While Pensacola may be most famous for its sugar-sand beaches, the city also boasts incredible trails fit for the most adventurous among us. From a hike through an archaeological site to the only beachfront segment of a National Scenic Trail in the country, experience the area’s rugged side and check out these scenic Pensacola trails.

1. Bay Bluffs Park

beach at bay bluffs park
Bay Bluffs Park | Photo courtesy of chapstickaddict

Located along Scenic Highway, Bay Bluffs Park invites you not only to to hike, walk, run, and bicycle but also to boat, fish, picnic, bird watch, shop, and eat. The best part is that you’ll have spectacular views of the water all the while!

2. Edward Ball Nature Trail

nature trail pensacola
Edward Ball Nature Trail boardwalk | Photo courtesy of BuddhaDog

It may be hard to imagine that one of the best spots for birding could be found in the middle of University of West Florida’s campus. But the Edward Ball Nature Trail is just that! Immerse yourself in nature like never before as you walk the half-mile stretch of boardwalk across Thompson’s Creek, a hardwood swamp. Admire the colorful blooms of mountain laurel and listen to the songbirds while you take a quiet moment for contemplation.

3. Big Lagoon Trail

Boardwalk in Big Lagoon State Park
Bridge in Big Lagoon State Park | Photo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife

A four-story observation tower is the perfect way to take in the scenery and wildlife at Big Lagoon State Park, but five miles of hiking trails and a two-and-a-half-mile park drive for bicycling are even better for exploring the surroundings firsthand.

4. Perdido Bay Trail

Sunset over Perdido Bay
Sunset over Perdido Bay | Photo courtesy of Luke

Home to four endangered and 100 rare plant species, this park features the Tarkiln Bayou Trail, a half-mile trail consisting of sidewalks and elevated boardwalk that meanders through prairie, cypress, and titi forests. For a longer hike, hit the Perdido Bay Trail, a six-and-a-half-mile trail that offers access to lovely beaches. Hobby botanists and biologists will go nuts here with 100 rare plants and animals to be seen, including the carnivorous white-top pitcher plant.

5. Juniper Creek Trail

hike at Blackwater River State Park
Blackwater River State Park | Photo courtesy of Ebyabe

Tour 600 acres of undisturbed natural land and one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the country in Blackwater River State Park. The Juniper Creek Trail runs just under nine miles, and visitors have the opportunity to see the largest and oldest Atlantic white cedar, recognized as a Florida champion tree.

6. The Florida Trail, the Seashore Section

ocean view of Navarre Beach
Navarre Beach | Photo courtesy of M.M.Meeks

The Florida National Scenic Trail is a 1,000-mile trail through all of Florida. The Seashore section is 32.3 miles of amazingly white sand along Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach that wraps up around Fort Pickens on Pensacola Bay. Take it in sections or backpack the whole thing!

7. Clear Creek Nature Trail

Red Florida anise flower
Florida anise | Photo courtesy of Philip Bouchard

While this trail is only one and a half miles round-trip, you’ll experience all types of habitats, including freshwater swamp and marshy wetlands, pine stands, riparian ecosystems, and mixed hardwood forests. Admire the white-topped pitcher plants in spring and the red blooms of the Florida anise.

8. Arcadia Mill Boardwalk & Nature Trails

Arcadia Mill Boardwalk
Arcadia Mill Boardwalk | Photo courtesy of Ebyabe

History buffs and amateur archeologists who don’t feel like a strenuous hike will enjoy a walk around Arcadia Mill’s interpretive boardwalk that’s a quarter of a mile long and surrounds the remains of an old mill facility. The ADA-accessible bridge over Pond Creek leads to a mile of nature trails and a shaded picnic area.

Featured image courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife

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Author: Hannah Morrison

Hannah hails from Telluride, CO and currently lives in Portland, where she works as writer, editor, and unofficial resident poet for Team Vacasa. You'll often find Hannah singing and dancing down the sidewalk, making really tall sandwiches, and planning her next long run.