Kayaking on Lake Campbell
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Paddling Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

We recently had the opportunity to visit Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. The coastal paradise is located off popular 30a in Santa Rosa Beach. The parks boast of 1,640 acres of beautiful landscapes such as 3.2 miles of white sand beaches, 3 dune lakes and majestic dunes.

Beach boardwalk
Beach boardwalk

This was our second time visiting this beautiful park, read about our first visit here. This time around we came to check out the paddling opportunities available at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. We were excited to discover there are some great opportunities for kayaking and paddleboarding in a rare coastal dune lake or on the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

We met up with Worth Green, president of Friends of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and we loaded up on a golf cart for a fun tour of the park. The first stop was the beach, which is only accessible by trolly (provided by the park), bike or foot. At the beach, we saw beautiful dunes, emerald water, wildlife and also learned what an outfall is on a dune lake.

Dunes at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Dunes at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

After visiting the beach we loaded up and headed to Lake Campbell where we learned about dune lakes and the paddling opportunities on the lake.

Paddleboard or kayak on a coastal dune lake

At Lake Campbell we met up with Robert Spangler and Hallie Oalde who talked to us about the unique paddling opportunities on the rare coastal dune lakes.

These undeveloped coastal dunes lakes are unspoiled by development, which makes a fantastic place to immerse yourself in the surrounding natural beauty.

“Coastal dune lakes occur naturally and it’s a lake that will occur in-between the dunes, which are the barriers to the beach, and the mainland.”

The coastal dune lakes create a great habitat for wildlife to flourish in close proximity to the gulf. In and around the dune lakes there are shorebirds, Osprey, Eagles, gators and other wildlife. The lakes are fresh to brackish water which makes a great place to cast a line.

The park has many ranger programs which include guided paddling tours, such as a sunset paddle. Coming soon on Lake Campbell there will be a self-guided tour that will consist of approximately 10 signs where you will paddle and learn about native plants and wildlife.

After learning about the lake and the surrounding area, we got the opportunity to set sail on a kayak to go explore the lake for ourselves. I really enjoyed paddling by the dunes and cypress domes on this beautiful coastal dune lake.

Cypress Dome on Lake Campbell
Cypress Dome on Lake Campbell

The park has kayaks and paddleboards available for rent on both the Gulf and in Lake Campbell. As a side note, you can bring your own gear to the gulf but you are required to rent gear to paddle on the lake.

Paddling in Emerald Waters

One of our favorite things to do is go for a paddle on a good calm clear day on the Gulf of Mexico. At Topsail Hill Preserve State Park you can bring your own or rent a kayak or paddleboard from the park.

Emerald water on the Gulf
Emerald water on the Gulf

With 3.2 miles of secluded beaches, there is plenty of natural scenery to enjoy paddling along the coastline. You’ll get to experience what northwest Florida once looked like before development. Paddling along the shoreline you may get the opportunity to see dolphins, sea turtles and other sea life.

Just remember, if you bring your own gear you’ll need to arrange transportation, it’s about 1 mile to the beach by foot, bike or trolly.

We had a great time staying at the park. We hiked and paddled and I’ve got to say it’s a beautiful place to enjoy the weekend.

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