Day Trip From Cape San Blas to Wewahitchka and Dead Lakes

To some, a trip to “Wewa” doesn’t represent much of a drive. After all, it’s only about 25 miles directly north of Port St Joe and many visitors to our area whizz by it on their way to the beach without giving it a second thought. And that’s a shame.

Dead Lakes Florida South Arm

If you did journey to the Forgotten Coast” on that route (State Hwy 71), we suggest you set aside a few minutes on your return and visit the lakes. If you came to us using a different routing, then perhaps you’ll consider a day-trip during your stay.

 

Here’s what you’ll encounter if you make such a journey: proceeding north on Hwy 71, you’ll travel through relatively dense pine forests (which have been significantly thinned out by the forces of Hurricane Michael in 2018) for the first 7 miles. A bridge at the tiny community of White City will take you across the Intracoastal Waterway and here, too, you’ll enter the Central Time Zone. Continue proceeding north on 71 for about 18 more miles until you come to Wewa. You’ll pass Honeyville on the way and this was where the 1997 film “Ulee’s Gold” featuring Peter Fonda was filmed.

 

Immediately before Wewa’s only traffic light, take a right turn onto County Road 22 (also marked Lakegrove Rd.) and about two miles later you’ll find yourself on a small-ish bridge which will take you across the southern arm of Dead Lakes. There won’t be much (if any) traffic here, so we suggest you park at either end of the bridge and, camera in hand, take a stroll to the center of the crossing.

The lakes were formed when the Chipola River was damned near Wewahitchka in 1960 thus diverting the main river flow from the local cypress swamp to the Apalachicola River. After many of the trees in the tupelo-cypress swamp in the flooded river died and fishing declined, the dam was removed in the late 1980’s. Fish population and diversity have increased every year since.

 

Now, after taking in the views at the southern extremity of the lake, go back to Wewahitchka and at State 71, take a right and proceed beyond the traffic light for two miles (You'll pass the west arm of the lakes enroute.) Here you’ll see a sign to Dead Lakes Park on your right and you’ll take that for less than a mile and then you’ll enter the small but lovely recreation area. The park is full of longleaf pines, magnolias and bald cypress tress and there’s hiking trails which meander throughout the facility. At the far end of the park there’s a boat ramp with newly improved dockage and Dead Lakes is easily accessible here.

 

Florida Hikes website had this to say about the park and its environs: “Centered around a strangely beautiful 6700-acre lake with dark, tannic waters and wizened ancient cypresses, Dead Lakes Recreation Area is more than just one of Florida’s most intriguing places to paddle. With a campground and hiking trails which wander off into the floodplain, it’s a great destination.”

 

Hope y'all have a good trip.