Dunford Lake, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - Panhandle West -

Also known as:  Dunford Pond

For the Florida visitor who wants to bypass crowded beaches and tourist attractions, Dunford Lake may be just the ticket. Small Dunford Lake in Florida’s Panhandle West Region is not only uncrowded – it’s nearly unknown! Located halfway between Chipley on I-10 and Panama City on the Gulf, little Dunford Lake is a vital part of a larger natural ecosystem: it’s one of many small sinkhole lakes located among the old sand hills that recharge the Florida aquifer. Situated on the large karst plateau that underlies several counties in the middle of the Panhandle, lakes here are usually created by collapsed underground cavities in the porous limestone beneath the sand. Typical of sinkhole lakes in this region, Dunford Lake lies in a depression about thirty feet below the level of the ground around it. It is spring-fed from the water trapped in the limestone beneath the floor. The lake level rises and falls according to how much rainfall replenishes the underlying aquifer. Perhaps for this reason, State lakes databases do not list a depth for Dunford Lake, or for most lakes in the region.

Dunford Lake area was originally settled by Native Americans who valued the abundant wildlife attracted by the lakes and held many of the more obvious springs as sacred. When European settlers arrived, lumbering became the main attracting force. Much of the original pine and oak covering the region was logged out quickly, changing the ecology of the area considerably. At one time, steamships moved freight up and down the nearby Holmes Creek and Choctawhatchee River to the Gulf. Sadly, the railroads bypassed the small town of Vernon which quickly destroyed much of its economic base. Vernon still provides the closest spot for the area visitor to pick up supplies. The creek and river are now popular canoeing routes and Cypress Springs near Vernon is popular with campers, snorkelers and divers.

At 210 acres, Dunford Lake is a haven for swimming and fishing. The lake has several submerged sandbars and one large surface sandbar/island. The lake is known to hold bass, crappie & chain pickerel. As most sinkhole lakes in the region produce absolutely stunning bluegill, one can guess that the same is true of Dunford Lake. In fact, sinkhole lakes hold several state records for large bluegills. The lake is exceedingly clean and clear with little submerged vegetation. It is rumored that there is a publicly-accessible boat launch on the west shore of the lake, but state maps do not show it. The northern half of the lake is uninhabited and no roads surround the lake in this area. The southern half is part of a gated community called Paradise Lakes. The lovely homes in Paradise Lakes are primarily situated on the narrow strip of land between Dunford Lake and neighboring Lucas Lake. Most sit high above the lakes with fine views over the water. Communal docks are provided for residents in a couple of places within the community. Lots are large and heavily wooded. Residents value the wildlife they observe here, including the nesting bald eagles that call the lake home. Local restrictions require that all building must take place 300 feet or more from the water line, so the nearly 5-mile shoreline remains tree-covered and natural. One could canoe or kayak here in perfect tune with nature and still be home for lunch!

Because of concern for over-development above the aquifer, the Northwest Florida Water Management District has created a 2,155-acre Sand Hill Lakes Wetland Mitigation Bank a mile south of Dunford Lake to recover and restore wetlands, lakes and rivers in this critical ecological region. Although providing recreational activities including hiking, fishing, and hunting, the Mitigation Bank primarily acquires and restores properties in the area to pre-settlement ecological conditions. A few miles to the east, Econfina Creek Water Management Area has preserved 41,000 acres along several major and minor rivers. Although this area is open for public hunting, fishing, horseback riding, camping, picnicking and exploring, it’s safe to assume that there will be less lakefront property in the area for private development in the future. Currently, much of Washington County is uninhabited except for the small cities near I-10, so the real estate purchaser wanting solitude couldn’t find a more pristine location.

Although there is little settlement around Dunford Lake, one needn’t feel totally isolated. At 30 miles away, it’s actually close enough to Panama City to commute daily. Chipley on I-10 is only about 25 miles to the north. And for gas, groceries and the local diner, Vernon is five miles to the north-west. Panama City will provide all of the nightlife, cultural activities and shopping the country resident or visitor will desire. Popular Panama City Beach opens the entire Gulf region to the day traveler, or enjoy an upscale week-end at one of the resorts in the vicinity. Topsail Hill Preserve State bark is only a short distance west of Panama City, with beach camping, playgrounds, fishing and all types of beachfront activities to enjoy. The Dunford Lake-lubber can have the best of all worlds.

Vacation rentals at Dunford Lake are rare but sometimes exist. There are accommodations such as bed-and-breakfasts and hotels in the general area. And, month-to-month rentals are becoming more plentiful along the lake, many with lake views and lake access. So, instead of the same old Orlando vacation, experience Dunford Lake and the unique ecology of the Florida Panhandle. Bring the camera – beautiful nature shots await.

Things to do at Dunford Lake

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Dunford Lake

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Crappie
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Sunfish

Dunford Lake Photo Gallery

Dunford Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 210 acres

Shoreline Length: 5 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 72 feet

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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