Tree Lovers Paradise Continued!

Posted by: Rick Pariani in Uncategorized

Here is a recipe for a successful venture on Cumberland Island – whether for your first trip, or many returns: Rise and ready yourselves and have a breakfast at your favorite spot.  Drive to St. Marys, arriving before 11:00 AM.  Check in at the Park Service water-front welcome center and proceed to get on the 11:45 AM ferry service to the island.  Depart the ferry at the Ice House Dock / Dungeness Dock on the island at about 12:20.  Gather up your party and strike out beneath the Live Oaks for the Dungeness Ruins.  Along the way, look for the wild horses, turkey, deer, the ubiquitous armadillo and myriad bird species.  Take the shore trail from Dungeness to the marsh-side boardwalk – then to the open dune system.  Cross the dune trail to the wide, wide beach.  Walk the beach and marsh-wrack line (looking for shells and other flotsam jewels), north to the Sea Camp boardwalk.  Stroll the boardwalk up to the Live Oak tree line – making sure to stop and linger in the open sun before venturing into the Maritime Forest.  Be very observant at this point and take it slow – for the transition from the open, squinty, harsh, wind-swept and sun-drenched beach environment to the sheltered, shady, cool, dark and quiet forest floor beneath the swaying Live Oak canopy is a remarkable and dramatic change.  Let it envelope you, enjoy it and open your senses to it.  Pick out a picnic table and serve yourselves your homemade lunch treats, along with a good (discreet) bottle of wine.  Afterwards, benefit from the Sea Camp facilities, freshen-up and embark on the Parallel Trail through a luxurious habitat of bent and twisting Live Oak canopies and an exuberant, green understory of Saw Palmetto, ultimately arriving at the Greyfield Inn cross island beach path.  Take the path, west, to the grounds of the Greyfield Inn housed in the former Stafford House, erected in 1909 (be discreet, signs say “guests only”).  Check out a few of the largest Live Oak trees on Cumberland Island which punctuate the Great Lawn of the Greyfield, they are truly magnificent.  Take the Main Road back to Sea Camp and the rest facilities at the dock.  Arrive by 4:15 so that you will not miss the afternoon ferry which departs sharply at 4:30PM.  Arrive home in time to change and go to dinner, where you can re-live your day and commit it to memory – you will certainly want to return many more times to discover all of the other benefits that time on Cumberland reveals.  Once you do, you will want to add Jekyll Island State Park, St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sapelo Island National Estuarine Sanctuary and Tybee Island to your future explorations.  When you too fall in love with the Georgia Coast, you will want to make extra plans to get yourself onto Little Cumberland Island, Sea Island, St. Catherines Island, Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge, Ossabaw Island State Heritage Preserve and Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge.
I should add too that all of these great places are the best places to grow your admiration and appreciation for the grand, old Southern Live Oak – just like I did.  We need more Johnny Appleseeds – planting more Live Oaks for the enjoyment of future generations.  Learning about native Live Oaks in your region’s backyard is a wonderful way to get sensitized to the incredible nature that surrounds us and our Jacksonville golf course homes.


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