The Best Family-Friendly Hikes In and Around Pensacola, FL

Published on June 16, 2022 - Updated on June 16, 2022

The Pensacola area is well known for its pristine beaches but Northwest Florida is so much more than white sand and emerald waters. The region contains a spectacular diversity of plants and animals, and with miles of paved and unpaved trails and boardwalks, it’s easy to “get lost” in the woods and connect with nature. Here is a list of family-friendly hiking areas that we love to visit.

Big Lagoon State Park

12301 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola, FL 32507

Big Lagoon State Park

This park offers five miles of hiking and nature trails in three distinct areas. Choose one area or connect them all to make one big loop. Roam the extensive coastal forest and climb the three-story observation tower for a spectacular view of Big Lagoon and Perdido Key.

Tarklin Bayou Preserve State Park

2401 Bauer Road, Pensacola, FL 32507

Tarklin Bayou

At over 4,000 acres, Tarkiln Bayou Preserve is home to many rare and endangered plant and animal species. Two hiking areas are available at the preserve. The easy Tarkiln Bayou trail is only one-mile round trip, is ADA accessible, and offers a scenic view of the bayou. The Perdido Bay trail is a rugged 6.5-mile trail and provides access to the bayshore beaches.

Naval Live Oaks Area

1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze, FL 32501

Naval Live Oaks Trail

This park is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and encompasses areas on both the north and south side of the highway. There are 7.5 miles of hiking trails within the park including the fully accessible Brackenridge Trail. The Andrew-Jackson Trail is a true piece of history as it is a remnant of the first federal highway in Florida known as the Pensacola-St. Augustine Road. Visitors will also enjoy beautiful views of the Santa Rosa Sound and Pensacola Bay.

University of West Florida Trails

11000 University Parkway, Pensacola, FL 32514

Edward Ball Nature Trail UWF

The campus of UWF hosts a variety of public hiking and biking trails each varying in length and level of difficulty. The Edward Ball Nature Trail is an easy family-friendly boardwalk that crosses Thompson’s Bayou. The hardwood swamp is home to a variety of birds and waterfowl, and you may even catch an occasional glimpse of an alligator!

Blackwater River State Park

7720 Deaton Bridge Road, Holt, FL 32564

Blackwater River State Park

Get lost in 600 acres of the largest adjoining longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem remaining in the world. Blackwater River State Park features three trail walking opportunities totaling almost 4.5 miles. Follow the Juniper Lake trail for breathtaking views of Blackwater River which is normally a transparent golden-brown when seen against the white sandbars.

What are your favorite Pensacola area spots? Have you done any of the hikes on the list? Be sure to tag us on Instagram with any of your family's adventures @gethappyly.

Interested in other fun activities that will get the kids outside? Check out our list of The Best Parks and Playgrounds In and Around Pensacola. Try to Build a Bug Hotel in your backyard or hit the water and try Stand Up Paddle Boarding with your family!

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Thoughtfully captured by:
Kristen Anderson
I am a work from home Mom of two girls and a proud military spouse. We are grateful to be living our dream on the beautiful Gulf Coast in Northwest Florida. We love staying active and spend most of our time enjoying the outdoors and everything that our area has to offer.
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