South Walton Running Spot Rundown
Quick Nature Run
For a quick run that’s heavy on scenery, Deer Lake Trail is an ideal route. It’s rated an easy-to-moderate trail, so you’ll be able to focus on the scenery for the entire one and a half miles. And oh, what scenery it is – you’ll be treated to splashes of color from beautiful native wildflowers, plants, birds and butterflies, as well as the namesake coastal dune lake. The Deer Lake trailhead is located on the north side of Scenic Highway 30A, right across from the park entrance.
Mix-and-Match State Forest Jog
The 15,000-acre Point Washington State Forest has over 27 miles of trails lined by longleaf pine flatwoods, wet prairie, coastal scrub, swamplands and sandhills. With so much to choose from here, you can really make a run whatever you want, but a popular trail is the Eastern Lake Trail System, located along S. County Road 395. For a moderately difficult run with tons of eye candy (and possibly even some rare species), check out the Red Loop. At 3.69 miles, it’s enough to satisfy the urge for a quick run, or stimulate the desire to take on some more miles – it’s up to you.
Half-Marathon Training Route
Getting yourself ready for the annual Seaside School Half Marathon? Run part or all of the 13.1-mile route that hosts more than 2,000 runners every year. Begin in Seaside and head west along Highway 30A for 6.5 miles, taking in the scenery as you pass through WaterColor, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach and Santa Rosa Beach. Make a U-turn near Gulf Place, then head back the way you came, finishing up back at the starting point. Take in the sights of each beach neighborhood along with the natural splendor while you gear yourself up to beat your personal record!
Distance Trail Run
Looking to just get out there and run long? The Timpoochee Trail is one of the most popular running routes in the area, winding through 12 beach neighborhoods along Scenic Highway 30A. Its 19 miles cover recreational areas, state parks, the state forest and coastal dunes lakes, while also offering easy access to activities and stops along the way. Although the trail is long, the route is fairly easy, so you can take in your surroundings or turn back at any point.
Done training and looking for a race?
Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K Run: Held annually in Seaside, the race features a 13.1-mile half marathon course and a 5K course. The 2019 race weekend is scheduled for March 1-3. For more information, visit runseasidefl.com.
Alys Beach 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run: Every September, this course leads runners through Alys Beach, ending with an obstacle course for kids of all ages. For more information, visit alysbeach.com/5k.
Sandestin Triathlon: Held every September at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, the race features a half-mile swim in the Gulf of Mexico, a 20-mile bike ride along the coast, and a four-mile run on the beach side and bay side of the resort. For more information, visit sandestintriathlon.com.
30A Half Marathon & 5K: Beginning at Gulf Place, the 13.1-mile course brings runners through Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach and WaterColor before returning to Gulf Place. Usually scheduled in October each year, it’s typically perfect running weather, too. To learn more, visit 30ahalf.com.
30A 10K, 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run: Held in Rosemary Beach over the Thanksgiving Holiday, this race winds through Alys Beach, Seacrest and WaterSound before heading back to finish in Rosemary Beach. For more information, visit 30a10k.com.