Lord knows you can do some serious long-haul hiking in Navarre Beach and throughout Santa Rosa County. But maybe logging heavy miles is not in your plans. Perhaps you prefer a relaxing walk through pine forests, with some interesting stops and Florida history mixed in.
In that case, you should visit Arcadia Mill, just four miles west of downtown Milton. The 37-acre site was the first–and largest–water-powered industrial complex in northwest Florida. From 1817 to 1855, Arcadia Mill included a sawmill, a lumber mill, a shingle mill, a textile mill, and one of the first railroads chartered in the Florida territory.
Visitors can experience this piece of Old Florida while strolling a three-quarter-mile elevated boardwalk through the remains of the mill facilities, dam, water works and railroad. After that, you can continue on to the main nature trail, which includes short loops east and west. Make a stop at the Discovery Pavilion, which features working replicas of 19th Century water-powered mill technology.
Abandoned for more than a century, Arcadia Mill could’ve ended up as long-forgotten ruins if not for a preservation movement in the 1960s. After beating back development threats, Arcadia Mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.