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 …

Cumberland Island-2071Cumberland Island-2074Cumberland Island-2094

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

Cumberland Island-2078Cumberland Island-2093

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…

Cumberland Island-2056Cumberland Island-2061

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…

Cumberland Island-2108

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…

Cumberland Island-2113

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…

Cumberland Island-2114

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

cumberland

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

Cumberland Island-2118

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?