Cyclists as well as walkers and joggers can use the 18.6-mile Timpoochee Trail to admire the Walton County’s coast’s pretty dune lakes, access some of its beaches and state lands, and enjoy the restaurants and shops of a number of communities strung along its length. This is far from the most scenic or well-maintained bike path in the world, and it can be quite crowded. If you treat it as a means of nabbing some fresh-air exercise while running errands or sightseeing on this part of the Emerald Coast without getting in a car, though, you’ll surely appreciate its presence.
The trail hugs County Highway 30A between its junctions with U.S. Highway 98 in Dune Allen to the west and Inlet Beach to the east. There are multiple businesses renting bikes along the Timpoochee, and numerous places to grab snacks, refreshments, and other essentials.
A definite highlight of the Timpoochee Trail is the survey it provides of Walton County’s unique dune lakes, cradled among the high, rolling sands within shouting distance of the Gulf of Mexico brine. From west to east, these lovely bodies of water include Stallworth Lake, Allen Lake, Oyster Lake, Draper Lake, Big and Little Redfish lakes, Alligator Lake, Western Lake, Eastern Lake, Deer Lake, and Camp Creek Lake. All of them afford good photo opportunities—especially at sunset—with some definite highlights being the covered bridge over Draper Lake and the eastern bridge over Western Lake, the biggest of the county’s dune lakes.
Other dune lakes, beautifully undeveloped, await in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, easily reached at the western end of the Timpoochee Trail. This park’s definitely worth a side trip, given Morris, Campbell, and other lakes, an unspoiled beachfront, and some precious old-growth pinewoods and coastal scrub.
Two other state parks lie right along the Timpoochee Trail: Grayton Beach State Park in the middle section and Deer Lake State Park farther east. Both of them are, like Topsail Hill, well worth exploring. The 15,400-acre Point Washington State Forest, meanwhile, lies a short distance north of the trail, bordering both Grayton Beach and Deer Lake state parks. This state forest offers additional bicycling and hiking opportunities through its marvelous mosaic of natural habitats, which include wet flatwoods, wet prairies, sandhills, and various kinds of forested wetlands, including cypress and titi swamps.
Besides at Grayton Beach, you’ve got several Gulf-side spots along the Timpoochee to get some sand between your toes, including the Dune Allen and Ed Walline regional beach accesses.
Communities and neighborhoods along the way besides Dune Allen and Inlet Beach include Gulf Place, Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, WaterColor, Seaside, Seagrove, Waterbound, Seacrest, Alys Beach, and Rosemary Beach. Each has its own charm, from the Caribbean-inflected look of Alys Beach to the Hollywood cred of Seaside, where much of the hit 1998 Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show was filmed.
You won’t be hurting for restaurants, bars, and cafés to fuel up as you pedal (or walk) the Timpoochee Trail: from Stinky’s Fish Camp, Pizza by the Sea, and the Hurricane Oyster Bar to the Old Florida Fish House, Angelina’s, and La Cocina’s.
Not all sections of the Timpoochee Trail are created equal: The kind and condition of the pavement along the way varies, and there are some narrow stretches that can be challenging to negotiate if the path’s crowded with other cyclists, runners, and walkers. (Heads up: It often is.) You also need to stay alert for cars, given parts of the trail run right along busy road shoulders, and it crosses numerous driveways and streets. Those expecting a serene ride through natural beauty will be, on the whole, disappointed, despite the genuine gems along the route.
But if you’re staying in the area to enjoy those sugar sands and parklands—and especially if you’ve brought a bike or rented one—the Timpoochee serves as a great way to grab groceries, go out to eat, and do some sightseeing along the South Walton coastline.
– At present, the poorly maintained surface that defines part of the Timpoochee Trail make cycling its full length on a road bike a little frustrating. Many will find a mountain or hybrid bike the better choice.