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Hiking Guide: Conservation Park, Panama City Beach Florida

Updated: Sep 27

Conservation Park has 12 different trails to choose from for hiking, walking, biking, or running! Throughout 24 miles of trails in pine forests and wetlands, there's a good chance you'll see or hear some of Florida's wildlife. The twelve different trails at Conservation Park intersect and cross points at many points, so you can create your own routes. Escape from the beachfront city and explore Conservation Park!

Just one mile to the west of back beach road is 2,900 acres which is Conservation Park. You'll smell the towering long-leaf pine trees as you drive down the winding road entering the park. This is unlike the beachfront and bustling Florida most people imagine.

As with any hike, make sure to bring enough water, bug spray, and sunscreen. You should keep in mind that the Florida Panhandle is home to black bears, wild boars, alligators, and a variety of snakes. Not all of Florida's wildlife is "scary", the sound of birds and frogs fills the humid air. Throughout my many visits to Conservation Park, I have yet to have any encounters with any dangerous wildlife.

When you arrive at the park there's a public restroom, bike repair station, and water fountain for you and your furry friend. Dogs are allowed on leash, with a limit of two dogs per person.

My favorite trail at Conservation Park is an unofficial route that creates a 1.5-mile "Figure 8 loop". This path includes the Walt Oberst Way, Conservation Trail, Cyprus Pond Trail, and Osprey Trail. This "figure 8 loop" is a flat trail over gravel, boardwalk, and dirt paths.

From the trailhead, I recommend taking a left toward the Gazebo. This begins with a short gravel path until you reach the boardwalk. This is the Walt Oberst Way (0.3 miles), a handicap-accessible path. There's a bench at the beginning of the trail where you can stare out into the swamp and question if that "log" really did just move or not.

At the end of the Walt Oberst Way is a small connecting trail, Conservation Trail (0.14 miles). This is really just a dirt path connecting two trails. At the end of Conservation Trail is a junction where either turn will lead you to Cypress Pond Trail.

The Cypress Pond Trail would be 4.7 miles if you were to complete the loop as intended, it is a flat gravel path that is popular with cyclists and runners. If you take a right turn it will be 0.23 miles until you reach the main parking lot and bathrooms where you began your hike. You could end your hike here, which is a total distance of 0.67 miles, or you could turn left on Osprey Trail. From the Osprey Trail and back onto Cypress Pond Trail is an additional 0.83 miles and is the final "loop" in this figure-eight route.

All along this trail are various signs for plants and wildlife with informative plants. Did you know that longleaf pine trees take 30 years to mature? The sounds and sights of Florida's native cypress swamps and pine forests are all around you. Despite the wildlife that calls this preserved ecosystem home, there are typically more people here than anything else! I enjoy the peace and solitude that the many trails of Conservation Park have to offer. This park is a great place for many outdoor activities for everyone.

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