Eastern Lake, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - Panhandle East -

Eastern Lake, located in Florida’s Panhandle East Region, brings back long-buried memories even to those who have never come here before. There’s something in the human psyche that recognizes the rust-colored, tree-lined pond behind the dunes. And you instinctively know that, just beyond the dune, emerald-green endless waters lap at a sugar-sand beach. The coastal dune lakes of South Walton County strike a primitive chord in all of us. Archeological explorations show human habitation for at least 3000 years. Here, we are an integral pat of nature in all of its splendor and mystery. Coastal dune lakes are rare, found along only a very few beaches in the world. These intermittently-connected lakes sometimes drain to the sea and sometimes take in salty water. At other times, shifting sands isolate them entirely until high water again forces the channel open and they again drain into the ocean. This unusual ecology has developed a unique environment which supports plants and animals found in few other places. Eastern Lake is one of those unique lakes.

Located only a few hundred feet from Seagrove Beach, Eastern Lake has drawn lake lubbers since the 1800s. Soon after Walton County first became economically productive for lumbering and turpentine, rental cottage resorts developed where vacationers could relax in the sea breeze and salt air. The narrow peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay soon became a sought-after spot for a seasonal cottage. The scenic location quickly attracted artists, writers and charter boat captains. Luckily, the State of Florida recognized early that the delicate ecological balance could be irreparably damaged and placed a large amount of land under state protection. More than 40% of South Walton’s beaches are protected as state parks and forests. Beach and golf resort building exploded after 1970, but the protected lands assure that all visitors have the opportunity to experience them.

Sixty-six-acre Eastern Lake is heavily developed on its southern portions. The salt marshes at the northern end are a part of Deer Lake State Park. There is a public access point along the west shore of the lake and small boats are welcome. The shallow lake is perfect for children to spot small fish and crabs and generally enjoy the water. Canoes and kayaks are the most common form of water transportation on the lake, but some lakeshore residents water ski here occasionally, depending on the water depth. A new sport, called Yolo (short for “you only live once”) – something like a stand-up kayak – is engaged in on Eastern Lake and other shallow lakes in the area. The brackish water supports both fresh and salt-water species; sunfish, bass, mutton snapper, barracuda, red fish and flounder are often found. Fishing is usually considered good, although recent weather conditions can change the principle species caught.

The communities of Seagrove Beach and Seacrest are highly conscious of the fragile ecology of their coastal dune lake. Community members are heavily involved in protective measures to assure its continued health. This environmental attitude extends to many areas around the lake; bike paths and trails are plentiful and ‘smart cars’ can be rented in town. The local portion of US 30A, called the Timpoochee Trail, has lanes designated for bicycles, pedestrians and roller blades. North of Eastern Lake, Deer Lake State Park has a three-loop hiking and cycling trail that is very well-used. The portion of Deer Lake State Park to the east contains yet another coastal dune lake. Deer Lake itself is open for fishing. The day-use park contains space for picnicking, hiking, wildlife viewing, swimming and beach enjoyment.

A large number of vacation resorts have developed around Eastern Lake, so vacation rentals are plentiful. Large numbers of expensive ocean view ‘cottages’ have be built near the shore. Along with the upscale residents, art galleries, specialty shopping and world-famous dining establishments have come to the shore. Several golf courses serve this area of the Gulf coast and there is no shortage of spas, fitness facilities and cultural events to please the most discerning visitor. Bicycles, boats and jet skis can all be rented locally. Several public marinas are located on Choctawhatchee Bay about 20 miles to the northwest. Charter fishing and cruises can be arranged either around the Bay or along the Gulf beaches of South Walton.

An interesting side trip for the Eastern Lake visitor is a visit to the Wesley Mansion at Eden State Gardens. Built in the 1890’s, the mansion was owned by a lumber baron and houses the largest collection of original Louis XVI antiques. Tucked away in historic Point Washington on the shore of Tucker Bayou the mansion is surrounded by azaleas, camellias and towering Spanish moss-draped live oaks, some dating back more than 600 years. The entire peninsula is loaded with antique galleries, making any day trip a surprise shopping expedition.

About 15 miles west of Eastern Lake, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park possesses what is considered the most pristine piece of coastal property in the state of Florida. The 1,600 acres are loaded with hiking trails, boardwalks, two more coastal dune lakes, pine forest and dune trails. The park also holds a full-service RV park and includes bungalows that may be rented by the month. Topsail Hill is just a short distance from the well-known resort town of Destin. Every type of activity and amusement is available in Destin and a great place for a night ‘on the town’.

Finding vacation rentals around Eastern Lake should be quite easy; along with resort condos and townhouses, many private seasonal homes are rented by the week or month. Nearly everywhere has a water view of either the lake or the beach. Real estate is available in the area, often with lake or beachfront. So, come to Eastern Lake. Let the dark water and sugar beach stir that certain primeval ‘something’ in your memory. You’ll know you’ve come home.

Things to do at Eastern Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Eastern Lake

  • Bass
  • Flounder
  • Sunfish

Eastern Lake Photo Gallery

Eastern Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 66 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3 feet

Maximum Depth: 6 feet

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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