If you have ever spent any time on the East Coast, Point Washington State Forest probably is not the first thing that comes to your mind. You likely think of a little piece of beach heaven called 30A. It is probably the closest thing to the Caribbean while staying in North America. Technically, 30A is a county road in South Walton that extends about 20 miles, through Destin to Panama City Beach. Once, a cute little beach town, made popular by a 1998 Movie starring Jim Carrey called The Truman Show. The plot of The Truman Show was to create a fictional “perfect world”, put a regular man in this world and make it a reality TV show for viewers to watch. No more spoilers. Just watch the movie, it’s really good. All that to say that they picked a little beach town called Seaside, FL on 30A to represent their perfect world. Needless to say, it is quite the popular tourist spot these days.
Even though this trip was planned as a family vacation getaway, as an overlander and adventurer, I was very excited about getting out and exploring an all new kind of terrain than what I am use too. Leaving the mountains, trees, mud and waterfalls behind for just a moment to get out and see what kind of adventures lie within the sand dunes, palm trees and salt water, I packed up the Jeep and headed south.
After researching a couple of places to explore in this area of Florida, understanding the rules on where you can and cannot drive, I realized there is a very large State Forest that stretches over 15,000 acres, directly through the 30A beach area just outside of Destin Florida.
Point Washington State Forest is over 15,000 acres of flat woods, wet prairie, cypress swamps and sandhills. It is home to a huge ecosystem of plants and animals listed as threatened or endangered. The Forest is used by many yearly for over 27miles of hiking, biking, fishing, horseback and camping in select locations. While regular disperse camping is not available, there are select wilderness camp sites available that are private.
Exploring Point Washington took me through a trail system that seemed to go on forever. Down wider sand roads, through tight off shoot trails that is sure to leave a mark or two on your Jeep, it seemed we were the ONLY one’s out there. For hours of exploring, we never saw another hiker, explorer or adventurer, which in a couple of cases was a bit nerve racking. At the time of this adventure, I had not installed my recovery winch and didn’t realize what I was getting myself into.
Down several off shoot roads, tucked back in the shade from the canopy of trees, I approached several larger water crossings. After stoping and putting a stick in the water, I realized this water had been sitting for a really long time and therefore was very soft and sandy in the bottom. Because I was alone and my recovery gear was sparse, I choose not to push forward in those areas and come back when I was better prepared.
If you find yourself down south in Florida and are looking for a different kind of exploration adventure, I would highly recommend Point Washington State Forest. I found it very therapeutic early in the morning, with my cup of coffee while letting the family catch some extra ZZZZ’s at the house.