This is Segment 3, Region A. Be sure to bring a mask and snorkel if paddling either Holmes Creek or Econfina Creek. Both are remote streams that feature crystalline springs. Also, the upper portion of Econfina Creek might be the most challenging river paddle in Florida due to its rushing water, hairpin turns and steep banks. The middle and lower portions of the river are slower moving and okay for beginners.
The coastal part of this segment starts at Grayton Beach State Park. It's one of the few places in the world where coastal dune lakes meet saltwater and a sliver of sand is all the separates the freshwater of Western Lake from the Gulf of Mexico.
After exploring Western Lake be sure to stop at the master-planned resort community of Seaside. It's picture perfect, in-fact so much as many of the scenes from the movie The Truman Show with Jim Carey were filmed here.
Next stop is Panama City Beach (PCB), popular with vacationers and home to one of the largest Spring Break gatherings in the state. If you plan on staying at a motel be sure to get reservations in advance, as spring and summer are the busy seasons.
Leaving the "big city" behind, you'll enter into a more remote environment where your new companions are dolphins and an occasional fishing boat or jet fighter from Tyndall Air Force Base. This stretch (25 miles) offers incredible views of coastal dunes shaped by years of storms.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is a fitting end to this saltwater section, offering a true coastal wilderness experience. The preserve is accessible by foot or by boat, and circumnavigation paddlers can primitive camp in the preserve with advance reservations.
63 miles of circumnavigational trail
2 state designated river trails
- The upper part of Econfina Creek requires intermediate to advanced paddling skills. It may require an overnight camping stop to complete section. The gauge at Scott's Bridge at put-in should be between 2 and 4 feet for best results.
- The coastal stretch has long stretches without public camping locations and will require motel overnights. Distinguishing motels from condominiums from the water can be difficult, as most motels are not marked on the water side.
- No camping is allowed on Tyndall Air Force Base, so a 25 mile paddle is required from St. Andrews State Park to Mexico Beach, where motel accommodations can be made
- A GPS unit is a vital piece of equipment in the coastal stretch as breakers along the beach may make it necessary to paddle farther offshore and fog can shroud landmarks
Primary Overnight Stops & Distances Between on Circumnavigational Trail
- Grayton Beach State Park Campground to Grand Cayman Motel, 14 miles
- Grand Cayman Motel to St. Andrews State Park Campground, 17.5 miles
- St. Andrews State Park Campground to Mexico Beach, 25 miles
- Mexico Beach to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, 6.5 miles
- Holmes Creek (9 miles)
- Econfina Creek (24 miles)
- Police, Fire and Medical Emergencies: 911
- Walton County Sheriff: 850-892-8186
- Bay County Sheriff: 850-747-4700
- Gulf County Sheriff: 850-227-1115
- Tyndall Air Force Base Operator: 850-283-1113
- Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission Hotline: 1-888-404-3922
External Site Links