Weekly “What is it?”: Scenic Highway Parks

The view from Scenic Highway is one of the best in town! Photo credit: Steve Carter

Pensacola is a city blessed with parks. For a comparatively small community, we are home to 93 individual public parks within the city limits. Most residents have one in walking distance, within a few blocks of most homes. There are also 10 community centers, dozens of athletic fields, tennis and basketball courts, and two swimming pools.

Downhill from Scenic Highway lies an equally scenic railroad track. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

Among these diverse parks, I am partial to the public land along Scenic Highway. Highway 90 runs along a bluff high above Escambia Bay, providing views for miles over the water to Santa Rosa County and Pensacola Beach. There is historic Chimney Park, where a steam-powered lumber planing mill once stood before its destruction during the Civil War. Bay Bluffs Preserve, a series of boardwalks and steep walkways down to the bay, is currently closed due to safety concerns.

In fall 2020, members of Boy Scout Troop 495 installed benches and picnic tables along Scenic Highway as part of an Eagle Scout project. Photo credit: Steve Carter

But on the thin stretch of grassy shoulder between Sugartree Drive and Summit Boulevard, an Eagle Scout built benches and picnic tables for anyone to use. Within days of his project’s completion, the benches were in full use, with locals taking advantage of this stunning view. Facing east, they are particularly ideal places to watch a sunrise. A virtual tour created by Florida Scenic Highways gives you a feel for what it’s like to drive along this beautiful area.

This tiny park consists of one bench and an incredible view. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

In addition to the Scout project, my favorite scenic park is also the tiniest one in the area. Located in East Pensacola Heights at the very end of Gadsden Street, it consists of a single bench with a million-dollar view. From that bench, you can watch birds glide above, airplanes flying low as they approach landing, cars crossing the bridge over Pensacola Bay, and trains rolling by directly below you. The bench is in the shade of several mature oak trees and a steady breeze blows off the bay. A concrete marker on the ground adjacent to the bench indicates the area is dedicated to the memory of a neighbor named Evelyn B. Fraser, “who saved this place of beauty for the whole community.” I don’t know Ms. Fraser’s story, but I surely appreciate her foresight and desire to preserve such a beautiful and simple spot.


Posted: March 6, 2024

Category: Natural Resources
Tags: Ecotourism, Habitat Conservation, Pensacola Bay, Weekly What Is It

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