D26. Grayton Beach State Park
Nearest City: Point Washington
Phone Number: 850-267-8300
Website: D26. Grayton Beach State Park
Amenities: Restrooms, Entrance fee required, Birding by boat, Birding by foot/hiking, Birding by bicycle, Best time of day: All day, Recommended length of visit: a few hours, Camping br>
Habitats: Freshwater Swamp, Freshwater Marsh/Wetlands, Pines, Lake/Pond/Impoundment, Scrub, Marine/Bay, Salt Marsh, Beach/Dune
Grayton Beach State Park is very popular with beachgoers in warm weather, but in cooler months is worth checking. On the north side of CR 30A, the 4.2-mile Grayton Beach Hike and Bike Trail runs through pine flatwoods and along the north end of Western Lake (a brackish, coastal dune lake), which can be good for wading birds, Bald Eagle, Barred Owl, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pied-billed Grebe and more. For longer hikes, the Lake Loop Trail connects to Point Washington State Forest’s (site # 27) extensive trail system. Don’t miss the 1-mile, interpretive, Grayton Beach Nature Trail, which begins at the beach parking area. As it winds through sand dunes and under a sand live oak canopy, look for Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Towhee and Orange-crowned Warbler; an additional loop also runs through pine flatwoods (listen for Eastern Bluebird) and along the southern end of Western Lake (check for Common Loon in winter). The beachfront offers plovers, terns and gulls (Bonaparte’s in winter) and plunging gannets out to sea October through March. As with all coastal sites, watch for raptors cruising the beachfront and migrants arriving off the Gulf in spring. Loaner optics and field guides are available.
Directions: From the intersection of US 98 and US 331 east of Destin, drive east approx. 1.5 mi. and then turn right (south) on CR
283. Follow CR 283 for 1.7 mi to CR 30A and turn left (east); the entrance is on the right (south) side after 0.5 mi.
Open year round, 8 AM to sundown.