2 days, 2 nights on Cumberland Island National Seashore

3:52 p.m. on November 11, 2014 (EST)
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The Mrs. and I just got back from a wonderful couple of days on Cumberland Island just off the coast from St. Mary's, GA.  Cumberland is run by the National Park Service and is the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia. The park is pristine and since it's only accessible by boat (of which two public ferries run per day) there are never more than 100 or so guests on the island at once.  The island is home to wild horses, deer, hogs, wild turkey, armadillos, copperhead and cottonmouth snakes among others and tons of marine life off the shore.  We took the 11:45am ferry out there on Sunday and hiked from Sea Camp to Brickhill Bluff 10.5 north on the island as the crow flies, probably more like 12-13 on the trails we took.   We changed our plan at the last minute and barely made it to camp before sundown but it was well worth it as we camped right on the bank of the Cumberland River, were treated to a spectacular sunrise and had the entire camp to ourselves.  The following morning we hiked back south via trails that ran closer to the east side of the island parallel to the Atlantic Ocean.  Some of these trails had obviously not been used or maintained in quite sometime as we were bushwhacking through some incredibly dense Palmetto tickets.  Some of these trails ran close to neighboring marsh and swamp which made me a bit leery about stepping on a snake, not really seeing where you were stepping sometimes.  We hiked about 8 miles or so to Stafford Beach campground to make camp for the night. Stafford was dramatically different than our spot at Brickhill as it was inland a few hundred yards and sat underneath a dense canopy of live oaks whose twisting branches loomed pretty close to the ground. The next morning we hiked a short 3.5-4 miles back to the Ranger Station at Sea Camp to catch the 10:15am ferry back to the main land.  We lucked out with weather with highs in the low to mid 70s and lows at night in the 50's.


Katy guarding our gear as we wait for the ferry

Hiking north along the parallel trail



Boardwalk hike through some swamps

The Main Road that runs north/south on the island, the only vehicle traffic is that of the islands residents (of which there are very few) and park staff.

I found a Great White's tooth (I think) on this road as we were walking.  They use sand from the beach to maintain the road.


We passed several of the islands wild horses as we approached camp on night one


A few pics of our first camp on Brickhill Bluff





Hiking through some marsh land on day 2


Shortly after I took the photo above we came across this guy (a Cottonmouth, I believe), just off the trail.  We had to wait a minute or two before he let us pass.



Night two's campsite at Stafford Beach

Did a little beach walking



Another couple shots of the beautiful maritime forest canopy



And our last mile or so hiking on the main road returning to Sea Camp to catch the return ferry

Cumberland is truly a magical place.  Check it out if you're ever in the area!

7:39 a.m. on November 12, 2014 (EST)
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Good report Jamie, I've read enough about that place to want to check it out for sure. Thanks!

8:25 a.m. on November 12, 2014 (EST)
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Very nice,  I love those giant twisted trees along the road in those last few pictures!  Maybe Oaks?  If they're oaks, they don't grow like that around here. 

9:18 a.m. on November 12, 2014 (EST)
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What diverse and beautiful pics! Thanks for sharing, very envious!

9:43 a.m. on November 12, 2014 (EST)
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You just added another place to visit on my to-do list!

12:09 p.m. on November 12, 2014 (EST)
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Nice write up!

I know that pine tree at Brickhill you have in your photo. Sorry to see it has given up the ghost. It was still alive two years ago. When I 1st starting going to the island that tree had twenty feet of bank in front of it.

The sand they use for the main road mainly comes from dredging the river. They have to maintain a certain depth for the Ohio class submarines .


The trail you "bushwacked" down was roller coaster. Lots of fun if you hike it at night :)


The "twisted" trees are "live oaks". Pretty common to the southern states.

Years and years ago, ship builders would go to Cumberland and cut oak trees that had branches that matched the structure of the boats they needed.

1:47 p.m. on November 12, 2014 (EST)
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Nice report, Jamie. What a splendid ecosystem to be able to hike amidst. 

10:26 a.m. on November 13, 2014 (EST)
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Its 16 degrees F here today.

And no snow yet :(

10:33 p.m. on November 13, 2014 (EST)
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Sounds like you had a nice peaceful trip. Its so neat to travel to these remote & isolated places that we never knew existed on this planet. I always like learning about  places to visit that don't have 5 million visitors & requires tons of money (visa/passport)... & I like how you didn't have any difficulties finding accomadations. at least you didn't run into anyone in voluntary isolation. thanks for sharing. i'll put this one on my bucket list! cheers

10:58 p.m. on November 13, 2014 (EST)
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Looks like a fantastic place to visit, thank you for sharing!

1:12 p.m. on November 14, 2014 (EST)
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Cool looking trip, Jamie. I also especially like those twisty trees. They have a lot of character.

It looks like you had a variety of views and wildlife.

Thanks for sharing this.

January 28, 2020
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