Twenty years have passed since Scenic 30-A was designated as a Florida Scenic Highway, and the vision set forth by the Friends of 30-A has been fully implemented. Scenic 30-A has maintained its beautiful two-lane scenic drive, not only for passengers in vehicles, but for pedestrians and cyclists alike. The vivid greenery of State Parks and woodlands is a natural backdrop for majestic sand dunes and rare coastal dune lakes along the Gulf of Mexico.
Travelers on Scenic 30-A easily find their way using the signature wayfinding system established years ago. The signage is easy to read, well maintained, and ties in with an overall directional sign system created by Walton County Tourist Development Council. The significance of the Scenic 30-A corridor and its resources transcends the typical American driving experience. Local history, culture, and natural environments are clearly identified, creating an immediate and compelling experience for travelers. Education about the distinct character of the surrounding landscapes and beach communities instills greater public confidence and a desire to define, understand, and protect what travelers enjoy.
Visitors and residents bike down the well-maincured Timpoochee Trail and pass by benches placed along the trail for those who want only to observe. Travelers stop at a kiosk to pick up maps, take a drink of water, and visit with other trail users. The map show the distance and directions to the next stop, and the location of significant resources along the way. The beauty of a rare coastal dune lake is announced by signature planting and is framed by glistening white sandy dunes. The ocean breeze and the smell of the salt air consumes one’s senses. A wooden bridge crosses the dune lake where interpretive signs on the trail explain the significance of sensitive dune lakes and their inhabitants. People kayaking and canoeing skim across the lake and wave spontaneously to onlookers. A group of school-age children learn about the surrounding environments as they gather on the lake overlook for an outdoor classroom.
Trail users feel safe because the pathway is separated from the vehicle travel lane. Cars cruise down Scenic 30-A, slowing down at the clearly marked pedestrian crossings. The traffic on Scenic 30-A is flowing evenly, following well-marked traffic signs and wayfinding signs for points of interest. A quiet, clean, and comfortable transit system carries people along Scenic 30-A , connecting the 12 beach hamlets with the area’s stores, restaurants, and parks.
The scenic corridor’s roadways and trails are free of trash and litter. Trash and recycling receptacles have been placed at strategic locations along the scenic highway. Residents and visitors recognize the natural beauty of the area and do not want to disturb it with litter.
As water became more scarce, the governing officials adopted a xeric landscape ordinance requiring drought tolerant native plants in common areas and public rights-of-way along the corridors of Scenic 30-A. You know you are in a special place because the vegetation is native and water is conserved by residents and guests alike.
As an additional surprise, travelers may enter a dirt trail that leads to the Point Washington State Forest. Bikes travel over the dusty trails through an area that contains hundreds of acres of preserved forest land and is home to numerous rare plants and animals. The end of the natural trail connects to the paved section of Timpoochee Trail, where you find the historic community of Grayton Beach. A local sign provides a written and graphical story of the town, and directs you to a historic district of homes and small-town stores. Residents were concerned about light pollution, and because of their efforts to protect the night skies , sunset viewing is a common ritual to catch a glimpse of the shimmering aquamarine waters of the Gulf under the moonlight. Travelers can walk down the raised boardwalk to the beach or choose another path on Scenic 30-A for more hidden treasures.
The unique characteristics and natural resources of Scenic 30-A were recognized early on by residents and guests, and as a result the entire corridor was preserved. Many generations will come to enjoy the very wonders that inspired this community 20 years ago. This scenic piece of Florida is treasured by all.