Topsail Hill Preserve State Park protects a line of rare freshwater coastal dune lakes in an area otherwise stripped by heavy oceanfront development.
More than 1,600 acres of land are preserved inside the park, protecting a natural coastline in Santa Rosa Beach in South Walton County.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Santa Rosa Beach
Address: 7525 W County Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach
Fees: $4-6 per vehicle
Restroom: Near main parking area
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset daily. Camping must be reserved in advance.
Leashed pets welcome except on beaches. A tram connects the main parking area with the beach.
The main park entrance is along CR 30A just east of where it ends at US 98 outside Destin, although much of the park also fronts US 98 just east of Destin.
About the Park
On a cool evening, when the mists roll in off the Gulf of Mexico, the dunes beyond Campbell Lake at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park are shrouded in mystery.
Hues of tangerine and lilac fade across the water as the light wanes.
It’s the perfect time to be here, and if you’re camping at one of the state park system’s largest campgrounds, you can walk the beach and enjoy the show.
Most visitors come to Topsail Hill for the beach, but it is wisely out of sight and sound of vehicular traffic, unlike others nearby.
From the large main parking lot inside the gate, a tram runs to the beach hourly. It also connects campers at the massive Gregory E. Moore RV Resort to the waterfront.
The tram makes two visits daily to a station at Campbell Lake, your launch point for enjoying the wild spaces of this preserve.
Kayaks are available for rent for paddling the lake, and the Campbell Lake Trail provides a gateway to an extensive trail system across the preserve’s west end.
A network of more than 10 miles of hiking trails showcase the natural wonders of Campbell Lake and Morris Lake, coastal dune lakes which overflow into the sea when overfull.
Each of the named trails are links together in a large chain, enabling a loop hike touching on both lakes and their surrounding habitats.
Hidden bogs sport carnivorous plants, while curiously stunted, picturesque cypresses grow along lily-dotted ponds in the salt breeze.
Traversing both open dunes and dense pine flatwoods, the trail system never reaches the beach itself but provides glimpses of the Gulf from tall dunes.
Topsail Hill Preserve acts as the western anchor for the Timpoochee Trail, an 18.4 mile bike path paralleling 30A.
It is the park closest to the terminus of the bike path at US 98. Along its length, the Timpoochee Trail traverses three state parks and a state forest.
Beyond its eastern terminus at US 98 in Rosemary Beach, a fourth state park, Camp Helen, is within a half mile of its east end.
The Gregory E. Moore RV Resort at Topsail Hill has a swimming pool and shuffleboard courts, plus bungalows for rent. A tram carries campers out to the beach.
Hundreds of campsites comprise both the RV park and dedicated sites for tent campers. The preserve also features a group camping area.
All sites must be reserved in advance via Reserve America, which charges an administrative fee and a full-days-stay cancellation / change fee.
Hiking Topsail Hill Preserve
See our photos of Topsail Hill Preserve
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
There’s a reason this is called the Emerald Coast, and you’ll know why as soon as the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico catch your eye. They make a strong contrast to the sugar-white strand and tall dunes protected by Henderson Beach State Park.
Edging a windswept bayou off Choctawhatchee Bay, lush cultivated gardens surround the historic Wesley House, an elegant home built by timber baron William Henry Wesley in 1897.
Protecting the upland watersheds of the Coastal Dune Lakes along the South Walton coastline, Point Washington State Forest offers extensive offroad biking and hiking trails