A hidden treasure inside Pensacola Naval Air Station, Trout Point Nature Trail showcases fragile coastal habitats from an easy-to-ramble, accessible boardwalk. This 1.5-mile round-trip walk offers extensive scenic views of Big Lagoon and Perdido Key and numerous benches and observation points for you to sit and enjoy the salt breeze.
Length: 1.5 miles
Lat-Lon: 30.333349, -87.338438
Fees / Permits: free, but you must check through the gates of Pensacola NAS
Bug factor: low
As this trail is on a military base, the base is subject to closure at any time. Otherwise, the trail is open from 6 AM until a half hour before sunset. Pets and bicycles are not allowed. In case of any issues, Pensacola NAS security can be reached at 850-452-2453.
From US 98 in Pensacola, follow CR 292, Gulf Beach Highway, west through Warrington to Bayou Grande. Turn left on CR 292A and left on Blue Angel Parkway. Pass through the Pensacola NAS gate, where you will need to show an ID. Be sure to tell them you are visiting Trout Point Nature Trail.
Continue 0.7 mile to the turnoff on the right. Drive down a half-mile one lane sand route along the oceanfront to get to the trailhead.
To protect the fragile dune habitats, this trail is entirely a boardwalk. Starting out from the trailhead sign, you immediately encounter a side trail coming in from the right from a nearby housing community through a wet pine flatwoods. Interpretive markers along the boardwalk explain the plants you see around you, like yaupon holly and coastal rosemary. The boardwalk leads you forward into a broad, open, and beautiful coastal scrub, with a needlerush marsh on the right providing a counterpoint along the edge of the pine flatwoods.
Big Lagoon sparkles off to your left, with Gulf Islands National Seashore beyond. An observation deck provides a sweeping view of the dunes of Perdido Key. The distant end of the key was once topped with a Civil War era fortress, Fort McRae, which eventually succumbed to erosion and toppled into the bay.
Passing a bench at a quarter mile, the boardwalk continues along a straightaway. In the distance, you can see condos along the shore, beyond the pine forest. There are many dead trees dropped across the sand by prior storms. The sand itself is so blinding white that it’s a good idea to wear sunglasses. Small wildflowers and shrubs show up nicely against its sparkle.
The straightaway yields to a curve in the boardwalk towards the lagoon, right along the edge of an extensive needlerush marsh where yaupon holly sport bright red berries in the fall. As you follow the boardwalk over the dunes, you hear aircraft activity in the area. This is the air base where the Blue Angels are based.
The next observation platform is on the wooded side of the trail, overlooking Davis Bayou. Not far in the distance are marinas and condos along the shore. In the far distance you can see giant skyscrapers on Perdido Key, beyond Big Lagoon. After a half mile, you pass a bench. The trail turns away from Davis Bayou and points directly towards the lagoon.
Trail’s end is an observation platform overlooking Big Lagoon, with a small sandy beach along Trout Point. Trout Point is a beauty spot, preserved in an area where development has otherwise taken the shoreline by storm. Enjoy the views across the lagoon to Perdido Key. This marks your turn-around point. Follow the boardwalk back the way you came.