A nice vacation for my wife and I has been a long time coming. With our four young kids, we’ve been unable to leave them until now. With a friend’s wedding in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, we slipped out for a long weekend of fun and adventure.

As is typical, I like to seek out some of the local trails to get a taste for the mountain biking, trail running and hiking options in the area. With a hotel in Ft. Walton Beach, I looked close by and was able to locate the vast Timberlake Bike Trail System:

Though the process for accessing the trails as a tourist is a bit of a hassle, the payoff was well worth it. Here’s the skinny to access these trails:

  1. Visit the Jackson Guard Natural Resources office – view map
  2. Pay for a pass (Currently $12 per year per person or $1 per person per day for special use passes)
  3. Watch a 5 minute video on munitions safety (I guess people can find spent or live munitions in the training area)
  4. Proceed to the Timberlake area with pass in-hand

Timberlake Bike Trails… Worth It?

While I didn’t actually bike these trails, I was impressed with their overall quality. We took the opportunity to hit a quick trail run since we were sans bikes and really thoroughly enjoyed the area. Our run started out at the Timberlake Trailhead where we took Gator Alley to Stinky Creek, which took us to Timber Lake. From there, we watched turtles soak up the sun and proceeded back to our vehicle via the Homebound trail.

To view the run, visit MapMyTracks.com.

I was envisioning how these trails would ride and all things considered, I think they would be a blast for high-speed cranking. Since there are only a few small rises here-and-there, the pace could be pretty rapid for an uptempo workout. The terrain is mostly soft and tacky dirt with some patches of sand and exposed roots in between.

The bike of choice for these trails would be a hardtail 29er if I were to pick something. Some of the trails were a bit overgrown (especially Homebound), so watch out for branches and small trees as you snake your way through the forest. There are a few trail reviews at MTBR.com as well and I’ve been told to stop in at Dragon Sports for the local scoop.

If you have a vacation planned for the Ft. Walton/Destin area, check out the Timberlake Trail System… you’ll be glad you did.

More Info: Contact Jackson Guard Natural Resources

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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