Inspired by the beautiful documentary by Elam Stoltzfus, the Coastal Dunes Tour highlights the coastal dune lakes of Walton County, where 15 of these lakes still function as nature intended, locked between the dunes and the ocean. Fresh water most of the time, they spill out between the dunes into the ocean during periods of heavy rainfall, only to close up and fill again, and again.
Friday, March 9th
We depart Central Florida at 7AM and travel to Apalachicola to visit the home of eminent Botanist, Dr Alvan Wentworth Chapman. If you recognize the name, it's because the extremely rare Chapman's Rhododendron, the custard apple, the wild Florida azalea, the large-flowered skullcap, the spreading yellow foxglove, Georgia holly and many others are named after him.
Dr Alvan Wentworth Chapman lived most all of his adult life in Apalachicola. "Flora of the Southern United States", published in 1860, was the first comprehensive description of US plants in any region beyond the northeastern states. Dr Chapman settled here in 1947, built a home and remained for the rest of his long life working as a physician and botanist, collaborating with Asa Gray. We will have a tour of his gardens and learn more about this amazing botanist.
We check into our cabins at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and enjoy a get-acquainted pizza party in their clubhouse.
Saturday, March 10th
Saturday morning we will have a sunrise hike along the dunes of Morris Lake. For those sleepy-heads, we will join you at Breakfast with the Ranger. Chris Whittle, the park naturalist will take us on a hike through the recently burned sections.
Saturday afternoon, we travel to Grayton Beach State Park for a tour of their dunes and natural areas.
We will have dinner on Lake Allen, one of the coastal dune lakes, at Stinky's Fish Camp, a local favorite.
Sunday, March 11th
Blackwater River State Forest
Blackwater River State Forest is known as the number one paddling destination in the state and in March we should encounter many spring blooms including wild Azaleas along the banks. If you would rather take a hike, join our guide to seek out some of the upland areas.
Traveling back from Blackwater River, we take a trip along the famous Hwy 30A in south Walton County, crossing or passing Stallworth, Allen, Oyster, Draper, Big Redfish, Little Redfish, Alligator and Western lake, all part of the chain of coastal dune lakes.
Seaside Village was the first in a long line of walkable, beachside communities developed along Hwy 30A and boasts of their native plant landscaping with no mow grasses. We will tour this lovely community and learn how it was developed in concert with the surrounding environment.
Dinner will be in Seaside Village at their many local restaurants and food trucks.