Green Wave Forum

Lake Powell Report
(Lake Powell at Camp Helen SP)

View: More Lake Powell reports, Northwest FL Locations 

Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 5/13/2009 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 13 photos     Map & Directions: View

Lake Powell is one of the largest coastal dune lakes in existance. It is fed by several streams on the north and western end and empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

My Report:

In my Freshwater Wetlands module of the Master Naturalist Class, I learned of a unique type of lake that is only present in 5 places in the world, and the area along the Gulf of Mexico encompassing western Bay County and Walton County is one of those places. Two of my classmates were responsible for helping establish and work with a local organization to protect the environment and Lake Powell, so I was eager to see this lake, and what better way to get a look than to paddle.

Here are two quotes that describe coastal dune lakes: "...."globally rare and imperiled (S1/G2) by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). .....Similar ecosystems can only be found in the Florida Panhandle, Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand and the Northwest Pacific Coast of the United States."

"A coastal dune lake is unique in that it opens, at intervals of Mother Nature's whim, joining the lake and the Gulf of Mexico. This creates an ecosystem filled with flora, fauna and wildlife that is unique and exciting to scientists. Lake Powell borders the west side of the Carillon Beach property. It is the largest coastal dune lake in the state of Florida (767 acres) and was declared a 'Pristine Florida Waterway' over ten years ago. As such, it is a protected and coveted waterway and a great place to water ski, fish, and enjoy a leisurely boat ride"

So when my classmates planned a picnic at Camp Helen State Park and asked if I planned to attend, I said I would attend and bring my canoe to paddle the lake. Since the State Park does not have a boat ramp, one of the parties sponsors arranged for me to have some help getting my canoe from the parking lot, over to the steps and down to the lake. I am going to say that those two handsome young men tended to that task promptly and I tagged cheerfully behind them down to the lake.

It was windy, and canoes aren't well equiped to paddle open water in the wind. I chose to paddle east over to the opening to the Gulf and once I got into that section, it resembled a stream and I was protected from the wind by the sand dunes. On each side there were protected areas of dunes for nesting shore birds. Paddling back to the park I took a detour and went under a foot bridge and into a brackish area. It was lined with cattails, a sign of disturbance and unnatural development.

I found a better spot for launching paddling craft on Lake Powell than Camp Helen. Travel west on US 98 from Panama City Beach and after one has passed through Laguana Beach look for a sign for Powell Lake Park and Boat Ramp. Turn right on Lake Powell Drive and left on Lake View Drive. There is nice park with a paved boat ramp, and one can drive right down to the water to unload boats. Several of my class mates have paddled Lake Powell in kayaks, and that is the type of craft best suited for this paddle.

Get Map & Directions for this trip

Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: Lake
Boat Type: Kayak
Fees/Costs $: $2.00 per vehicle

Photos from Lake Powell at Camp Helen SP:    (Click image to view full size)

L. Powell Boat Ramp No Comm
L. Powell Boat Ramp

This is the modern boat ramp at Lake Powell Park and Boat Ramp.

Swimming Area No Comm
Swimming Area

This swimming area is in the Lake Powell Park,

Lake Powell Scene No Comm
Lake Powell Scene

Looking north from the Lake Powell Boat Ramp.

Out toward the Gulf No Comm
Out toward the Gulf

this is a scene taken as I was paddling toward the Gulf of Mexico on Lake Powell from Camp Helen State Park

Dune Restoration No Comm
Dune Restoration
Getting Fish Bait No Comm
Getting Fish Bait

The long white pole is used to suck up Ghost Shrimp from the wet sand and use them for fish bait.

Getting Fish Bait II No Comm
Getting Fish Bait II

This person is netting small fish to use for bait.

Foot Bridge No Comm
Foot Bridge

This is the foot bridge for a park trail to the Gulf of Mexico. One has to walk .6 of a mile to reach open water.

Coral Bean No Comm
Coral Bean

Coral Bean plants were growing on the area beside the launching spot at Camp Helen State Park

Twisted Trunks No Comm
Twisted Trunks

The oak trees show evidence of the wind stress they have endured close to the water.

Can You See Me? No Comm
Can You See Me?

The Eastern Fence Lizard has wonderful protective coloration, although he has bright blue on his underside.

Can You See Me? No Comm
Can You See Me?

The Lizard blends into the bark of the oak tree.

US 98 Bridge No Comm
US 98 Bridge

Paddling back toward the park with a view of US 98 Bridge.

Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsSwimming in the Gulf of Mexico at Camp Helen State Park and in Lake Helen at Lake Helen Park and Boat Ramp.

Post Date: 5/13/2009

Go to paddlesolo's Trip JournalMore Trips and Comments on Lake Powell
More Northwest FL LocationsView Regions

Notice: Reported conditions may change and there may be errors in this text. Green Wave Forum and author(s) of individual reports shall not be held liable for any omissions and inaccuracies contained herein. Readers are cautioned to supplement reports with other sources of information when planning a trip.