Camping, Hiking & Recreation Big Lagoon State Park
Big Lagoon State Park is located along the Gulf Beach Highway that connects Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores at the western end to Pensacola and then east to Destin, Panama City Beach and beyond. Technically it is not on the Gulf but on the mainland side of the “big lagoon” formed by Perdido Key which forms a barrier island between it and the Gulf of Mexico. The park does offer some sand beach swimming areas on the lagoon but they don’t compare to what you find in nearby Pensacola Beach.
The lagoon and the interior lakes within the park offer lots of protected-water paddling territory for canoeing and kayaking. If you don’t have your own watercraft, kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddleboard rentals are available from the Ranger Station. The hiking trails through the coastal forest and boardwalks along the shoreline plus a three-story observation tower provide lots of bird-watching and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
The park offers a full-boat launch area giving access to the lagoon and gulf for fishing and boating. Biking is another popular recreational activity along over 3 miles of lightly traveled paved park roads. Hiking is our favorite Big Lagoon recreational amenity as they offer 5 miles of varied hiking and nature trails plus several boardwalks.
The campground has 75 campsites with 30 & 50 amp service and is served by 3 full-service restrooms. The main park roads are paved but the campsites themselves are sand with some gravel. Most of the sites have good plant screening providing some privacy separation. Some of the sites along the edge of marsh are subject to flooding in heavier rains. The maximum RV length is 40 feet. Several areas of the park, including the washrooms, are wheelchair accessible and there are a few designated accessible camp sites that are paved.
There is a small camp store with limited hours at the eastern end of the campground. But a decent sized shopping center including grocery and adult beverage stores is only about a half-mile from the park entrance. Also nearby is one of our favorite Pensacola Golf Courses – Perdido Bay GC and Triggers Restaurant – a great family owned seafood restaurant. A library that offers Wi-Fi is located just across the street from the park entrance. Other popular Pensacola attractions, like the fantastic Naval Air Museum, Fort Barrancas, and the Pensacola Lighthouse Museum are about 8 miles east along the Gulf Beach Highway.
Summary of Pros and Cons
Pros: Hiking and Nature Trails, Easy access from Gulf highway, Convenient to shopping and many visitor attractions, moderate camping fees, less competition for reservations (compared to Fort Pickens). Cons: sandy and sometimes wet campsites, less attractive beaches.