Georgia Coast Saltwater Paddle Trail

Coastal Georgia is home to many historic sites and natural protected areas. One of the purposes of the GCSPT is to connect the Cumberland Island National Seashore, four State Parks, six other state protected areas, and 77 Historic Sites, as well as number of other points of interest like National Monuments, and city, county, and regional parks.

photo: Starting to Explore the Georgia Coast Saltwater Paddle Trail Type: Water Trail
Length: 189.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Allowed Uses: Boating, non-motorized: Canoeing
Boating, non-motorized: Kayaking
Camping
Fishing
Wildlife Observation
Agency:
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

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Directions

Location: Starting at Howard Gilman Waterfront Park in the City of Saint Marys and traveling north until reaching the Fishing Pier on Tybee Island, the Georgia Coast Saltwater Paddle Trail (GCSPT) provides a great opportunity for paddlers of all skill levels.
States: Georgia
Counties: Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn, Camden
Latitude: 30.72006   Longitude: -81.55032

There are a number of connections in a 1/2 dozen counties along the Georgia coast.

Description

The route has been laid out to facilitate the best use by allowing for short, medium, and long paddle trips. Access points are denoted as well as the available amenities at each location.
The oak lined streets of the small town of Saint Marys have a rich history dating back to the mid 1500's. There are two points of access within Saint Marys: the Howard Gilman Waterfront Park, and the North River Landing. Both sites allow access to the Saint Marys River and Cumberland Sound.
Just north on the trail is Cumberland Island, a Federal National Protected Seashore. The Island has many amities including historic locations, environmental studies, and camping facilities. West of Cumberland Island is the mouth of the Crooked River, home of Crooked River State Park, which has parking, lodging, camping, a store, and a well-defined and popular kayak trail.
At the north end of Cumberland Island is Saint Andrew Sound and the mouth of the Satilla River. The paddle trail follows backwater creeks around the Saint Andrew Sound to avoid a large expanse of open water that has tendencies for high winds and dangerous water conditions. The creeks in this area have few boats and unprecedented scenic tranquility that stretches north to the Little Satilla River.
From here the paddler will have the opportunity to visit Jekyll Island State Park. With its marina and boat ramp, there are many things to take in on Jekyll Island such as the historic Millionaires' Village. On the north side of Jekyll is the Brunswick River. Paddling west will take you under the 480 foot tall Sidney Lanier Bridge and on to Blythe Island Regional Park, which can be a utilized for camping, fishing, or even lake swimming.
If heading north along the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) by way of Plantation Creek, you will emerge from the reeds facing Saint Simons Island along the Frederica River. There are marinas and piers for access to the trail. Saint Simons is the most developed of Georgia's Barrier Islands, yet it still possesses a quaint and relaxed atmosphere which makes it wonderful stop off location. On the way north on the Frederica River you will pass the remnants of Fort Frederica, the southern garrison that stopped the Spanish attempts to claim the Georgia coast.
As you cross Buttermilk Sound and head into the Altamaha River, activities abound. Paddle past the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation Historic Site, stop off and eat or resupply at Two-Way Fish Camp, and enter the Altamaha Waterfowl Management Area, which includes the Historic Butler Plantation, Butler River Fishing Bridge and Champney River Landing. This point marks an intersection with another established paddle trail system on the Altamaha River. There are three access points on the GCSPT that coincide with access points in the Altamaha River State Canoe Guide: Two-Way Fish Camp, Champney River Landing, and Darien City Boat Ramp and Waterfront Park.
Across the Altamaha River is the City of Darien with its quaint storefronts and historic waterfront park. Another access point in Darien is Fort King George State Historic Site, a reconstructed 18th century British outpost.
Upon leaving Darien, paddlers will pass lush scrub oak forests and immense expanses of tidal marsh that personify the Georgia Coast. With a few stops in McIntosh County, the closest one will find to civilization is Shellman Bluff, and then there is Barbour Island at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the mainland, or Sapelo Island to the east. Sapelo Island houses the Richard J. Reynolds State Wildlife Refuge and the Gullah community of Hog Hammock.
Wandering ones way north across the Newport River is Colonels Island with available stops at the Half Moon Marina and Yellow Bluff Fishing Camp, or head further east to Fort Morris Historic Site and go birding for a variety of woodpeckers, finches, storks, and egrets. The paddle from here will take you up the ICW to Fort McAllister where a multitude of activities are available.
Once you cross the Ogeechee River you have reached the southern point of the City of Savannah at Coffee Bluff. Savannah was the first city founded in Georgia by the British under General James Oglethorpe. Savannah is a major city, but do not be fooled, there are beautiful scenic vistas and well preserved locations all along the trail. One can stop and enjoy the nearby amenities at Isle of Hope Marina or settle into a primitive campsite at Skidaway Island State Park. If you want more of the big city you can head west and visit the Town of Thunderbolt, or spend some time at F.W. Spencer Community Park. If more of the island life is what you yearn for, head east to Wilmington Island and visit Hogan's Marina, or access the trail at Turners Creek Ramp.
From there, paddle down the Bull River and head up Tybee Creek. You can stop at Lazaretto Creek Boat Ramp where you can go for a quick walk to Fort Pulaski National Monument to take in one of the many interpretive programs offered. Your trip through the marshes and rivers of Coastal Georgia will then end at the Tybee Island Fishing Pier and Pavilion on the southwestern side of Tybee Island.

Additional Details

Primary Surface: Water, moving
Secondary Surface: Water, moving

Average Grade: 0%
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Year Designated: 2012

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Brochure: Under the leadership of the Coastal Regional Commi
Map: Wall Chart of access points and trails of the Geor
Website: Georgia River Network - trail information

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Public Contact:
Ronald Sadowski
Transportation Planner
Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia
127 F Street
Brunswick , GA 31520
(912) 262-2883
rsadowski@crc.ga.gov

 

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