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Moss-draped oak forests, soothing saltwater marshes, trickling tidal creeks, and broad and firm white-sand beaches, all on a 37,000-acre barrier island-sounds like the perfect place for a resort with hotels and golf courses. But Cumberland Island on the south Georgia coast remains steadfastly wild and pristine.
Only 120 campers are allowed to join the island’s 100 or so permanent residents at any one time, which both preserves the rare and beautiful ecosystem and makes for magnificent isolation. Bypass the first campsite you come to just a half mile from the ferry dock at Sea Camp Ranger Station. It has 16 developed campsites and a capacity of 60 people. You want one of the four primitive sites-three are in the federal Wilderness Area-that are restricted to no more than 20 people. The most distant is about 101/2 miles from the dock via trails or beach. All sites must be reserved.
Where: 240 miles southeast of Atlanta and 340 miles south of Charlotte. Ferries dock at the end of GA 40 in St. Marys.
Maps: Along with ferry schedules and reservations, maps are available free from the park office (see below).
Trail Info: Cumberland Island National Seashore, (912) 882-4335.