaping, but there is little shade.
Heading into Seagrove Beach, an older community along CR 30A, there are patches of woodlands and taller trees once again.
Crossing CR 395 at 10.4, note the side path north along it. That leads to the Eastern Lake Trails trailhead of Point Washington State Forest, less than 2 miles north.
While this area is largely commercial and residential, with the path very close to the road, you can catch glimpses of the Gulf upon occasion, until the trail swoops northward.
The reason for leaving the shore is to go around the north side of Eastern Lake, another of the larger Coastal Dune Lakes.
Passing Greenway Park by 12.3 miles, the trail crosses Eastern Lake, with a long forested stretch beyond it, a nice breather.
The reason for this nice stretch is Deer Lake State Park, which protects both sides of CR 30A along the approach to Deer Lake.
At 13.7 miles, the state park entrance is simply a dirt road leading to a natural setting with a long boardwalk to the beach.
After the natural area, a large community called Watersound is under development. The trail passes by several restaurants here.
Staying close to CR 30A along a sand pine forest, the trail continues along rolling hills to approach Camp Creek Lake.
At 15.2 miles, this is the last of the Coastal Dune Lakes along the Timpoochee Trail. The trail is barely separated from the road on the causeway over the lake.
Heading uphill into Seacrest, a long-established community, watch for traffic pulling across the bike path from condo complexes and homes.
There are two beach access points in the community, easy to pick out from the crosswalks to them: Gulf Lakes and Seacrest Drive. Both have bike racks.
A half mile after the second one, the trail passes Watersound Parkway, coming to the grand entrance to Alys Beach at 16.4 miles.
Another planned community, it has a similar feel and layout to Seaside, with a handful of restaurants near a central green.
When the bike path turns to a sidewalk along a nicely shaded avenue edged by residences, you’ve entered Rosemary Beach.
This is the last of the communities along the CR 30A corridor that the Timpoochee Trail parallels. Emerging from the shade, you reach US 98.
The trail officially ends here at this intersection, at 18.4 miles. Across US 98 is the Donut Hole, a popular breakfast and lunch stop.
Side paths continue both west and east along US 98. Camp Helen State Park is 1.3 miles east and can be used as eastern terminus parking.
Just inside Bay County, it sits along Lake Powell, the largest of the Coastal Dune Lakes.
Free parking is available at Dune Allen Public Beach Access, Ed Walline Public Beach Access, Blue Mountain Beach, Seaside, Greenway Park, and Walton Dunes.
Since all of these parking areas also provide beach access and some have restrooms, they can be quite busy.
For a day use fee, parking is also possible at the state parks along the route. Of the three state parks, Topsail Hill has the largest parking area and is the closest to the trail.
|0.0||Santa Rosa Beach terminus|
|0.1||Topsail Hill Preserve trailhead 0.1E|
|2.1||Crossover to south side / Dune Allen Public Beach Access|
|2.3||Oyster Lake outflow / crossover north side|
|3.4||Ed Walline Public Beach Access|
|4.2||Draper Lake covered bridge|
|5.8||Big Redfish Lake|
|6.7||Little Redfish Lake|
|7.0||Grayton Beach cabin entrance|
|7.7||CR 283 / Grayton General Store (side path north)|
|8.3||Grayton Beach State Park main entrance|
|9.5||Crossover to north side in Seaside|
|10.4||CR 395 (side path north to Point Washington Eastern Lake Trails)|
|14.0||Deer Lake State Park main entrance|
|15.2||Camp Creek Lake|
|15.4||Gulf Lakes Public Beach Access (bike rack)|
|16.1||Seacrest Drive Public Beach Access (bike rack)|
|18.4||Rosemary Beach terminus at US 98|
Topsail Hill Bike Path
If you started from Topsail Hill, you paid to enter the state park, so why not take a look at the coastal scrub forest and a coastal dune lake up close?
It’s worth following their paved trail (used by park staff and the tram) through the woods out to Campbell Lake, a 3.4-mile round trip.
Point Washington State Forest
Offroad riders comfortable with soft sand and pine duff can take on a network of multi-use trails from Grayton Beach State Park to adjacent Point Washington State Forest.
Stretching from US 98 north to the Eastern Lake Trails of Point Washington State Forest, these offroad trails go on in both directions.
Use the Grayton Beach Flatwoods Trail as the connector, or opt for the side path along CR 395 to reach the Eastern Lake Trails trailhead.
For offroad riders, a 16.5 mile loop is possible connecting the Grayton Beach Flatwoods Trail to the singletrack Longleaf Greenway to Satinwood Drive back to the Timpoochee Trail.
Along the Route
Visit these stops along the Timpoochee Trail
With one of Florida’s most beautiful sweeps of beach, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is a linear preserve with tall dunes along three miles of shoreline
Cradled in a cocoon of coastal dunes, Western Lake shimmers in the sun. At Grayton Beach State Park, it’s the focus of both passive and active recreation
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.
See photos from biking the Timpoochee Trail
Our thanks to our friend and fellow adventurer James “Steps” Parker, who provided photography and tips for the ride.