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Its Me

Cumberland Island Nation Seashore

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You get there by boat only.. it is part of national park service, take a look at their website.. St Mary's is near FL line.. there several FL state parks just across the line..along the coast and more inland on the Suwanee River (Fl has a canoe trail down the Suwanee) Also Okeefenokee Swamp isn't far. (probably less than an hour).. the Land of the Trembling Earth exists in a time warp. A four hour boat tour I did 30+ years ago is still a highlight of my teenage memory. Back about that time, our council used to hold a camporee there every year.. but it grew too big and more people became aware of environmental impact of the swamp. When are you planning to come?? what else you do depends on that. summer is great for hitting the beaches.. but the bugs will eat you alive inland.. winter isnt' the time for beaches, but great for canoeing, hiking, because the bugs and snakes aren't so bad.

 

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Its Me,

Crooked River State Park (Georgia) is 15 - 20 minutes from the Ferry - they have camping and cabins.

The Ferry takes 45 minutes to reach Cumberland. Book your tickets in advance. Camping reservations can be made 6 months in advance, I think. Sea Camp is the closest camp site to the ferry docks, which are on the southern end of the island. It is a gorgeous location, back in the live oaks and palmettos, right off the sand dunes and beach. They have toilets and cold showers. You will see more people here than at any other location on the island.

Going north, the next camp site is Stafford Beach. Also near the beach and sand dunes.

 

The next two sites, Hickory Hill and Yankee Paradise, are back in the woods. The water source is sulfer water - safe to drink, if you can get it past your nose! :-)

 

The furthest camp site north is Brickhill Bluff. It is on the western side of the island, on a bluff overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway. This area is very nice, but it takes some planning, strong hikers and little longer trip to reach it.

 

IIRC, you can request sites but you don't actually find out what you get until you get on the island. The Ranger Station is at the second ferry dock.

 

You really can't go to the island without seeing the Dungeness Ruins on the southern end. The wild horses are often seen near there, as well. If you want to go north, I would recommend trying to make Stafford, Hickory Hill or Yankee Paradise for the first night, then hiking up to Brickhill Bluff for the second night, then back down for the third night. You need to make sure you can catch the ferry on your last day there. If you miss it, you will need to pay for private transportation off the island.

 

Also understand you will not be able to use any vehicles on the island. You will be walking everywhere. Also plan on spending some time on the beach, if the weather is nice. Miles of beach without a single building or beach umbrella in sight!

A good map can be found at http://www.nps.gov/cuis/upload/IslandMap.pdf

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Well we did it!

 

We stayed in a hotel in St Mary's on Thursday night and on Friday morning departed on the Island Queen ferry for two nights of backpacking in the Cumberland Island wilderness area.

 

We took off late due to the fog and arrived on the island about 11:00 AM. After a brief Park Ranger orientation we were off to our first campsite at Hickory Hill, some five plus miles up the parallel trail.

 

What a fantastic place Cumberland is. At first the trail starts off in a semi upland area. All the trails on the island our canopied with 85-90% coverage but the trees change. At first it was short scrub oaks then pine flat lands and finally majestic live oaks. The flat trails made for easy walking. I can't describe how nice the trails were. Wide and leaf or pine needle covered made almost a carpeted path to our campsite.

 

The forest was thick but was absent of the neusense vines such as Kudzu and Air Potatoes. This opened up our sight-lines for hundreds of feet at time revealing a beautiful forest in as close to a natural state as I can imagine.

 

The five mile hike was a little rough on a few of the scouts. The temperature sored into the mid 80's and the boys over packed. Even with discussions and a good shake-out backpacking trip two weeks before the boys just haven't learned the balance of packing just enough to make do. At least now my new troop has a group experience for going backpacking. Other than my son and one other dad, the other 13 scouts and adults had never backpacked before But we arrived with no blisters and only the one-two scouts out of eleven really complained. Many of the older scouts wanted to push on for another two miles to the Yankee Paradise campsite.

 

Hickory Hill is a wide spot in the trail that has a semi-marshy trail to the Atlantic. We went down this trail and all but four die-hards pulled up and decided against trudging through the 100' of marsh land that separated the trail form the sand bluffs to the beach. The "beach" is an 18 mile north to south slice of disturbed land.

 

On Saturday we day hiked to Plum Orchard an old Carnegie mansion and were able to pursued a Park Volunteer to give us a private tour of the mansion. WOW! How those people lived back then was amazing. Double halls to separate the servants and guests. Six servant quarters in the house and several servant out buildings just to support one childless couple during spring retreats.

 

On the trail to and from we saw wild horses and we stopped short from stepping on an eastern diamond back rattler. Only by the keen eye of my youngest scout did we stay off what could have been a disastrous ending to our trip.

 

That same day at 3:00PM we had our packs on again and were headed for another campsite, Staford Beach. This site is about two miles closer to the ferry dock. After getting to the site and setting our tents up, we headed to the beach. The trail was much easier and shorter. Thankfully the Atlantic was calm that day and just warm enough for about 45 minutes of belly surfing.

 

On Sunday we decamped and were on the trail for 7:30 AM. The ferry arrived and we departed the island at 10:15 AM. As the island diminished from sight all had in there hearts, "I will return some day".

 

Eight months in the making and well worth it. This was a very good trip!

 

 

 

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It's Me,

Glad to hear you had such a good time! You are making me want to go back! Two local troops went down in February for President's weekend, and caught a lot of rain. Even so, they still had a good time. That is truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

 

There aren't many books on the subject of Cumberland Island history, but I picked up one on our last trip down - Cumberland Island, A History by Mary R. Bullard. She is one of the descendants of Thomas Carnegie. It is very interesting - you'd be surprised to know how much has happened on that little island! Part of the scary history is our elected State officials tried many times to get their hands on it for development - they thought it would make another nice Jekyll Island. If you haven't been there, don't bother. The "developers" absolutely ruined it. The other scary part of history is the developer who created Hilton Head bought a bunch of land on the island, hoping to have a causeway built and turn it into another Hilton Head or Amelia Island. Think high rise condos and hotels instead of all those live oaks and palmettos. Luckily it ended up in the right hands and is now protected. Even my wife, a Holiday Inn camper, loves Cumberland Island - she hasn't seen any of the snakes yet, only the horses, deer and armadillos!

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We made a 3 day weekend over MLK last Jan. What a unique place. We camped on Hickory Hill the first night and Stafford the second. I'll never forget the sight of our tents being set up in all those huge oak trees at Stafford. A wonderful place that I can't wait to return to.

 

The campsites make the scouts feel like they are farther away from civilization that they really are.

 

Fullquiver

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