The week before Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida panhandle, our family enjoyed a vacation at the beach. We enjoyed playing games in the cabin as a family. The girls and I ventured onto the beach for the beautiful sunrises. But one of the highlights of our week was exploring the nature trail.
After breakfast on Tuesday, my husband and I scouted out the trail. Since the kids declined to join us, they had the privilege of cleaning up around the cabin. We enjoyed the nature trail so much, we insisted the kids hike it with us the next day.
The best time to explore the short trail is within an hour or two after sunrise. The angle of the sun has a magical effect on the varied surroundings.
The variety of ecosystems between the ocean and the freshwater lake fascinated us. Signs along the way introduced us to plants like sea oats and slash pine as well as a variety of wildlife.
By the beach, the trail was sandy. Nearby, Gulf fritillary butterflies sipped nectar from the many flowers along the path.
Imagine our surprise when the trail disappeared into a tunnel of trees!
Several of the trees were bent in interesting directions. A few were the perfect height for climbing.
The view on the other side of the tree-lined passageway surprised us. Ahead of us lay the freshwater lake.
The trail soon turned south then looped through a forested area. We turned left to follow the loop counterclockwise. Leaves and twigs covered the trail.
The scenery soon changed again. Saw palmettos abounded.
Some of their roots were tripping hazards on the trail.
Where the ground may have been too marshy to accommodate hiking, a short boardwalk provided a level path.
Leaving the boardwalk, we continued along the dirt trail and found bright yellow flowers growing on a vine.
Before we knew it, we had completed the loop. A branch full of berries stretched over the trail.
Continuing on, we retraced our steps past the lake, through the tree tunnel, and across the sand to the trailhead.
The second time we hiked the trail, it did not seem as magical as the first. Was it because it was already familiar to us? Did it have something to do with the entourage of kids that joined us? Or was it simply because we were an hour later venturing down the trail?
Even so, we made some new discoveries on the second day we hiked. Starting out, we spotted small white flowers growing in the sand.
The kids also pointed out a purple flower I had overlooked the first time through.
My fourteen-year-old daughter used her close-up lens to capture some amazing shots of the flora. Aren’t they amazing?
I hope that Hurricane Michael has not damaged this beautiful trail. My husband and I loved exploring its unique beauty.
Did you enjoy exploring the Grayton Beach Nature Trail with us? If you liked reading about our short hike, check out my blog post about hiking Pine Mountain Trail near Cartersville, GA.