Posts Tagged ‘outdoor activities’

Find Your Park at Cumberland Island

February 4th, 2016 by Mary

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Last week I blogged about the Find Your Park initiative from the National Park Service – this week I want to expand on that by giving you an overview of St. Marys’ neighboring park, Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Accessible only by water transportation, whether you take the Cumberland Island ferry or your own seafaring vessel, Cumberland Island is more than 36,000 acres of almost completely undeveloped wilderness – 9,800 acres of the land is Congressionally designated Wilderness. It is the largest and southernmost barrier island off the coast of Georgia, protecting the mainland from the harshest effects of coastal storms. The west side of the island is bordered by the Cumberland River and Cumberland Sound, both part of the Intracoastal Waterway, and to the east is the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. All sorts of wildlife call Cumberland Island home – from wild horses grazing on the grounds of the Dungeness ruins to ghost crabs hiding in their holes along the beach to shorebirds cruising above the salt marshes. The island also houses numerous ecosystems – the saltwater marshes on the western shore, the maritime forests that cover the island’s interior, or the pristine beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.

Cumberland Island is a nature lover’s paradise – there are 50 miles of hiking trails that meander all over the island and numerous sites for camping, whether you camp at the primitive sites in the Wilderness or at the developed sites with restroom facilities. Bikes are available for rent and can be used on the main road – expect a bumpy ride! If you prefer a more leisurely adventure, explore the 17 miles of white sand beaches while collecting shells and shark teeth that the tide has brought in. The Lands & Legacies van tour is an excellent way to experience the full scope of the island in a day – you are driven by a knowledgeable guide up the single main road to the north end of the island, a 16 1/2 mile journey from Sea Camp Ranger Dock. Along the way you stop at the Settlement, which once was home to African American workers; the First African Baptist Church, where John F. Kennedy, Jr. was married; and Plum Orchard, a fine mansion that once belonged to the Carnegie family at the turn of the twentieth century. These standing structures are evidence of past development on the island. There is another example that is no longer standing – the ruins of the Dungeness mansion, which are on the south end of the island. The first Dungeness was built in the late 1700s; another was built on the same site in 1884 but burned down nearly 80 years later, and since then the ruins have remained undisturbed.

In 1971, most of the owned land on Cumberland Island was given to the National Park Foundation, and the next year it was designated as a National Seashore. Since then, the NPS has endeavored to preserve the island for future generations to enjoy. Only 300 visitors are allowed on the island each day – this includes both campers already on the island and daily passengers on the ferry. Maybe Cumberland Island can be your park, whether you’re a fan of the outdoors or a history buff – there’s something for everyone on this wild piece of paradise. If you’d like more information, visit the Cumberland Island section of our website or the NPS Cumberland Island page.

 

 

Okefenokee Re-opens After Fires

July 28th, 2011 by Mckenzie

American Alligator In The Okefenokee Swamp

Due to the spread of wild fires, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge had been shut down for over a month. Well, lucky for us, we can now officially say they are back in business. Although the fires caused extensive damage in the swamp, they also added more unique characteristics to the land & wilderness area. The smoke affected many surrounding towns including our own St. Marys. Many firefighters went to work on the fires, battling night and day to try to contain them. We had a few good rains that also helped to put the fires out. With the re-opening of Okefenokee NWR, not everything is available yet but there are many things to do from guided boat/kayak/canoe tours to driving/walking trails. Reservations are required for the guided kayak or canoe tours,  please call at least 24 hours in advance. The park opens a half hour before sunrise and the first guided boat tour will depart around 9am; the last boat leaves around 5pm and the swamp closes at 7:30pm. Tours last about an hour and generally there is one every hour. If you are interested in canoeing or kayaking on your own, Okefenokee Adventures has resumed rentals. Private canoes and kayaks may be launched but, at this time, the refuge rangers do not recommend the use of  private motorized boats because of the low water levels.  The Okefenokee and its prairie is a great authentic swamp homestead. While visiting the swamp you could run across many kinds of critters from American alligators to great blue herons to cute and playful otters. It really is a different and special experience now because of  the fires. You can see first hand how the fires altered the swamp and how fast it is recovering – there is even some green growth showing through the burn. If you decide to stop and have some lunch, there is the Camp Cornelia Café. They serve sandwiches, salads and vegetarian fare and they can also prepare group meals, as well as cookouts and shrimp boils. It takes about 45 minutes to get to Okefenokee from St. Marys. For more information and prices on all these activities go to www.okefenokeeadventures.com. The visitors center, where the films and exhibits are, is open daily from 9am to 5pm. If you have any questions, please call the visitors center at 912-496-7156.

P.S. Do not forget your cameras as you never know what you might see.

Cumberland Island Campsites

July 3rd, 2011 by Mckenzie

One of the great camp sites on Cumberland Island

Camping is a great outdoor activity for anyone. The wild horses and gorgeous beach lines make for an amazing camping trip.

Cumberland Island National Seashore has many campsites.  Sea camp is the one developed campground with showers and bathrooms, and the rest are backcountry campsites.  Stafford beach is a primitive campground right near the beach. Brickhill Bluff is a lovely backcountry camp site. It overlooks the marsh and has amazing sunset views.

Reservations are required to camp on Cumberland Island. Trail maps are provided. For more information, contact the National Park Service, 912-882-4336.
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