What better way to start your Panama City Beach adventure than at one of the top nature preserves in the city, Conservation Park. This 2,900 acre expansive green space is located behind US 98 on Conservation Drive, an area featuring vast woodland areas with miles of hiking trails located within. This place is truly a hiker's, biker's, and nature lover's paradise, with 24 miles of trails, one mile of boardwalk, 2,000 acres of wildlife-filled wetlands, and 900 acres of exquisite uplands. The purpose of this park is to protect and balance the area’s native natural resources while providing an ample amount of publicly available outdoor recreation opportunities. This is done quite well within this West Bay Ecosystem, as your group will see upon arrival!
Be sure to bring binoculars or a camera to have optimal wildlife viewing opportunities while here, many local species are highly attracted to the wetland. Speaking of which, one of the main reasons for attention/popularity here is the project underway to re-hydrate the wetlands. In the past a pine plantation/tree farm was placed here, drying out the Choctawahatcee Bay ultimately further than the ecosystem could handle. Now there is an intense removal and reintroduction of certain species in the area, bringing freely-roaming wildlife all day long. Take any of the 12 different trails, from 0.6 to 11 miles long, to see this up close and personal, or stick with the most popular 1.8 mile Green Trail, a local favorite. Before you go be sure to check out the 4,400 square foot shelter at the end of the park with a cypress wood framed porch, a place for meeting, reception, interpretive information, and park guest amenities. Located on the former Baxley homestead this building provides an educational outdoor classroom as well as several picnic pavilions.