About Cumberland Island
These conversant in tenting on Cumberland Island realize it requires a reservation weeks, usually months, upfront. Not more than 300 persons are allowed on the island on any given day. But it surely doesn’t take lengthy to see why Cumberland Island is well worth the wait. Sunrises dazzle guests as they sit on the white sandy seaside. Wild horses casually roam the land, and wild hogs cost by means of thick brush, leaving friends in awe. Historical past is so plentiful on the island that it takes new park rangers months to study every part they should know earlier than they’ll share tales with guests.
Cumberland Island is 16 miles lengthy and three miles broad at its widest level, making it barely bigger than New York’s Manhattan island. It’s the biggest sea island off the coast of Georgia and the one one that continues to be principally undeveloped.
There are a number of ecosystems on Cumberland Island, together with miles of seashores, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes and forests crammed with its well-known reside oak bushes. The pure variety discovered on the island makes it liveable by a lot of wildlife, together with wild packs of turkeys and beach-strolling armadillos. Dolphins linger off the coast and huge ospreys patrol the sky.
Cumberland Island National Seashore is one of 10 national seashores in the United States. The designation’s goal is to protect the pure shoreline whereas additionally permitting for water recreation, and Cumberland Island has been federally protected since 1972—however the historical past of the island dates again a lot additional.
Historical past of Cumberland Island
The Tacatacuru tribe of the Timucua Native Americans are the primary identified inhabitants of the island. Within the 1500s, Spaniards got here to Timucua’s homeland and claimed it as a part of Spain’s colony, which spanned from South Carolina to Florida. After raids on separate events by the French and English in 1684, the Timucua folks and Spanish settlers fled to present-day Florida. In 1736, a British basic claimed Cumberland Island for England and named it after the Duke of Cumberland.
By the 1800s, the American Revolutionary basic Nathanael Greene and his descendants owned a number of plantations on Cumberland Island. After the Civil Warfare, the Carnegie household, who made their fortune within the metal trade, purchased practically 2,000 acres on Cumberland Island. Thomas and Lucy Carnegie constructed their model of the Dungeness mansion in 1884. It burned down in 1959, creating the famed ruins that guests take pleasure in exploring right now.
The federal authorities purchased land from the Carnegies (and some different land-owning households) in 1972 to create the nationwide seashore on Cumberland Island. The preservation of Cumberland Island, which led to its nationwide seashore standing, wouldn’t have been potential with out the advocacy of the Georgia Conservancy.
Georgia Conservancy’s Work
Whereas personal improvement has sprouted up on Georgia’s different barrier islands, Cumberland has remained comparatively protected, because of many years of conservation work by advocates just like the Georgia Conservancy. The group led efforts to influence Congress to guard the isle as a nationwide seashore within the ’70s and, later in 1982, to designate practically 9,000 acres within the northern half as a federal wilderness space.
Hikers and different explorers can observe 50 miles of trails which have been restored, marked with indicators and GPS mapped—the results of a trails restoration mission that Georgia Conservancy accomplished in 2016. (REI Co-op offered the group $60,000 as a part of the Each Path Connects program.)
The Nationwide Park Service preserves the Dungeness ruins, and the paths had been created and up to date by the Georgia Conservancy and REI Co-op.
A lot of the island’s guests keep in a single day by tenting. Greyfield Inn is the one lodge in operation on the island, however there are a number of indicators, particularly alongside the principle street, to make guests conscious of personal property. Some members of the Carnegie, Rockefeller and Candler households nonetheless personal land on the island right now. NPS is negotiating with these households now to make sure conservation efforts are nonetheless met.
There are 5 campgrounds on Cumberland Island. Two campsites have a number of facilities, and the opposite three are primitive with no facilities. There are not any trash cans at any of the campsites, or anyplace else on the island: Campers and day guests should be ready to pack out all rubbish. Reservations could be made by means of recreation.gov, and rangers suggest making a reservation months upfront.
Variety of websites: 18, together with three large-group websites
Cumberland Island’s hottest campground is a half-mile from the Sea Camp ferry dock. These with reservations at Sea Camp can borrow Nationwide Park Service (NPS) wagons or convey their very own to haul gear to their campsite. (Campers staying on the different websites aren’t allowed to make use of wagons of any type.)
Sea Camp has the biggest bathe and loo amenities of all of the camp amenities. It’s wheelchair accessible and has potable water. There are separate spigots for refilling water bottles and for laundry cooking utensils.
The campsites are remarkably personal because of the noticed palmettos that encompass them. Every campsite has a metallic hearth ring with grills and a big bear field to guard belongings from raccoons. Cell service is offered, however usually very weak.
Sea Camp has its personal dock entry to the seaside. It’s additionally the closest campsite to the Dungeness ruins.
Variety of websites: 10
The Stafford Seashore campsite is about 3.5 miles from the ferry dock and is reachable by the principle street or Pratt’s Path and Parallel Path. This campsite has a more recent constructing with wheelchair-accessible showers and loo stalls. One of many latest options right here is entry to potable water, discovered on the aspect of the constructing.
The campsites at Stafford Seashore don’t supply as a lot privateness in contrast with Sea Camp, however campers who wish to be surrounded by low-hanging oak bushes will benefit from the ambiance. Every campsite additionally has a fireplace ring with a grill and bear field. These campsites even have fast entry to the seaside.
