Cumberland Island National Seashore
If you're an outdoorsy type of person and live in Florida or Georgia, there's a good chance you've heard of Cumberland Island National Seashore. One of the largest undeveloped barrier islands on the Atlantic Coast, Cumberland Island is an oak covered paradise only 45 minutes off the coast of Georgia via ferry.
We've been trying to get to Cumberland Island for probably ten years now? I'm not sure. I had been dreaming of visiting ever since our high school biology teacher assigned a project on coastal ecosystems. I finally got around to editing the photos I took during our trip (in November, yikes!) and let me assure you, it lives up to all of the daydreaming.
The island is covered in wind-worn oaks, spacious pine stands, salt marshes, and coastal scrub ecosystems. The island's 50-miles of trails are well maintained and campsites are intimate with vegetation cover and primitive benches. You aren't allowed to have campfires in the wilderness camp sites so if your camping experience requires s'mores, stay at the Sea Camp or Stafford Beach campgrounds. You can learn more about the camping arrangements at this website. NOTE: All camping requires a permit and some campsites are first-come first serve.
There is non-potable water available in the wilderness area from a sulfur well; so, make sure you bring some Gatorade if you are sensitive to the flavor.
We stayed at the Hickory Hill wilderness campsite and had plenty of room for three large tents (4 person) and three small tents (2 person). Hickory Hill is a nice and easy 5.5 mile hike from the ferry drop off so you'll have time to explore once arriving at camp. It rained for most of our trip, but like all Florida hikers we relished in the cooler temperatures and misty ambiance. I'll take drizzly and cool over hot and muggy ANY DAY. The cold weather inspired one of the best backpacking meals of my life thus far ... fresh from scratch Fettuccine Carbonara with peas and bacon. To die for. Recipe post coming soon!
If you get the chance, I highly recommend a weekend at Cumberland Island National Seashore. As the second National Park System trip I've done where you must take a ferry, I can personally recommend this style of camping for a relaxing and more secluded wilderness experience close to civilization. Have fun and get outdoors!
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