Cleawox Lake

Located in Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, Cleawox Lake is one of my favorite coastal lakes. It offers quiet isolation during the cooler months. And it comes to life in summer with beach goers of all ages, providing a lingering “summer camp” feel. It is bordered by both trees and high sand dunes, and even includes a small beach. Meandering paths surround the lake, and plentiful picnic tables offer enjoyable views and outdoor dining options. If you’re feeling up to it, you can pick a path and explore. But, for those of us who need an element of predictability, here is how to find some of my favorite spots.

East end lake view

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The view from the bench at the east end of the lake offers visual entertainment year round. If the weather is tolerable, you’ll likely be able to visit with people who are fishing here. If it’s summer, you’ll have a view of the swimming platform in the middle of the lake and will probably see children jumping off and swimming around. Canoes, kayaks and paddleboats are common. Year round you can see the sand dunes in the distance (binoculars are helpful) where sand boarders of all skill levels coast the slopes, and folks of a slightly less adventurous nature slide seated on plastic discs and other improvised sliding apparatus.

Terrain:Uneven gravel trail, covered with pine needles.
Seating:Backless bench also a stone wall that is a good height for sitting
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms:No. Nearest are at the lodge in the Day Use Area, or in the Sand Dunes Picnic Area parking lot.
Directions:From the Honeyman State Park Entrance turn off Highway 101, take the first right. Just after the turn and before you enter the Day Use Area, you’ll see a circular driveway-style parking area to your left. There is a bench on the other side of the wall. To avoid scaling the wall, walk to just past the entrance gate where you will see a trail to the left. Follow the trail around to the bench.

Lake-front picnic table

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My husband and I visited this lake many times over a period of a few years before we came across this picnic table hidden behind the foliage. The lake is right at your feet with no obstruction, and the sand boarding dune described below is visible from this location.

This destination is located inside the Day Use Area. A gate blocks cars from entering this location when the park is closed.

Terrain:Dirt and gravel trail, narrow due to foliage, and some areas have roots across the path. It is flat but uneven, so you need to tread carefully.
Seating:Picnic table
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms:Yes. Continue past the parking space for the picnic table locations. The lodge houses the restrooms and also a small store (opened seasonally).
Directions:From the Honeyman State Park Entrance off Highway 101, take the first right and continue past the Day Use Area gate. The road veers right and becomes one-way. Pass the tollbooth and veer right again at the next branching. The road loops around to a number of parking slots, with the lake to your right. Continue past the stop sign, and past the 10 mph sign. The optimal parking slot is the first spot with painted (faded) lines parallel to the road. From the indicated parking slot, head straight one the trail and turn right when the trail branches. Continue past the first picnic table. To the left of the second picnic table is a paththat leads to the lake-front table.

Fishing dock

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If you want to get “on” the water without a boat, the fishing dock comes close to achieving that. It gets you very close to the sand dunes and out past the foliage for a great view of the lake. Water birds can be seen throughout the year, and ospreys often circle overhead during the summer months.

Terrain:Paved trail and deck, both often covered with sand and pine needles. Slight decline to the dock.
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms:Yes, in the parking lot
Directions:In the Sand Dunes Picnic Area parking lot, the parking spaces to the left of the restrooms are closest to the trail. The trail head is between the restrooms and the right end of the fence.

Sand boarding dune

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This sand dune is a common venue for both local and visiting sand boarders of all skill levels to surf the dunes. This part of the tall, ridged sand dune contains areas of varying steepness. I’ve watched as the more adventurous build the sand into ramps toward the bottom of the hill, so they can try their skill at jumps once they’ve gained some speed on their descent. Picnic tables at the base of the hill offer a front row seat to these antics.

Terrain:Sand, slight decline
Seating:Picnic tables, usually 2 or 3 depending on how folks have moved them around to suit their needs.
Fee: Day pass or recreation pass
Restrooms:Yes, in the parking lot
Directions:In the Sand Dunes Picnic Area parking lot, the parking spaces on the west end of the lot are closest to the trail to the dunes. Located behind a car-sized metal swinging gate, this area can be visited on foot even when the gate is closed. Head down the wide path until you see the picnic tables ahead on the right.

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