Western Lake, Florida, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Florida - Panhandle East -

Western Lake is an unusual lake. Located in the Florida Panhandle East Region, Western Lake is one of Florida’s coastal dune lakes. Found in only a few locations worldwide, coastal dune lakes are intimately connected to the sea through an inflow/outflow channel. However, the outflow does not exchange water all of the time; the actions of sand, wind and tides cyclically close off the outflow while rainfall and ground seepage increases the fresh water. Eventually, high water forces open the channel again and a more tidal exchange begins to take place. Western Lake has constant sea water seepage so remains brackish most of the time. At 214 acres Western Lake is one of the larger dune lakes. Most are considerably smaller. These waterways have the highest occurrences of rare wildlife species in the state, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Visitors have found the Western Lake area attractive since timber-related businesses first settled the area in the 1800s. The unique geography of the narrow peninsula lying between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay offered unlimited access to the ocean and soon became a favorite vacation spot for those lucky enough to find it. By 1900, the little town of Seagrove Beach was filled with small, wood-framed cottages that visitors rented for a week, month or the entire season. Luckily the State of Florida wisely put thousands of acres of the peninsula under protection as Point Washington State Forest. The southern half of Western Lake lies within Point Washington State Park, affording the public access to both the Gulf beaches and Western Lake. This protected the southern portion of the lake from development that locals, as they become more ecology conscious, realized could have been detrimental to the lake. Much of the sugar-sand beach along the Gulf has been heavily developed with somewhat expensive golf and resort communities. The State Park allows all visitors to experience the Gulf and the lake as nature intended.

Western Lake itself has been spared much development due to the protective measures instituted by Walton County and the State. Salt marshes limit development on most of the northern half of the lake. The communities of Watercolor, Seaside and Grayton Corners have further self-limited with strict zoning and development limits. The South Walton area is likely one of the most ecologically-aware populations in existence. Bicycling is a favored mode of transportation around the towns and the US 30A Highway along the coast. The towns are extremely clean and well-maintained, with a great many art galleries, specialty shops and parks. Boardwalks and water features are everywhere, lending a sense of reverence for nature. Most housing is of the classic beach house style with metal roofs and second-story porches. Shopping is upscale and the arts are on display everywhere, including blown-glass cattail lighting on bridges.

But it is nature that commands center stage at Western Lake. Grayton Beach State Park maintains a boat launch ramp on Western Lake and provides canoe rentals. Both fresh and salt water fish are caught, commonly red fish, speckled and white trout, bass and bream. The water is stained dark due to tannins but is actually quite clean. The most common watercraft seen here are canoes and kayaks as residents and visitors enjoy the heavily wooded shoreline with its variety of birds and wildlife. Yoloing, a type of stand-up kayak, is popular here. Bald eagles are often seen, as are a wide variety of shorebirds. A self-guiding nature trail system gives visitors a close-up look at the varied ecological systems found both on the Gulf shore and along the lake. Campsites are located in the wooded areas on the western shore of the lake and park rangers provide campfire programs regularly. Grayton Beach State Park abuts 15,000-acre Point Washington State Forest. An extensive trail system criss-crosses the area, where visitors may see gopher tortoise, many bird species, alligators, deer quail and turkey. Point Washington State Forest extends across the peninsula nearly to Choctawhatchee Bay.

Traveling west along US 30A, Topsail Hill State Park encompasses 1,640 acres, with a 25-foot dune as centerpiece. The park holds 14 different wild plant communities, including beach dunes, pine flatwoods, coastal dune lakes, wet prairies, and maritime hammocks. Three-and-a-half miles of pristine quartz sand beach encourages surf fishing, swimming, sunning and wildlife observation. The State purchased an existing RV resort to enlarge the park and maintains all of the RV resort facilities for a comfortable and convenient camping experience.

Sailors and ocean-going boats can access public marinas on Choctawhatchee Bay at Horseshoe Bayou approximately 15 miles from Western Lake. Charter fishing can be arrange with numerous captains along the ‘Emerald’ (Gulf) Coast. South Walton County can be the Florida vacation of your dreams, with both luxury and untamed nature located a stone’s throw in any direction. Located 35 miles west of Panama City and 70 miles east of Pensacola, Western Lake area is unhurried, uncrowded and the ideal spot to enjoy Florida beaches and wildlife.

Vacation rentals are plentiful around Western Lake. Many resort condos and townhouses, private villas and hotel lodgings can be found year-round, often with beach or lakefront. Real estate is always available in a wide range of prices and configurations. So come and visit where the crowds aren’t. Visit Western Lake once – it will fill your dreams for years to come.

Things to do at Western Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • State Forest
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Western Lake

  • Bass
  • Trout

Western Lake Photo Gallery

Western Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 214 acres

Shoreline Length: 7 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3 feet

Average Depth: 7 feet

Maximum Depth: 11 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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