Topsail Hill Sand Dunes – Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Beautiful sand dunes in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

© Scott Holstein – All rights reserved.

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The Making of the Topsail Hill Sand Dunes Fine Art Image

I used to photograph regularly across the Florida panhandle and the Emerald Coast, including in Santa Rosa Beach. However, I had not been out this way in years.

I remembered there being beautiful sand dunes in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, in the vicinity of Morris Lake, a rare coastal dune lake. It used to be that you could drive to an access point right on the east side of Morris Lake. However, that road has since been closed to public traffic to allow for the wetlands to flow over the unpaved road. These days, you have to hoof it in on one of the various trails to access the Morris Lake hiking trail.

I hiked to Morris Lake one afternoon and explored the trail. A large flock of white birds were entertaining themselves on the lake, floating on the water together and then flying in fluid formation over the lake. In the dunes, I saw some remnants of the military’s activity in the area during World War II.

I encountered white-tailed deer back in the more forested section of the dunes in the southwest corner of Topsail Hill state park.

As I continued on the loop trail, the sun was getting low toward the horizon. It was golden hour, when the shadows lengthen and the light has that golden-warmth to it. The trail crested a dune, where I set up the tripod and created this image of the dunes and scrub flora. Due to my high vantage point, the Gulf of Mexico was able to peek from between the dunes.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is a 1,640-acre state park in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. It features a variety of habitats, including coastal dune lakes, wetlands, pine flats, and secluded beaches.

Topsail Hill is named for one of the sand dunes in the park, which are as high as 25 feet. It has 3.2 miles of pristine, white sand beaches along the Emerald Coast. The preserve also contains three of the area’s rare coastal dune lakes, including Morris Lake and Campbell Lake.

The Florida state park has cabins for rent and campgrounds.


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