The rare coastal dune lakes of South Walton County make our home more than just a beautiful beach community. These treasured lakes exist in only five other places in the world and South Walton claims 15 of them. The lake ecosystems each have their own characteristics that make them unique. The coastal dune lakes are all located within one or two miles of the coast, are mostly fresh water and have an outfall that opens up to the Gulf of Mexico, opening and closing intermittently depending on wind, tides and lake levels. The outfalls allow in saltwater and saltwater plants and animals when open. The lakes consist of brackish water (fresh and salt water combined), which makes them tea colored and can give the wrong impression of being dirty; they are not. The tannic acid from the pine and cypress needles, leaf litter and other organic matter are washed into the lake by the rain and create the coloring. When the lakes break open, the ever-changing ebb and flow produces a different outcome on the beach near the outfall that is equally as unique and beautifully unduplicated.
On September 17, there will be a celebration of South Walton’s coastal dune lakes held at and on Western Lake at Grayton Beach State Park. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at boat launch parking lot at Grayton Beach State Park. (Park admittance fees are still required. $5 per vehicle of up to 8 people.)
Varied activities will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and offer something for everyone including exhibits from the Wilson Biophilia Center and the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance; a talk about the Coastal Dune Lake film and book by Elam and Nic Stolzfus; complimentary YOLO paddle boards, 30A Kickbike rides and Hydrobike cruises. Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty and SETCO Services will provide hot dogs and hamburgers.
At 1 p.m, participants will gather for a paddle board ride to clean up the lake. At 2 p.m., there will be a cleanup of Grayton Beach State Park. This free event is organized by the Coastal Dune Lakes Advisory Board and they will gladly accept donations for Friends of Grayton Beach State Park.
The South Walton Coastal Dune Lakes (From West to East)
Fuller Lake – the western most lake located in Coffeen Nature Preserve
Morris Lake – Located in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Campbell Lake – Located in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Stallworth Lake – Located in Dune Allen Beach
Allen Lake – Located in Dune Allen Beach
Oyster Lake – Located in Dune Allen Beach
Draper Lake – Located in Blue Mountain Beach
Big Red Fish Lake – Located in Blue Mountain Beach
Little Red Fish Lake – Located between Blue Mountain Beach and Grayton Beach
Alligator Lake – Located in Grayton Beach
Western Lake – Located in both Grayton Beach and WaterColor Beach
Eastern Lake – Located in Seagrove Beach
Deer Lake – Located in Deer Lake State Park in WaterSound Beach
Camp Creek Lake – Located in WaterSound Beach
Lake Powell – Located between Walton County and Bay County (largest lake)
Photos by Mellow Media.