St. Simons Island has 20 Tree Spirits carved by Keith Jennings. Keith carved intricate faces into live oak trees on public and private land around the island starting in the 1980’s. He is still carving Tree Spirits occasionally today. Each face is unique with its own story to tell. Jennings says he carves what the wood tells him to carve.
Seven of the Tree Spirits are on public land and the St. Simons Visitors Center has Tree Spirits Treasure Hunt cards you can use in finding them. We took a couple of hours to drive from place to place and find them. You could also do the treasure hunt on a bike. The treasure hunt card has a map with each location. Then you figure out which picture matches the place and write it on the card.
We started at Gascoigne Bluff which was the most difficult Tree Spirit to find because it is a large area. Mom finally spotted it and we were off on our treasure hunt. The Tree Spirit at the Visitors Center is the largest – a more than full-sized mermaid. The two Tree Spirits in Mallery Park were easy because they were clearly marked. We didn’t even have to get out of the car to find one of them. The Tree Spirit at Redfern Village was easy to find but hard to see because it was up so high. The Tree Spirit at Anderson Fine Art Gallery is missing half his face. It looks like someone tried to repair it, but he is definitely best seen in profile.
We had a good time searching together for the Tree Spirits. It was a fun way to get to know St. Simons Island better and use our exploring skills.