Visiting Florida's state parks and beyond in our Roadtrek. This is how we saw it all. Hopefully, the posts will give you some useful information. Questions and comments are welcome.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Side Trip to Jekyll Island, Georgia.

We took a day trip to Jekyll Island, GA when we were at Ft. Clinch State Park, Florida. The island is a Georgia state park even though there are a lot of private homes and businesses present.  A great day trip or spend a few days there.  Plenty to see and do.  Great golf course, beaches, hotels, campground, museum, sea turtle center, etc.

We drove in from I-95.  If you come from Brunswick down Hwy 17 you get to cross the Sydney Lanier Bridge.

The first stop we made was at the Great Dune Park.  


 Very nice pavilions and boardwalks to.....

....the beach.   Not much beach right now.  High tide.

While driving north we ran across the Horton House ruin.  Once an elegant plantation home of Major William Horton, second in command of General James Oglethorpe.  The house was built around 1740 and made of "tabby", a mixture of sand, water and lime obtained from burning oyster shells.

A bridge crossing a marshy area on the N. Loop Trail, a paved bicycle loop around the island.

More of the marsh land around the north end.
Moving along we came to the island campground. A large shady RV/tent campground with full hook-ups, camp store, playgrounds, etc.  A world of difference than the many high-end resorts and hotels on the island.  While nice, we like the camping way to go these days.

Across from the entrance to the campground is the road to Driftwood Beach and Jekyll Fishing Center.   There is a little park with pavilions, picnic benches and a bridge to fish the marsh river. 

There is also a huge fishing pier and boat ramp to enable fishing in deeper waters.

The pier offers a good view of the bridge to Brunswick.

Adjacent to the fishing pier is Driftwood beach.

Cross the bridge and walk the beach or take the Driftwood Beach Trail by foot or bike for a long venture into the woods and marsh on the north side of the island.

More specimens of driftwood on the beach.

 On the south end of the island is St. Andrews picnic area and beach. A very nice beach park and picnic area to spend the day.  Parking, pavilions, picnic tables, etc.

A bar and grill, restaurant, pier fishing, and marina adjacent to the Historic District.

 Along with the Jekyll Island Club, there are some very nice homes transformed into shoppes, galleries, etc, along with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Jekyll Island Museum.

Besides he Historic District more shopping can be found at the newer shopping complex near the convention center.  A wide variety of retailers. 

On the way to Jekyll Island we stopped off at the King's Bay Submarine Base.  Due to the recent Paris terrorist attacks, the base was closed and no tours scheduled.  Bummer.

And finally, an unashamed plug for this restaurant at the Great Dunes Park.  Great Mexican food, dine indoors or out overlooking the dunes.  

Good food, nice folks.

A Week at Florida's Fort Clinch State Park

Another great Florida state park with a bit of history as a bonus.  This park has two campsite loops, River side (well shaded) and ocean side (no shade).  It is located on Amelia Island and is within the city limits of Fernandina Beach.

While we like the beach, we prefer the wooded campground on the Amelia River.  Lots of shade.  The other campground is a couple of miles away on the ocean side.  No shade at all, and seemingly a little more crammed together. But, to each his own.  Also, at the ocean loop are 6 defined tent sites.  Site #24.  Not deep, but wide.

The Amelia River loop is paved on one side....

.....and unpaved on the other.  All sites are level, shaded and have good side privacy. And, 50/30/20 amp electric, and water.  The restrooms/showers are outstanding.

The road to the Amelia River campground loop is 3 miles of pretty shaded windy road.  Paralleling the road on both sides is the main bike/hike trial.  Drive carefully as in the morning and evening we saw several deer crossing from one side to the other. One night after dark we rounded a curve and saw a silver fox in the middle of the road. There are bears reportedly in the park, also.

