DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — Florida's highest point is neither impressive nor challenging. There's no uphill hike to its peak, no breathtaking view.
At an elevation of just 345 feet, the "summit" is hard to recognize. But that's exactly the point.
Florida's highest point, also known as Britton Hill, is the country's lowest high point. Alaska is home to the highest point of elevation, Mt. McKinley, at 20,237 feet.
Britton Hill is located in Lakewood Park on County Road 285 in Walton County. There's a small trail, some benches and a small monument to mark the high point. Walton County commissioners unanimously voted in 1976 to erect the monument at the park.
According to historical records, Britton Hill was named in honor of the Britton family, who donated the park land. The Britton family operated a lumber mill beginning in 1904, and at the company's height produced 50,000 board feet of lumber daily.
People all over the country and beyond visit the spot regularly. Visitors write their name and hometown in the weathered notebook stashed by the restrooms. Sometimes they add how many high points they've visited or a little note such as "first timer!" One visitor was even from Austria.
There's an underground club of people who travel to all of the state's highest points. The Highpointers, as they call themselves, share tips and stories on the Highpointers newsletter and website. You'll notice some Highpointers Club logos on the benches in the park.
'I don't like hiking'
Britton Hill was quiet and peaceful one recent afternoon. All you could hear was mooing cows across the country road. A maintenance truck stopped by and then another car, but only to turn around.
Then an SUV parked in one of the two parking spots. A family of four got out to stretch their legs. They walked over to the monument to take a selfie.
The family had driven 20 hours from Blaine, Minnesota, to Britton Hill to visit Florida's highest point.
"This is No. 23 for my husband and I and No. 14 for the kids," Deby Mullen said.
Deby and her husband Gary have been traveling to high points for the past few years. They list the points they've visited on Google Maps.
When their kids had a few days off from school, they decided to jump in the car and mark another high point off the list. They incentivized the trip to their kids by promising a stay on Pensacola Beach.
"We're members of Highpointers and get the newsletter," Deby said. "Gary and I like to hike, so we try to plan vacations around the high points."
The kids, 11-year-old Oliver and 13-year-old Katherine, aren't really high point enthusiasts.
"I don't really like hiking," Katherine admitted. "I guess the drive here wasn't so bad, but I prefer to fly."
Gary, who originally is from England, said he likes using the high points to explore new places. There really would be no other reason to make a stop on this county highway just two miles southeast of Florala, Alabama.
Hawaii's high point, Mauna Kea (13,800 feet), is usually at the top of most highpointers' bucket lists. Deby said a lot of people save that one for last. At least Katherine and Oliver are excited about that one.
At most of the high points, Gary will treat himself to a Diet Coke after the hike. This recent trip to Britton Hill didn't make the cut, he said with a laugh. Katherine said she appreciated that no hiking was involved.
The family did agree that Florida's high point is nicer than some of the other spots they've visited. It at least has a marker.
"A lot are in the middle of nowhere and some are on private property," Gary said.
'Still on the bucket list'
What Britton Hill might lack in elevation, it makes up for in quirkiness.
"A lot of people joke about it, but at the end of the day it's still one of the highest points," said Justin Sutton, a spokesman for Highpointers Club. "It may not be the most exciting, but it takes you to a part in Florida you don't go to."
Sutton, who lives in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, said he had driven by the high point plenty of times before finally stopping. He's taken his son to Britton Hill twice since he's become a highpointer.
As the social media manager for the Highpointers Club, Sutton said he receives a good number of inquires about Florida's highest point.
"There's a fascination because it's so low," he said. "You can park in the parking lot and see the point from your car, not too many points are like that. The next lowest ones are Delaware (448 feet) and Rhode Island (812 feet)."
Being so low, Britton Hill is also more accessible to people who want to get in on the high point craze but may not be able to hike.
"It's a really neat place off the beaten path," Sutton said. "And for anybody who wants to complete the quest, you have make the stop."
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