When I moved to Florida in the summer of 2015, Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou was the very first park I visited. Since then, I have been back numerous times, working my way through their “30 Things to Discover at Rocky Bayou State Park” list.
On my most recent visit, I determined to check off a few more activities. First up: #6, “Play on the Playground.”
Sure, I am technically an adult. But I love a good playground as much as anyone! This one is surrounded by picnic tables and close to the bayou, perfect for families with energetic children bouncing from one activity to another. Taking a few minutes to swing on the swingset, I pumped higher and higher, ever closer to the Northern Cardinals and Northern Mockingbirds singing at me from trees nearby.
The park includes many amenities, including a boat launch, picnic pavilions, and campsites. One of my favorites is the Rocky Bayou Fitness Trail, and by using the sit up and pull up stations, I effectively crossed off #13: “Exercise on the Rocky Bayou Fitness Trail.”
Not all of the list items are related to play or fitness; some invited me to stop for a moment, taking in my beautiful surroundings. #5 and #15 I did together by “Sitting in a Chair at the Water’s Edge” and “Reading a Book by the Bayou.” Rocky Bayou has been designated as an aquatic preserve, and from my vantage point on a wooden bench I wiggled my toes in the sandy beach, watched Osprey as they circled overhead, and listen to the wind as it rustled both the tree leaves and blossoms reaching towards the sun.
As my last act for the day, I checked off an additional two activities together: “Hike a Nature Trail” and “Take Pictures,” #23 and #27. There are three nature trails in all, showcasing the flora and fauna of Northwest Florida. Saw Palmettos formed the majority of the understory, Deer Moss covering the ground in its blue-green color where the forest remained open. Many Spanish Magnolias lined the trail with their dark, waxy leaves, and in some areas Red Cedars are so beautiful that one entire trail has been designated as “The Red Cedar Trail.” As this post attests, I took plenty of pictures!
I love when I can re-visit parks and discover new facets of the environment with their borders. I saved my list, and next time will aim for #6, “Spot a Mullet Jumping out of the Water;” #11, “Picnic in the Park;” #28, “Go Fishing,” and so much more!
Watch Erika’s adventure on YouTube and learn more about Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
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About Erika: Erika Z. is a writer, birder and photographer living and working along the Emerald Coast of Florida. Her love of the outdoors and sense of adventure leads her to explore Florida’s state parks, state trails and historic sites in her free time.