Crooked River State Park, St. Marys, Georgia

After our excellent lunch at Riverside Café, Tom and I headed to Crooked River State Park to get in some hiking.  Because we have been coming to the area for so long, we are checking out some of the state parks that are close by.  We considered getting a park pass for Georgia.  But a day pass is only $5 and a state park pass is $50 and doesn’t get us into any state historic sites or on Jekyll Island.  Not worth it.

Submarine coming out of the grass at Kings Bay

Crooked River State Park is about 10 miles north of historic St. Marys.  In order to get there we drove by Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.  We got to see the submarine coming out of the lawn at the base entrance.  Spur 40 ends at Crooked River and the entrance to the park is just before the river.  The park itself is fairly small, only 500 acres, but is a wonderful place for outdoor recreation.  There is hiking, paddling, kayaking, fishing, bird watching, and camping.

We got our day pass at the park Visitors Center.  I also picked up a good trail map and a guide to Georgia State Parks.  Then we parked at the picnic pavilion area and headed out on the Palmetto Trail.  The Palmetto Trail highlights the pine flatwoods ecosystem.  The habitat is dominated by longleaf pine, saw palmetto, and wiregrass.

We intended to combine the Palmetto Trail with the Bay Boardwalk Trail but we couldn’t find the boardwalk.  We found the Nature Center and the Observation Tower, both supposedly on the Boardwalk Trail.  But we couldn’t find the trail beyond those things.  They became out and back destinations for us.  We met some other hikers who couldn’t find their way back to the campground.  Tom showed them the map and got them pointed in the right direction.

Long leaf pines
Big pine cone
Cliffs at Crooked River
Camping Cabins

We followed the Palmetto Trail to the camping cabins and then took the river trail down to Crooked River.  There was a sign on the trail that warned about dangerous cliffs, but this area is so flat we didn’t take it seriously.  Until we got to the river and saw that there really were some cliffs.  The tidal river has worn away the shore so that there is about a 15 feet drop to the shore.  It really was a cliff, although made of sand and not rock.

We walked along the river and passed a very nice playground behind the cabins.  Then we walked through the campground to check it out.  There are 63 campsites, all with electricity.  The premier campsites are very spacious with electricity and water.  It looked like a good place to stay and relax for a while.

We enjoyed our visit to Crooked River State Park.  It was a beautiful place to hike and enjoy some sunshine and warmer temperatures.