Cannons Point Preserve was one of the places most severely damaged by the two hurricanes that came through the area. When we were here last year, the Preserve wasn’t open at all until February because there were so many trees down. For most of the year it was only open only one day a week – Saturdays. Just as all the trees were cleared, Hurricane Irma struck.
Although fewer trees fell, the buildings and structures on the property sustained a lot of damage. As one of the volunteers told me, “Hurricane Matthew was a wind event, Hurricane Irma was a flooding event and they each caused different kinds of damage.” On our recent visit to Cannons Point Preserve, we saw boarded up buildings and boardwalks that looked like they had been twisted by a giant’s hand.
Because of its restricted hours, Tom and I never had a chance to walk around Cannons Point Preserve last year. So we were eager to go check it out this year. Mom and Dad, who are spending some time here, went with us.
Entrance is free to Cannons Point Preserve, but they do ask that you sign in. When you sign in you can pick up a map of the grounds. The Preserve is 608 undeveloped acres on the northern end of St. Simons Island. It has six miles of salt marsh, a tidal creek, and river shoreline. The tract contains the last intact maritime forest on the the island. There are two main trails: a short nature trail by the parking area and a 5 mile out-and-back trail that runs along the shoreline. Currently the Preserve is open Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 9 to 3.
Cannons Point Preserve was originally Cannons Point Plantation. John Couper purchased the land in 1793 for a cotton plantation. He also experimented with citrus trees, grapes, date palms, mulberry trees for silk production, sugar cane, and olive trees. John Couper was considered a leading agricultural innovator. Cannons Point was the ancestral home of many Gullah Geechee still living in Coastal Georgia. Today, if you walk the long trail, you can see some remains of the plantation if you hike or bike the long trail. I may write some more about that if Tom and I have a chance to hike it.
Although we only saw a small portion of the preserve, we were impressed by the age of the trees and the natural beauty of the place. We saw a woodstork, lots of egrets and other shore birds. Several live oaks appeared older than any we have at Fort Frederica. We also saw the tabby remains of a cow dip and a barn built in 1920.
So much of St. Simons Island is developed. It is good to have Cannons Point Preserve as a place where nature is undisturbed. If you want to take a walk in the woods or along the salt marsh, this is the place to go on the island.