Big Lagoon State Park (Gateway)

12301 Gulf Beach Hwy., Pensacola, 32507
(850) 492-1595
Daily, 8:00am to sunset
Trail map


This site nicely represents the diversity of Panhandle habitats, all in the boundaries of a single park. The bay front offers sandy expanses for wintering Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlin and Least Sandpipers, and winter ducks like Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Bufflehead and Red-breasted Mergansers can be seen diving in the bay from the East Beach tower. Common Loons call on foggy mornings in early spring, and a diversity of gulls and terns feed in area waters. Take the Estuary Trail from East Beach to the Long Pond Boardwalk, which skirts some freshwater wetlands. Then follow the Sand Pine Trail leading along the north edge of the lagoon onto a scrubby point, peppered with pines favored by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Northern Flickers and Brown-headed Nuthatches. Twenty-three species of wood-warbler have been recorded in the park during spring and fall migration. They can be found feeding on insects in hammocks in the campground and along the Long Pond boardwalk. Check with park staff for information on birding events going on in the Panhandle; binoculars are also available for loan from the ranger station.

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