Today, we are continuing our exploration of the fantastic state parks found in the South Walton Area. For those who didn’t get a chance to read our previous article, we talked about Eden Gardens, Topsail Hill Preserve, and Deer Lake State Parks. Of course, these are all fantastic state parks to visit, but here are a couple more great options!
Grayton Beach State Park
Spanning nearly 2,000 acres, Grayton Beach State Park is a nationally recognized location, mainly due to the highly rated, magnificent Grayton Beach within. Beachgoers quickly fall in love with its pristine sands and amazing scenery. In fact, as mentioned in our Beautiful Beaches article, Dr. Beach rated Grayton Beach as the best beach in America in 2020!
However, the beach itself is only one of many exciting things Grayton Beach State Park offers. For hikers, the park has over four miles of trails through coastal forest areas to explore. Campers will indeed be happy with the campground’s overnight accommodations, with choices to set up camp yourself or stay in one of the park’s cabins. Lastly, there is ample opportunity to go out onto Western Lake and enjoy the serene atmosphere while fishing, paddling, or simply relaxing in silence.
Camp Helen State Park
Camp Helen State Park is one of those places that really doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The reason is that the uniqueness and the true value of the park can be lost on the casual observer.
Initially purchased by Robert E. Hicks as a family summer retreat, this 185-acre property was subsequently sold to Avondale Textile Mills as a resort for vacationing employees, at which point it was named “Camp Helen.” This name remains to this day, having survived the transition into becoming a state park.
Camp Helen State Park offers plenty of things to do, such as hiking, boating, fishing, and fire in designated areas. However, in this particular park, overnight stays and camping are not permitted. If you are interested in looking at the historic lodge and other buildings, they have recently undergone renovations and are available for public viewing. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Camp Helen State Park is the diverse ecology of the area. There are five distinct, separate ecosystems in the park, which can be observed quickly by simply walking through Camp Helen.
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