Camping at Skidaway Island State Park February 9-12, 2020

The weather forecast was perfect for our Skidaway Island adventure. The temperature was in the high 60s and low 70s. Nights were in the high 50s and low 60s. And, there was no rain.

We chose February because those pesky bugs and aggravating mosquitoes would still be pretty much inactive, and they weren’t a problem!

Joyce packed our supplies. and then we loaded up our Shelties – Sophie and Lilly Belle.

Sophie in front seat ready to go camping
Lilly Belle likes the back
All aboard. Let’s roll!
Joyce does the driving. Sophie navigates.
I-16 Eastbound to Skidaway
Joyce focused. Crazy drivers on Interstates!
Sophie helping Joyce drive LOL
Bridge over Moon River into Skidaway Island

Moon River made famous in a song written by Savannah native, Johnny Mercer and recorded by Andy Williams.

Famous Moon River “wider than a mile. I’m crossing you in style.”
Beautiful drive into Skidaway State Park
Skidaway Island State Park entrance

We had pulled out of our driveway in Appling, Georgia, about 10am for the 166 mile trip to Skidaway Island State Park. We arrived about 2pm to check-in and receive our assigned site.

The staff is always friendly and helpful at our Georgia State Parks. 

Sarah from Fayetteville, Georgia, checked us in.

After check-in, we had to find our site. The Park’s map given to us by Sarah made it easy to locate.

Looking for our site.

Found it!

Site 62

Joyce hooked everything up. My job is to watch the Shelties and take pictures 😀.

Camping in Paradise.

Now it’s time for supper!
Nothing like hamburgers grilled over a campfire

Sophie’s ready.

It’s supper time!
Let’s eat

Time to relax. Busy hiking day tomorrow.

Sunset on Skidaway Island.

Camp fire feels good on a chilly evening

There’s nothing quite like the pale moon light over Skidaway Island while warming by the campfire. It’s a mystical experience.

We had a good night’s sleep. The night sounds and the hootie owls are like a lullaby. Sleep comes easily and quickly. And it’s a good thing. We had a lot of trail walking to do the next day.

I awoke to the delectable aroma of coffee. Joyce learned the secret of making the most delicious, coffee on a seven day wilderness horseback trek in the rugged Bob Marshall Wilderness in the Montana Rockies in August 2018.

Her coffee served with love warmed body and soul on that nippy Monday morning.

Joyce with her coffee-filled Yeti

We always meet the nicest people like David, Judy, and Lewis who we met that morning.

David is retired from the Navy. He’s the maintenance man for the State Park

Judy and Lewis were our volunteer camp hosts. They are from Ohio. Their next assignment will be Ft. McAllister.

Our volunteers render a valuable service. They clean the facilities and the sites after the guests leave. Plus, they help the campers in any way they can.

After we tanked up on coffee, we were ready for a long walk on Big Ferry Trail.

There are several fresh water sloughs on the trail like this one. They are formed from water close to the surface and are an important part of the Island’s ecosystem. Alligators inhabit them, and fortunately, we didn’t see any. The sloughs do not support fish, but frogs and salamanders love them. Turtles and birds will nest over them. The presence of alligators keep the raccoons away which would otherwise prey on their eggs and hatchlings. Nature is really something.

Interpretive signs like this one add knowledge to all who take time to read them.

Walking the Big Ferry Trail is like exploring another world. The maritime forest is quiet and impalpable. It appeals to the emotions.

Palmetto trees abound
The fork of a large live oak

Most of the live oaks and pines are second growth trees. After the Civil War, Northern interests gained control of the Island including the Union Camp Corporation (formerly Union Bag and Paper Corporation). That company consolidated its holdings and used Skidaway for pulpwood production in the 1940s. The company donated the 588 acres to the State in 1967.

Another surprise along the Big Ferry Trail was the Oyster midden left by the Timucua Indians. The Timucua probably numbered between 200,000 and 300,000 people along Georgia’s Coast and barrier islands. They were organized into various chiefdoms and spoke a common language. The earliest evidence of their presence dates from around 3000 BC. But by the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, there were perhaps only 125 remaining. Today, the tribe is extinct.

It’s pretty neat to imagine the Timucua feasting on oysters under the moss draped live oaks, telling stories, and enjoying life.

The Timuca Indians

After a brief pause at the midden, we were on our way again to enjoy the sights and wonders.

The Park has benches along the Trail. We stopped to rest and take in the surroundings.

The Trail gives outstanding views of the marsh in places like this one.

If you look carefully in this view, you will see a mansion across the marsh. The Island has been and is being developed with condos, apartments, and million dollar homes. Had the State of Georgia not stepped in and set aside these 588 acres for Skidaway Island State Park in 1975, the Park area would have been developed too.

A better view of development across the marsh

We continued our walk, and of all things, but not surprisingly, we came up on the ruins of genuine Southern entrepreneurship – a liquor still. The men used corn, water, and yeast to make the mash. It was heated, the corn and yeast were added, and then the corn liquor was siphoned off.

You would think that a liquor still on such a secluded island and in such a remote area would be secure. But nope. The “infernal” revenuers found it and busted it up as you can see from the holes made by the axe.

But wait! There’s more. We walked a little further and shortly came to a long bridge across the marsh that led to an observation tower.

The view from the top was poignant.

We left the tower and continued on our walk wandering what would be next. We didn’t have to go very far before we saw another interpretive sign explaining the Skidaway Narrows and how the Confederates used it for a defensive position.

Skidaway Island is shaded in blue

We retraced our steps and made it back to our campsite. We had walked a little over four miles and I easily got my 10,000 steps. Joyce fixed supper. After that, our neighbors came over and invited us for coffee the next morning. We meet the nicest people on our camping trips.

Charlene and John Rorabaugh from Middleburg, Florida.

After our visit, we just chilled. I checked my Facebook notices and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the approaching evening.

The next morning, we left about 10 o’clock to walk the short Sandpiper Trail.

The remainder of the day was spent reading and walking around the Campground. A surprising number camped in tents. Others had campers ranging from a luxurious Class A built on a commercial bus frame to a school bus that a talented man with a garage retooled into a really nice camper.

The next morning, it was time to load up and pull out. I’m always kinda sad to leave especially this Island Paradise. Skidaway Island had been fun, relaxing, extraordinarily exotic. and historically interesting. We’re already planning our next trip for March which will probably be historic Magnolia Springs State Park, the site of a Civil War prison camp.

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Thanks for reading.