Where Hiking & The Beach Meet: The Bay Bluffs
With its abundance of parks and open spaces, The City of Pensacola has much to offer nature enthusiasts and athletes alike. The Bay Bluffs park, located on Scenic Highway near East Pensacola Heights and the Cordova Park area, features 42 acres of woodlands trails and beaches and offers an array of activities throughout the year for local residents and tourists.
Long before the area was developed, the Bay Bluffs Park and surrounding area was home to the Yamassee Indians, who benefited from the fresh seafood and natural defense of the elevated land. The trail used by these Native Americans came to be used by the colonists who settled Pensacola, and was later paved in 1929 and officially named Highway 90, also known as Scenic Highway. The roadway became known as the first scenic highway of Florida in April of 1998, and is a unique historical and ecological feature of Pensacola, showcasing the only naturally occurring bluffs in the state.
There are two entrances to the Bay Bluffs Park, the northern entrance located at the intersection of Summit Boulevard and Scenic Highway, and the southern entrance located .20 miles further south on Scenic Highway. There is a boardwalk system which runs between the two entrances, which allows easy access between the two sites. At the northern entrance, there is a pavilion, which serves as a shaded rest spot on hot summer days. This pavilion at one time offered a sweeping panoramic view of Pensacola Bay but is now blocked by heavy vegetation of the invasive trees and vines that become prevalent throughout the area. Guests can follow the boardwalk from the pavalion to the stairs, which offer safe passage up and down the bluffs as well as an opportunity for vigorous exercise. Once you have descended the height of the bluffs, the stairs give way to a network of boardwalks which are perfect for a leisurely stroll or an invigorating run while gazing at the scenic landscape that surrounds. Another great resource available to the park’s athletic visitors is the exercise equipment located at the bottom of the stairs of the northern entrance, in a quaint clearing in the woods. Complete with a sit up station, pull up bar, and balance beam, this area offers visitors an opportunity to obtain a better full body workout while enjoying the cool bay breeze and sun-dappled forest scenery.]
If you prefer to experience nature unencumbered, Bay Bluffs Park offers a multitude of trails throughout the surrounding forests that are sure to please any nature enthusiast. There are several pre-marked trails, which can be either leisurely hiked or sprinted through for a rugged, all-terrain sprint. The landscape varies from dense forest to red clay cliffs and sandy dunes, while the rolling hills throughout provide a comfortable challenge for hikers. Hillside clearings and trees perfectly poised as seats from decades of wind and erosion are ideal spots for taking a break from hiking and gazing at the beautiful vistas. There are also opportunities throughout the forest to venture off the beaten path and explore the hillside on your own. Trek through the forest on your own accord, and discover all the natural beauty the scenic forest has to offer.
Once you’ve made it down the ramp, or gone down the trails and forged your own path, you’ll find yourself along the bay. Calm, tranquil waters meet sandy shoreline in this great hidden swimming spot. The beach stretches on for miles, so even on a crowded Saturday in the middle of summer, there is plenty of place to lay out, swim and fish. Luckily, even at peak seasons, The Bay Bluffs never get as crowded as Casino Beach. If you have never been and are interested in going, all it takes is a quick drive to 400 Scenic Hwy, Pensacola, FL 32503 and then boom, you’re in one of Pensacola’s most unique and magical beaches.