Horsing Around on Cumberland Island

Since nobody seemed to be a fan of kayaking with alligators, I thought I’d go with something cuter. Our last adventure in Georgia was one I had been waiting for for a very long time. Cumberland Island National Seashore has been on my list of “must visit” places for years. Every time I drove from New Hampshire to Florida I wanted to fit it in but just never could. Since we were already adventuring in Georgia, I would not be denied! Cumberland Island or Bust!

Cumberland is the largest and southern most of Georgia’s barrier islands. We would only have one day to explore and I was determined to make the most of it. We boarded the 9 am ferry in St. Mary’s and began our relaxing 45 minute journey to the island. Our fellow 148 passengers were quite a diverse group. There were cyclists, campers, hikers, fishermen and even a couple getting married.

After disembarking, we started out on the River Trail…

Cumberland Island-1996

We stopped near the edge of the sound and watched as the Cumberland Queen II headed back to St. Mary’s…

Cumberland Island-2004

The trail ends at the Ice House, this is where we got our first glimpse of the famed wild horses of Cumberland Island…

Cumberland Island-2017

Horses were originally brought to the island in the 1700’s. Now, a herd of feral horses resides on the island. They are left to there own device with no help from the National Park Service. Some of the horses we saw seemed a bit thin, but overall looked to be in decent health. And obviously are healthy enough to mate and produce colts. Steve sat down to watch at one of the picnic tables and I noticed how huge the live oak tree next to him was. I had to back up so far to get most of the tree in, you can hardly see him…

Cumberland Island-2008

You are warned to keep at least 50′ from the horses, after all, they are wild. But what do you do when you are taking a picture of the beautiful lane, lined with spanish moss laden trees…

Cumberland Island-2013

And the horses suddenly decide to cross the road, right where you are standing?

Cumberland Island-2020

You do what I did and hide behind a tree! We continued on towards the ruins of the Dungeness Mansion. Since it was nearly noon, we stopped at a picnic area and had our snacks. As I was reading the signs about the wildlife, another group of horses came by. This foal couldn’t have been more than 6 weeks old…

Cumberland Island-2066

In 1736 James Oglethorpe built a hunting lodge he called Dungeness. In 1796 Phineas Miller and his wife built a 4 story mansion on the site and named it after the lodge. In 1884 Thomas Carnegie, brother of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and his wife Lucy bought Dungeness and raised 9 children there. Today all that remains of Dungeness is a sprawling shell …

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There was a time, it looked like this…

Dungeness Mansion

Some of the outbuildings remain, as well as some of the statues…

Cumberland Island-2083

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There are several other buildings from that era which are still in use. While we were walking around the mansion, I spied another family group of horses. I thought the colt was beautiful and spent lots of time taking pictures of it…

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We were almost done checking out the mansion when an altercation broke out between the horses, I have to tell you, the horses scared me way more than the alligators!!!

Cumberland Island-2100

We continued on to the Dungeness Beach boardwalk…

Cumberland Island-2111

I watched as the fiddler crabs defended their territory in the marsh…

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At the end of the boardwalk, sand dunes create a barrier to the interior of the island…

Cumberland Island-2110

When we finally reached the beach, it seemed deserted. One of the benefits of limiting the number of visitors to the island each day is you get to see this…

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Unspoiled, salty air bliss. We walked over a mile and a half on the beach and only saw a handful of other people. We did see a horseshoe crab skeleton…

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And one of the few people we did see was kind enough to take this picture for me…


As we neared Seacamp Beach Campground, I stopped again to marvel at the gnarled live oaks and their spanish moss adornments…

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Our day was nearly over, the 4:45pm ferry would soon take us back to the mainland. Cumberland Island was everything I had imagined and more. We had walked about 6 1/2 miles and taken countless pictures to go through later.

If you’ve been thinking about visiting Cumberland Island, all I can say is DO IT! Hopefully we will return again another time to see the north end of the island.

My friend Dawn, from Random Bits of Trial and Error wrote a lovely post about her adventures on Cumberland Island, read about it here.

Thank you for coming along.

I’m a couple weeks behind, we are currently at our summer job in Wisconsin. I can’t wait to tell you about it!

What are you more afraid of feral horses or alligators?

