Lake Powell is the largest coastal dune lake in Florida and North America covering almost 800 acres. The lake surrounds the north and east side of Camp Helen State Park providing the park with a very extraordinary natural resource. Lake Powell has also been honored with an “Outstanding Florida Waters” designation.
Coastal dune lakes are very rare and precious freshwater ecosystems. These lakes are only found in a few locations around the world. They are in New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar, and in the United States along the coasts of Oregon, South Carolina and Northwest Florida.
Lake Powell has a channel, known as an outfall, that runs into the Gulf of Mexico. Depending on the tides and winds, saltwater from the Gulf may enter the lake when the outfall is open. It is common to find different saltwater species alongside freshwater species in the lake. The mixture of these two waters (salt and fresh) create what is called brackish water.
Many visitors ask why the water in the lake is brown and if it is sanitary. The coloring of the water is not to be feared. Natural organic material from leaves falling into the lake and different minerals create the brown hue which are referred to as “tannins.” This condition is completely natural, think of it as tea leaves being soaked in water!
The lake is a prime location for many activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, bird watching, nature study, hiking, and both freshwater and saltwater fishing. In Florida, always be observant of your surroundings for different wild life, especially in the water. Coastal dune lakes are pristine environments and should be treated with care. Please pick up your trash and leave nothing behind.