A total of 50 miles of hiking trails meander through maritime forests, interior wetlands, historic districts, marsh ecosystems, and the beautiful beaches. Trails are accessible only by foot. The roadways allow vehicle and bicycle use.
Trails at the south end include the Dungeness Trail-- a self-guided walk through the Dungeness Historic District; the River Trail--a short walk from Dungeness Dock to Sea Camp; the Nightingale Trail offers another view of a maritime forest; the South End trail is an interesting collision of ecosystems.
Traveling north on the dirt shell road known as Grande Avenue you travel through the heart of the island under a draping canopy of live oaks, across forest floors packed with palmetto, through tall stands of stately pines, over open fields, near tidal creeks, fresh water wetlands and lakes. It also takes you near Plum Orchard Mansion, and it loops through the Settlement at the north end of Cumberland Island including the site of the First African Baptist Church. For a true backcountry experience, consider taking Parallel Trail or one of the many other backcountry and Wilderness trails that line the island.
Both developed and wilderness camping is available. Reservations are encouraged and may be made up to six months in advance. Permits are required and are picked up at the Sea Camp Ranger Station. All camping is limited to seven days. Spring and late fall are peak seasons. Entrance fees, camping fees and ferry fees are additional.
Backcountry and Wilderness Camping
Observe and practice LEAVE NO TRACE principles.
NO FIRES, TREAT WATER, PACK OUT TRASH.
Camping is limited to seven days. Backcountry and Wilderness sites are $2.00 per person per night. There are no facilities at the Wilderness sites and water must be treated. Campfires are not permitted in the Wilderness and portable stoves are suggested for food preparation. The three Wilderness sites range from 5.5 to 10.5 miles from the Sea Camp ferry dock. Sites are assigned upon arrival at Sea Camp Ranger Station.
Hickory Hill: 5.5 miles from Sea Camp, in the heart of the island, offers a fascinating close encounter with an intriguing interior freshwater wetland and its wildlife. Due to being located in a wetland area, bugs are often prevalent.
Yankee Paradise: 7.5 miles from Sea Camp, also in the center of the island and a half days walk to and from the Plum Orchard Mansion.
Brickhill Bluff: 10.5 miles from Sea Camp, located on the Brickhill River. A favorite place for seeing dolphins and manatees.
For a flyer of important backcountry facts and suggestions, click here.
Sea Camp Campground is $4.00 per person per night. The campground at Sea Camp has restroom facilities with cold water showers, a small amphitheater for ranger programs, and boardwalk access to the beach. This campground consists of 16 individual camp sites and two group sites. Group sites can accommodate 10-20 people. Each campsite has a grill, fire ring, food cage, and picnic table. Sites are assigned upon arrival at the Sea Camp Ranger Station. Check out time is 10 a.m. on the day of your departure, regardless of the time of the boat on which you leave.
Stafford camp sites are $2.00 per person per night and are located 3.5 miles from the Sea Camp Ranger Station. Restrooms, showers, and fire rings are available at the site. Fire rings are on a first come first serve basis. Sites are assigned at the Sea Camp Ranger Station.
Six public hunts are held during Georgia's hunting seasons. The hunts are advertised in newspapers and participants are selected on a first come first serve basis. Contact the Hunt Ranger at (912) 882-4336 ext. 253 for more information or visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com for more information.
To register for a hunt, please go to www.pay.gov and type "Cumberland" in the search box located on the left hand side of the screen under the section entitled "Find Public Forms". From the search results, select "Cumberland Island Managed Hunt" and follow the onscreen instructions to fill in the form.
If you receive a return email from Pay.gov stating it is a system confirmation email you are registered. The email will include information listing a pay.gov tracking number and an agency id number and listing the hunts you are attending. You will need to make reservations for the ferry once you receive your hunt confirmation.