21 thoughts on “Horsing Around on Cumberland Island”

  1. One of my most favorite places and you captured it beautifully in photographs. I love, love, love the baby horses. Was the little white one albino? He/she is stunning and will look so majestic when fully grown. The gnarled trees are a favorite of mine. To answer your question, I’m more scared of alligators, but the horses are quite intimidating. In both cases, I definitely respect their space and take photos through the zoom lens! Someone I know (hmmmm, wonder who?) can’t resist the urge to get just a little bit closer…. Love this place! Happy manatee hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dawn. I thought the baby was albino until I zoomed way in and could see her eyes. I agree, she will be stunning when she grows up! Lol, I am WAY more scared of the horses! Happy manatee hugs to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am more afraid of alligators. I had, in my younger days, was honored enough to be able to get a feral horse as a young horse. I was able to become friends with her and was later able to ride her. It was hard work. She was a really good horse after training. She was 27 years old when she crossed the horse rainbow bridge.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the difference is horses aren’t trying to murder you… they only murder you if you get in their way. Alligators? They definitely want you dead. And horses are just right there on the land. Hanging out. Doing horse stuff! Alligators? They’re creeping along under the water, waiting for some unsuspecting tourist to wander by and then Blam! You’re alligator lunch. Nope! I’ll take horsies any day!!! 😂

    Beautiful pics! Love love love the huge trees and the deserted beach and the hauntingly beautiful remnants of the mansion. Lovely place which we look forward to checking out at some point.

    We are actually in Wisconsin right now. Driving through on our way east. It’s beautiful up here!! What a great place to spend the summer!


    1. You’ll love Cumberland Island when you get there!

      Wow, if you have an extra night, we are working in Black River Falls at Lost Falls Campground, it is beautiful here! Stop in for a night! The season hasn’t really begun yet so lots of open sites and they are huge 48′ wide!


      1. We just missed you! We came across 90 yesterday and spent the night last night in Madison. Today, we’re back on the road and heading to Hammond, Indiana for the night. Then continuing east. If we’d known and had more time, we would have stopped. Next time!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Alligators scare me way more than horses, as you know. What a magical place! I’m loving your adventures and you find the most wonderful spots to visit off the beaten path.


    1. Thank you Martha. Late April was a great time to visit Georgia, snowbirds had left and summer tourists hadn’t arrived yet. We might have to make Georgia a stop every time we head to Florida!


  5. I loved this post! Thank you for sharing – beautiful pictures! It definitely takes me back to the two backpacking trips I took on Cumberland Island in the early 2000’s. The wildlife sightings are amazing: dolphins, bald eagles & a hundred other bird species, snakes, frogs, alligators, and of course the wild horses. Oh – and if you camp you’ll see plenty of fearless raccoons and armadillos!

    That foal is so, so beautiful. Was it albino? The eyes look pink. Sounds strange because my husband isn’t afraid of bears or alligators but had proposed “what if the wild horses com through and trample our tent while we are sleeping?” Cumberland Island is where my favorite live oaks grow. The oaks at sea camp have branches so low, twisty, and lateral, they make for awesome climbing trees (not that I ever got very high up). Exploring this place makes me feel like a kid.

    NPS has proposed a new management structure that will allow more people on the island and develop more campgrounds. I truly hope they do not do this! Part of what makes this place so special is its wildness.


    1. The diversity on Cumberland is amazing. I’d love to camp there for a few nights, but I think my days of tenting are over. I doubt I could get up in the morning, lol.

      My previous post was about kayaking with the alligators in Okefenokee and I have zero fear of the alligators and I have taken pictures less than 20′ from bears, but wild horses scare the bejezzus out of me. No fear of domesticated horses, just feral ones.

      Absolutely love live oaks, they have such character. I agree, 300 people on the island at a time is plenty. There are public hearing going on right now about it. I truly hope it stays as wild a it is!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. In Alaska, as you probably know, the moose are more dangerous than the bears. People give bears (and alligators) respect and distance but don’t give moose (horses) a wide enough berth.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What an incredible place! I’m with you when the horse practically leaps in front of your camera what is one to do? The beach looks out of this world and how fun to see a photo of the two of you. Looking forward to hearing more about Wisconsin!

    Liked by 1 person

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