Wilderness Tenting (Primitive Campsites)
Skilled campers in search of a extra immersive nature expertise can go for one of many 12 tenting websites in Cumberland Island’s three wilderness tenting areas, on the northern aspect of the island. The wilderness campsites would not have bear bins, so although there are not any harmful animals like bears on the island, campers might want to cling their meals and toiletries to keep away from the intelligent raccoons who’re infamous for grabbing no matter they’ll. Learn Bear Canister Fundamentals for details about defending meals from wildlife.
Effectively water is offered in any respect three wilderness websites, but it surely’s not potable and should be handled. Learn Learn how to Select Water a Water Filter or Air purifier for extra info.
Variety of websites: 4
Hickory Hill is about 2.5 miles north of Stafford Seashore or 5.5 miles from the Sea Camp ferry dock. Tenting at Hickory Hill presents distinctive proximity to a freshwater wetland space.
Variety of websites: 4
The Yankee Paradise campsite is almost on the middle of Cumberland Island. Campers staying at Yankee Paradise might want to hike 7.5 miles to the campsite, a few half-day’s stroll. Campers can hike to the Plum Orchard Mansion, a historic mansion constructed by the Carnegie household, for excursions in addition to restrooms and water refills. Effectively water can also be obtainable however must be handled.
Variety of websites: 4
The northernmost campsite comes with a ten.5-mile hike from the ferry dock to the place to arrange camp. This campsite is good for seeing dolphins and manatees alongside the Brickhill River. Brickhill Bluff additionally offers campers easy accessibility to historic landmarks like The Settlement, a Black American neighborhood established by freed enslaved folks within the late 1800s.
The most typical solution to attain Cumberland Island is by a 45-minute boat journey on the Cumberland Island Ferry. The ferry usually makes two journeys a day, one within the morning and one other within the afternoon. Campers who’re leaving Cumberland are requested to take the morning ferry again to St. Mary’s, since campsites should be vacated by 10 am. Guests can use a personal boat to get to the island, however personal boats are solely allowed to dock throughout daylight.
Very best Tenting Itinerary
For wilderness hikers who wish to see as a lot of the island as potential, NPS training technician Robin Barker recommends this four-night itinerary: Spend the primary evening at Hickory Hill or Yankee Paradise, then two nights at Brickhill Bluff, which is able to give campers time to hike the north finish of the island and see Lake Whitney, The Settlement historic space and hike the Curler Coaster Path. Spend the fourth evening at Stafford Seashore for some further facilities, together with potable water and a rest room with showers.
When to Camp
Yr-round tenting is offered, however every season presents completely different advantages.
Winter – November and December could be best months to camp as a result of the climate is cool, and crowds have lessened. As a result of crowds are smaller, campers must plan across the ferry’s operation schedule: There isn’t any ferry service on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from December by means of February.
Spring – Springtime brings the biggest tenting crowds, notably in March and April, as a result of the climate is temperate and birds are plentiful.
Summer time – Summer time tenting shouldn’t be for the faint of coronary heart as a result of the climate is sizzling and humid, which additionally brings a lot of mosquitoes and ticks. (Learn Learn how to Select Insect Repellent earlier than your journey.) In keeping with park rangers, mountaineering to the wilderness space shouldn’t be best in the summertime due to the warmth. For many who aren’t deterred, August is the very best month to catch a glimpse of loggerhead turtles hatching on the seaside. Don’t neglect to convey purple lights in order not to disturb the baby turtles!
Fall – Fall is a perfect time to camp as a result of temperatures have fallen, with highs within the 70s or 80s, and humidity ranges which might be extra manageable. Nevertheless, fall campers could have to be extra versatile since Cumberland Island should often shut and/or evacuate campers resulting from threats of hurricanes.
Bringing a motorcycle is a well-liked possibility for individuals who wish to cowl extra floor on the island. NPS has briefly stopped renting bikes, so guests might want to convey their very own. (Word: There’s an additional cost for a motorcycle on the ferry.) Park rangers strongly suggest bringing mountain bikes, for the reason that sandy terrain could be arduous on street bikes. Every ferry can solely accommodate 10 bikes, so it’s greatest to order a spot early on the ferry’s website. Bikes are solely allowed on the island’s essential street and seashores, not on its mountaineering trails.
Barker says the most important mistake he sees campers make is bringing an excessive amount of gear. He says it’s particularly widespread amongst people who find themselves used to automobile tenting. All the additional gear turns into a burden when campers should load and unload their gear from the ferry.
Campers are allowed to collect firewood on the island to construct fires at Stafford Seashore and Sea Camp, however campers will get extra environment friendly fires by shopping for firewood on the ferry.
Ticks are prevalent throughout the island, particularly in Stafford Seashore and the wilderness campsites. Park rangers suggest not solely bringing loads of bug spray, but additionally a roll of masking tape or painter’s tape. If in case you have the misfortune of coming throughout a tick’s nest, use tape to take a number of ticks off directly.
Obtain the Cumberland Island park info on the NPS app earlier than you permit on your journey. Search for the indicators with QR codes on the Sea Camp ferry dock upon arrival. The map will help verify campsites in case you’re not conversant in the format. It additionally follows your location on the island as you hike, even in case you don’t have cell service.
The one hammocks allowed on Cumberland Island now are free-standing ones. Campers are now not allowed to hold hammocks from bushes as a result of some bushes have been broken.
Rangers are fast to remind guests upon arrival that nobody is allowed to the touch wildlife, together with the wild horses.
The one pure objects guests are allowed to take house are shark enamel and seashells. Whether or not you select to gather shells or not, everybody leaves Cumberland Island with fond recollections of a tremendous tenting journey.