Point Washington State Forest was purchased under Florida's Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) Program in 1992. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Forest Service was given lead management responsibility for the Point Washington State Forest. Using an ecosystem management approach the Florida Forest Service provides for multiple uses of the forest resources which include timber management, wildlife management, outdoor recreation and ecological restoration.
Point Washington State Forest is located in the southernmost portion of Walton County. The forest is approximately 9 miles south of the town of Freeport on U.S. Highway 98. Vehicular travel is allowed throughout the forest on open forest roads. Please refrain from blocking any closed roads or fire breaks.
Point Washington State Forest has 10 natural communities that can be found throughout the forest. The majority of the area consists of sandhill, basin swamps/Titi drains, wet flatwoods, wet prairie and cypress swamps. Although much of Point Washington State Forest has been cut over, there are some excellent examples of intact sandhill ecosystems.
Several plants and animals that are listed as threatened, endangered or species of special concern exist on the Point Washington State Forest. Some of these rare species include: American kestrel (Falco sparverius), gopher tortoise, flatwoods salamander, white-topped pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla) and the world's largest population of Curtiss sandgrass (Calamovilfa curtissii).
An important management tool used on the Point Washington State Forest is the prescribed burning program. The use of controlled fire in managing timber, wildlife and ecological resources on Point Washington State Forest is necessary for the Florida Forest Service to fulfill its goal of protecting and managing Florida's forest resources. Objectives of the prescribed burning program include reducing fuel loads (undergrowth), diminishing hazardous conditions, and maintaining biodiversity.
Point Washington State Forest is available to the public for various types of natural-resource based outdoor recreation. The forest is widely used for hunting, off-road bicycling and hiking.
Point Washington State Forest is part of the Point Washington Wildlife Management Area. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulates the hunting seasons and game limits on the forest.
The Eastern Lake Trail System was the first trail established on the forest. This trail system consists of 3 double track loop trails. The hiker or bicyclist can travel the 3.5, 5 or 10 mile loop. The Eastern Lake Bike/Hike Trail is included in the Florida Forest Service's Trailwalker Hiking Program. Access to the trail system is located at the parking lot and trail head on County Road 395.
In addition, a green way trail system that crosses the forest is being developed. This trail will provide connections to Grayton Beach State Park, Deer Lake State Park, Topsail Hill State Preserve, Butler Elementary School and numerous residential developments. Upon completion, this trail system will provide over 27 miles of trails for recreational use.
Overnight camping is available at Eastern Lake Campground which is located near the 4 mile marker on the Eastern Lake Trail. There are four primitive campsites. The area is ideal for paddlers and paddle boarders to access Eastern Lake and paddle south to the beach and Gulf of Mexico. Camping reservations are available by contacting (850) 547-7083 or the forest at (850) 267-8325.
In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida's forest resources, the Florida Forest Service has developed rules which apply to all State Forest visitors. Find out more about state forest fees and rules.