Draper Lake, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - Panhandle West -

Walton County, Florida, is host to a number of natural attractions that make it a sought-after location for making a home or seeking a long-term vacation rental or summer property. Draper Lake, situated in Freeport in the western end of Florida’s panhandle and hugging the Gulf coastline, is a small lake of very irregular shape that merges with a powdery-white beach on the Gulf of Mexico. A private, gated community borders Draper Lake on its west shore, and the total number of private homes that surrounds the lake numbers no more than 20. The lake, which fills on the north end and drains from the south end directly into the Gulf of Mexico, is a coastal dune lake, which is a very rare kind of naturally occurring body of water and associated ecosystem. At an elevation of only 3 feet, it is no wonder that Draper Lake sometimes becomes one with the Gulf of Mexico.

Coastal dune lakes are unusually shallow, with most averaging about 5 to 6 feet in depth, although these depths change significantly with rainfall amounts as well as due to occasionally draining into the coastal waters. Draper Lake is one of only 15 coastal dune lakes in the South Walton Beach area. Because it is a coastal dune lake, Draper Lake is neither purely freshwater nor saltwater. Its waters drain from the freshwater bodies to its north, where it fills the shallow lake basin, and therefore it starts out as a freshwater body. But a delicate natural balance keeps dune lakes in stasis. Occasionally, the dune that holds the lake’s waters in place gives way, and the great amount of pressure that the basin waters contain forces the lake to drain rapidly into the ocean. At that point, the lake bed will be nearly empty for a bit, and then the ocean’s saltwater will begin to pour back into the lake bed, changing the lake’s constitution from mostly freshwater to saltwater, and filling until the pressure evens out and stasis returns. This allows a very unusual kind of fresh- and saltwater habitat and ecosystem to develop in the area–one that supports a unique biodiversity found in only a few locations around the world. Therefore, most known coastal dune lakes have achieved protected status, and development near them is prohibited or strictly limited.

In 2008 Draper Lake experienced one of its unpredictable purges into the ocean. Children may have caused this particular event, however, as it was noted that their play prior to the release of water included using shovels and buckets to disturb the dune that contains the lake’s water. Two children in the path of the rushing water had to be rescued after they were carried into the Gulf of Mexico during the water’s rapid exit.

Although there are housing developments around Draper Lake, rules are in place to maintain as natural and healthy a habitat as possible. Full oak and pine forests surround some parts of the lake. Wildflowers are abundant, and shorebirds are a common sight in the area. Herons, sandpipers, gulls, egrets and cormorants are all common to the area. Reed grasses surround Draper Lake on its shoreline, and lily pads often fill the still waters there. Residents are partial to unobtrusive outdoor activities, such as bird watching, swimming, searching for seashells on the beach, and relaxing beachside with a book or getting some sun. The beach at Draper Lake is on the south end, connected to the Gulf of Mexico; the Gulf waters are clear and vibrant, calling for visitors to enter them and enjoy.

Those who live in the immediate area are delighted by the unique dune lake and the park-like settings that make the area feel like a nature preserve. Nature trails are abundant, as are well-maintained path markers and short walls built of river stone and wood. Natural materials used in building accent Draper Lake’s overall organic beauty. There are docks on the lake and two boathouses, but activity is limited to maintain the serene setting.

Draper Lake is minutes from scenic highway 30-A, which provides access to incredible views of lakes and the Gulf of Mexico and all the beaches in the vicinity of South Walton. Blue Mountain is nearby, as is Topsail Hill State Park. On the western part of 30-A, travelers often stop for a rest and a photo of the covered bridge on this road. It’s the only covered bridge on 30-A and was built not far from Draper Lake. Two other popular vacationing areas in this region are Destin and Grayton Beach, which thrive on tourism and vacation rentals, as well as retirement homes and real estate property and development.

Things to do at Draper Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Hiking
  • Birding
  • State Park

Draper Lake Photo Gallery

    Draper Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Saltwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 11 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3 feet

    Average Depth: 5 feet

    Lake Area-Population: 1,400

    Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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