4 Reasons Why Georgia is a Backpacker’s Paradise
Georgia, Ohhhhhhh Georgia. Yes, it’s on my mind. Jessica Georgia (me) was very happy frolicking around Georgia. As my start date for my thru-hike is quickly approaching- I am stacking up the practice miles. This might not be your “backpacking paradise,” but it certainly was for me.
My top 4 reasons this place is a backpackers paradise…
1. Cheap Secluded Camping.
$4 dollars to camp on the secluded beach, need I say more? The “sea camps” are limited to 60 people per night, camping limit is 7 days.
$2 dollars to setup your hammock under an incredible oak tree (Backcountry).
Stafford – 3.5 miles from dock- behind dunes, under good tree cover, long site, water source in site. Bathrooms and showers are available.
Hickory Hill – 5.5 miles from dock – on slight rise, usually have to pass muddy trail on way to site, canopy more open than other sites, 1 mile from beach, sulfur well (1 mile hike to source). Filtering and boiling the water removes most of sulfur odor and taste.
Yankee Paradise – 7.5 miles from dock – in forest, surrounded by palmettos so protected from wind, shared sulfur water source with Hickory Hill (1.3 mile hike to source)
Brickhill Bluff – 10.6 miles from dock- west side of island so on marsh, may be buggy but great sunsets, water source in site, accessible to Brickhill River, good tree coverage
To access this incredible place you need to first enjoy a 45 minute ferry ride to the island. You board this ferry from St. Marys, Georgia.
Ferry tickets are $20 dollars plus a $4 park fee. This $4 entrance fee is good for seven days. The fee is waived if you are a holder of a Federal Lands Recreation Pass.
I highly suggest you reserve everything ahead of time. Limited number of people are allowed in daily and the ferry only runs twice a day. Reservations and ferry info, visit: https://www.nps.gov/cuis/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm
The name of this paradise is, “Cumberland Island National Seashore.” Funny story. When I first learned about this place I was so excited and misread the name calling it, “Cucumber Island.” My good friend laughed, and replied; “LOL – You mean “Cumberland Island.” It will now forever be known to us as, “Cucumber Island!”
Cumberland Island is one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands along the Atlantic coast. The island has one of the largest maritime forests remaining in the United States and one of the largest wilderness areas in a National Seashore on the east coast.
This fact alone qualifies it to be a “paradise” in my eyes. It does not disappoint.
2. Running Water & Real Bathrooms. Say, What?!
As much as I love a good privy off the A.T. it is nice to have access to real bathrooms while backpacking. These are pretty much the only facilities you will find on this barrier island. There is no shops, or stores.
Restrooms and drinking water are located though out the south end of the Seashore. Potable drinking water is only located at Plum Orchard once you move north of the “Sea Camp.”
Leave the sawyer squeeze at home this trip kids.
3. An Entire Ocean-AKA-Shower!
You might work up a sweat backpacking one of the 50 trails located on Cumberland. No problem. Drop your pack, and dive into the ocean.
Before you shower off you will find everything from sand dollars, feral horses, dolphins, a horseshoe graveyard, star fish, abandoned shipwrecks, sea turtles and tons of other wild life along the beach here.
Side Note: Unoccupied shells may be collected, but is limited to 2 gallons. You can collect shark teeth, dead sea stars, sea urchins and sand dollars are also allowed. Feathers, bones, plant materials and artifacts must be left where they are found.
So, if you love searching for seashells by the seashore bring a 2 gallon bucket to collect them in. We found all sorts of incredible shells. Just be sure to check them. A lot we picked up were still occupied by guests (sea slugs).
I mean, come on. If you backpack, you are looking for adventure. How about abandoned structures, graveyards, and shipwrecks to explore?
This island holds a ton of history. If you are a history geek, you will love this place. I will admit I was geeking out…
Cumberland Island’s history spans nearly 4000 years and features time periods including early native peoples, the Colonial expansion, the Plantation Era, the Gilded Age and finally its designation as a National Seashore. So. Cool.
A little geek out about the Dungeness Ruins:
Revolutionary War Hero General Nathanael Greene purchased land on Cumberland Island in 1783. Following his death, his widow Catherine Greene, constructed a four-story tabby home that she named “Dungeness.” Thomas Carnegie and his wife Lucy began building another Dungeness on the original foundation in 1884. The Carnegie’s Dungeness burned in 1959 and today only the ruins remain on the site.
Cumberland Island has something for everyone. A designated Wilderness area, undeveloped beaches, historic sites, cultural ruins, critical habitat and nesting areas, as well as numerous plant and animal communities.
You cannot feed, water, or touch any animals (even though we REALLY wanted to feed the horses some apples).
Beware: Venomous snakes are present on the island including diamondback rattlesnakes, timber rattlesnakes and cottonmouth. You can also find alligators, armadillo, feral horses, sea turtles and nesting birds.
I was really blown away with just how cool this place was. It’s one of the most untouched barrier islands I have ever seen in the U.S. Most are crowded and the beaches are overrun with tourists, and resorts. This place is truly like something that was untouched by time, I hope it stays this way.
P.S. To see more of my photos from Cumberland Island come join me on Instagram: https://instagram.com/jessicageorgia
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