Anyone 16 or older must possess a Georgia Fishing License to fish. These can be obtained at over 1,000 locations in Georgia. Call 1-888-748-6887 or go to www.gofishgeorgia.com for more information. Anyone intending to saltwater fish must have the Saltwater Information Program Permit (SIP) attached to their fishing license. This SIP has no additional charge for those who already have a Georgia fishing license. Please see the GADNR website for more information. Anglers enjoy numerous fishing opportunities including stream fishing for trout, bobbing for Blue Gill and Bass in freshwater lakes, shore and deep sea fishing, and gathering shrimp and crabs from the marshes.
The island's beaches and open fields provide wonderful unobstructed views for stargazing. Campers are welcome to bring their telescopes.
Opportunities for photography are endless. Numerous historic structures and ruins scatter the island. Sunrise at the beach, sunset over the marsh, tangled vines connecting forest canopies to dappled forest floors, jumbles of Saw Palmetto, gnarled live oak limbs, either bare bones dead or filled with abundant plant life, various animals scurrying about, and interesting cultural and natural features, all provide excellent subjects for photos.
As a favorite stopping point on the transatlantic migratory flyway, over 335 species of birds have been recorded on Cumberland Island, including threatened and endangered species such as the Least Tern, Wilson's Plover and American Oystercatcher. Pelican Banks, the southernmost point of the island is a favorite place for black skimmers, oystercatchers, pelicans, and numerous ducks and other shore birds. The fresh water pond areas provide excellent rookeries for wood storks, white ibis, herons and egrets. In the forest canopy, you can also see warblers, buntings, wrens, and woodpeckers. On the shores, osprey, peregrine falcons, and occasionally bald eagles and golden eagles are often spotted. Bring your binoculars and a field guide for a glimpse of some of these beautiful island inhabitants.
Visitors are allowed to collect sharks teeth and unoccupied sea shells. Beach findings are most successful after a strong surf or storm and may include coquinas, disc clams, heart cockles, ark shells, moon snails, and an occasional sand dollar or olive shell. If time allows, scour the beach south of Dungeness Beach crossing all the way around the south end of the island. Sharks teeth can often be found in the roads because the roads are conditioned with dredge fill. Also check at low tide on the marsh side between the Dungeness and Sea Camp docks.
Numerous species call Cumberland Island home. From threatened and endangered manatees and sea turtles to over 300 species of birds, the sights are endless on Cumberland Island. Often on a single trip, visitors may see wild turkeys, armadillos, feral horses, vultures, dolphins, and lizards. To experience the more elusive white tail deer, bobcats, and otters one should consider camping. Animal activity is often greater at dawn and dusk and camping allows you to be "on location" during these hours. Birding is often good at the south end at Pelican Banks, as well as on the marsh edge in the interior wetlands. Often visitors can simply find a spot to sit quietly and before long one of the islands creatures will surely be viewed.
Swimming is allowed anywhere on the island. Be advised that you swim at your own risk. There are no lifeguards at any location. Riptides may be present. Be advised that fresh water ponds are home to snakes and alligators.
Visitors may charter a boat through Lang's Seafood or bring personal boats. Visitors must still pay the entry fee of $4 per per person upon arrival. No overnight docking is permitted. Day use docking is available at the north end of both Dungeness and Sea Camp docks. Each dock offers a limited amount of space and it is available on a first come first serve basis. Shore tying is acceptable, however be aware of oyster beds and tidal changes.
Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the marsh. Kayakers or other private boaters interested in camping will still need reservations for camping and are required to pick up their camping permit at the mainland visitor center. Cumberland Island is located at the southern end of the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail, an 800 mile trail found in the coastal waters of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
Be prepared; always check tides and weather before disembarking. A compass or GPS unit can be very helpful and make a difference in your journey.
Adult sized bikes are available for rent at the Sea Camp Dock for a fee of $16 per day and $20 overnight for campers. Bicycle rentals are on a first come first serve basis and are rented from the ferry deck hands. Rented bikes are not allowed on the beach. Personal bikes may be brought to the island by private charter through Lang's seafood or personal boat. Personal bikes are not permitted on the ferry. All bikes must stay on designated roads and are not allowed on Park trails. As with all of your outings on Cumberland Island, be prepared, have a map, and know the distances of your destinations.