The 6 mile trail.  It starts at the fort parking lot, parallels the entrance road, crosses the road near the ranger station and winds back to the fort.  If 6 miles is a bit long, there are occasional short cuts to the entrance road.  Hikers may travel in both directions.  Bikers must travel in one direction.  A rule not really followed. So, be aware as you travel the trail.  There are level spots, a few short straights, but mostly curves and elevation changes.  Interesting trail.

The trail is hard packed sand, shady and sometimes narrow.

Some of the path is a little more wide open.

Most of the elevation changes are packed sand, but a few are paved. This one is paved with garden pavers.  One of the high speed run areas.

And, this one paved with flagstone.  Maybe a 20 foot drop.  Or, climb. Slippery when wet. 

There are a couple of shorter trails into the swamp area of Egan's Creek that are good for spotting the local wildlife.  Moderate hikes of 20 minutes or 50 minutes duration.  Longer if you spot things of interest and photograph them.  Alligators and snakes live here.

Amelia Island Lighthouse on Egan's Creek from an observation deck on the entrance road.

The swamp/marsh of Egan's Creek.

Along the main entrance road is the remains of an oil bunker used to fire the channel beacon that once stood here.  All that remains are the concrete tower footers.

As you approach the turn into the Atlantic Beach campground you can't help notice the large sand dunes.  The 6 mile trail is just over the ridge.

Another attraction at Fort Clinch.  The half mile long fishing pier out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Across the dunes and into the Atlantic.

A half mile walk to the end.  A jetty parallels the pier protecting the beach.

Looking south from the pier. 

Sand Piper waiting for a tidbit

Most of the fishing starts about half way out. 

Fort Clinch

Built to protect the entrance to Cumberland Sound and the mouths of the Amelia and St. Mary's rivers in 1847 after the end of the Second Seminole War, it was first occupied by  Union troops.  The only battle to occur at Ft. Clinch was when Union troops recaptured the fort in 1862 after Confederate forces seized control the previous year. Fort Clinch served as the base of Union operations in the area throughout the Civil War.  In 1935, the State of Florida bought 256 acres on Amelia Island that included the then abandoned fort and the surrounding area. Fort Clinch State Park was developed by the CCC and opened to the public in 1938.  Fort Clinch is included in the park.

Before entering the fort, it is best to visit the small museum to watch the 7 minute video to get an understanding of what they are seeing in the fort just in case you don't get a guided tour by one or more of the in-character guides.  There are a lot of interesting items and information in the museum.

The entrance to the fort.

Upon crossing the wooden drawbridge and passing through the portal you are looking at the parade field and Storehouse & Dispensary, upper floor, and Quartermaster & Sutler below. 

Inside the jail house, one of the first buildings constructed.  Was there a message thereThe door on the left is maximum (solitary - no windows,lights) confinement, the door on the right, medium confinement.  The main room is minor confinement. 

Enlisted men's barracks.

The buildings in the far background are, l to r, unfinished barracks, kitchens and laundry.

One of five bastion galleries (tunnels) leading to the outer defensive forts or bastions.  Also used as access to the outer wall.

Cannon in the bastion.


One of four curtain wall galleries; access to the outer wall.

Cannons mounted on the parapet atop the earthen rampart. To the right is the outer wall. In the center is one of five bastions, a defensive fort outside the fort.

Ten inch Rodman cannon mounted on the rampart. Pretty good chunk of cast iron.

Fernandina Beach

Fernandina Beach has a nice well layed out historic section that includes the harbor area.  There are many shops and restaurants of all types.  Nice walk around on a sunny, cool day.  There is the main street, Centre St., but there are several other shops to visit on the side streets and the harbor area.


Sweet treats in one of the shops.  They had good real ice cream, too.

First time I've been to an olive oil tasting.  Didn't know there were so many flavors of olive oil.  Decisions, decisions.

Jimmy Buffet's blown out flip-flop?

Sunset across the Amelia River looking from the park at the river's edge where the campground loop makes a 180 turn.  There are benches and hammocks here and it is a good spot for fishing the river.