Fall is the perfect time of year to plan a trip to Big Lagoon State Park, located just 10 miles southwest of Pensacola, Fl near Perdido Key. This 655 acre park has just about something for everyone; camping, hiking, fishing, bird-watching, canoeing, swimming, biking, and sightseeing. Take in the view with a climb of the three-story observation tower perched on the edge of the intracoastal waterway or explore Big Lagoon by kayak. This park doesn’t disappoint.
Because there’s so many different things to do it might be difficult to decide on what to do first, and in fact it might be a good idea to plan to spend a couple of days exploring. If time is limited however, plan on hiking or cycling early in the morning when its cooler and save other activities for later in the afternoon. Make sure to pack a picnic lunch or something for the grill.
The distances between some of the activities, such as campground to tower or amphitheater, may be a bit far for some to tackle, but a leisurely bike or car ride will cover the distance and provide an opportunity to spot some of the park’s other inhabitants such as white-tail deer, marsh rabbits or armadillo. A side-trip to Long Pond might even reward nature buffs with an alligator sighting but tread quietly because this gator spooks easily.
Big Lagoon’s proximity to Gulf access is an added bonus and makes it a popular destination with fishermen. Anglers can choose to fish the grass flats for trout, flounder and redfish or venture out into the Gulf through the pass to try for larger gamefish. There is ample parking at both the boat ramp and kayak launch to accommodate even the busiest fishing day.
Hiking is another popular activity at the park and there are multiple trails to explore. Be sure to wear proper footwear and carry plenty of water. The terrain is a combination of coastal scrub, marsh and pine flatwoods. Temperatures during the summer months can get quite uncomfortable so its best to hike during the cooler parts of the day. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration and respond accordingly. Florida’s heat and humidity can tax even the most experienced hiker.
Big Lagoon State Park is located at 12301 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola, Florida 32507 and is open from 8 a.m. to sundown year-round. Admission at time of publication is $4 for single occupant vehicle or $6 for vehicles with 2-6 passengers. Visit the park’s website for information regarding boat launch fees and camping information.