Pensacola Area Walking, Running, & Hiking Trails
No matter what season, there's no better time to get moving and active than the present. Developing a fitness routine has many physical and mental health benefits and can be a fun social activity. Don't worry, you don't have to cancel your workout routine when on vacation. Exploring walking trails or parks in the city is a great way to stay active when traveling.
The Gulf Coast is home to comfortable weather year-round and gorgeous nature scenery, from beaches to parks. If you're visiting the Pensacola area, you can get your daily activity at one of these parks or walking trails. If you bring the family along, there are several ways to sight-see or check out unique wildlife. Here are a few places to get moving and stay active in Pensacola:
Pensacola Bay Bridge/Three Mile Bridge
Arguably, one of the most popular exercise trails in Pensacola is the Pensacola Bay Bridge. You may have heard the Pensacola Bay Bridge referred to as the "three-mile bridge," which connects Pensacola to Gulf Breeze. The bridge has recently opened a 10-foot-wide pedestrian walking, jogging, and biking pathway with scenic views of Pensacola Bay and seating areas.
Measuring three miles one way and three miles back, cyclists, walkers, and joggers flock to the bridge to get their workouts in as they can easily tack on the miles.
You've probably seen joggers and cyclists weaving through the streets along with casual walkers at any given place in downtown Pensacola. Downtown has plenty of spaces to get moving, like Maritime park, Palafox Street, and along the bay. The city sidewalks are great places to walk, jog, bike, and rack up some miles by exploring the streets of Pensacola.
If you like exercising as a social activity, you're in luck. There are gyms and cycling studios downtown for those who prefer an indoor workout and social groups that meet up frequently to jog together. For a more casual scene, the patrons of shops and restaurants in the area can quickly accrue steps just by strolling the streets.
Photo from Palafox PL on Facebook
If you're looking for a way to shake up your walking or jogging routine, the beach is calling you! Pensacola Beach has been ranked as one of the top beaches in the country by USA today, and it's easy to see why. The Gulf Coast is home to sugary white sands, emerald waters, and a slower pace of life. With several parks along Pensacola Beach, there are more than enough places to go for a walk or jog along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Across the boardwalk, cyclists will find sidewalks to use for riding. The bike paths along Pensacola Beach provide an easy to get your activity in while taking in the coastal scenery. If you prefer a more relaxing way to stay active on the beach, try picking up seashells, swimming, or paddling in the water.
Hiking and Exploring Trails
Fort Pickens is a must-stop when visiting Pensacola Beach. Fort Pickens was built in the 1800s as a coastal fort to protect the Gulf Coast from overseas enemies. While the fort was no longer in use after World War II, today, it is a great place to explore and learn a bit of history while in Pensacola. The park offers souvenirs, a gift shop, maps, and exhibits.
Aside from the historical significance to the city, Fort Pickens is a popular spot for visitors to get active. Walking and sight-seeing can help you get your steps in while learning about this Pensacola landmark. The park is also an excellent place for bikers, walkers and joggers.
With Fort Pickens being on the Gulf, you can easily head over to Park West beach access and go for a swim, surf, paddle board, or relax on the shores of Pensacola Beach.
Bay Bluffs Park
If you're looking for a scenic waterfront hike, you should put Bay Bluffs Park on your list of places to visit. Bay Bluffs Park is located on Scenic Highway in Pensacola, where Escambia Bay Feeds into Pensacola Bay. This preserve protects 26 acres of steeply sloped land. Locals love swimming in the bay, having picnics, and walking along the rocks and railroad tracks right by the water. While most of this trail is only about half of a mile long on the boardwalk, the steep staircases will have you working up a sweat!
Big Lagoon State Park
One of the best places to explore wildlife in the Pensacola area is Big Lagoon State Park, located in Southwest Pensacola. This park is known for swimming, boating, fishing, camping, and paddling, and it also has a boardwalk for running, walking, or hiking through nature.
Big Lagoon State Park beckons kayakers with access to the beginning or end of a 1,515-mile sea kayaking journey on the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail around the entire state. Kayaking is a great way to stay active while exploring Florida's unique wildlife. In addition to the scenic boardwalk and kayak path, Big Lagoon State Park is also part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Park visitors can get their steps in, all while spotting unique birds and wildlife species native to Florida.
Photo credits to Gary Oliver Photography.
Published by Emily Seay
Friday, January 13, 2023
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