What a way to bring in the New Year. In January, we headed down to the Okefenokee Swamp for a 3 night, 4 day paddle in southern Georgia. The swam offered a Georgia outdoor adventure for sure. Okefenokee has the great distinction of not only being a part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, but also the National Wilderness Preservation System. This designation is given to federal lands that are affected primarily by nature and where people are only visitors.
We were all excited to see some Gators and camp on top of Platforms that are located in the swamp. Led by one of our Trip Leaders, Ariane Petrucci, we were off to do the hardest kayak/canoe route the Okefenokee has to offer.
Our first night we stayed at Traders Hill Campground which we totally recommend. It’s very close to the swamp, and it has a good camping area. Very historical also. They don’t have a website, just a FB page, but it’s fairly easy to find. The town of Folkston, GA is very close and you can get supplies in town.
The next day we woke up really early to get into the swamp by 8:00 am. We had a 11 mile day to Maul Hammock. Maul Hammock is a wooden platform that you camp on. It does have outhouse on the platform and is covered. It was a pretty easy route, but long. There is NO place to get out of your canoe/kayak and take a break. But Maul Hammock was a beautiful place to camp.
The second day we were off again early. This time we had a much harder route, but a bit shorter. A lot of brush to navigate through and sharp turns. (not easy in a 13 foot kayak) It was about 9 miles to Big Water Platform. My favorite by the way. The route to Big Water although hard, is amazing. Big Water Platform is amazing. We camped there, saw some weird lights, and enjoyed the stars.
Up early on the third day to paddle to Floyds Island. Yes, there is an island in the swamp. Floyds Island was a welcome destination. It was the first time we could get out of our Kayaks and walk around on land. It also has a old Fishing Cabin that you can still stay in today. It’s very well kept, (old however) and a relatively clean cabin. We got there relatively early (only a 5 mile paddle) and was able to explore the island. After a day of rest, we built a huge campfire kept warm. The stars were absolutely beautiful. There was a meteor shower that night, but the cold temps probably kept us in our tents longer than expected.
On our last day we had a 13 mile paddle day next to our cars. However, the route was spectacular and the sun was out. Warm sun equals Gators. We didn’t see many the first part of our trip at all. But our last day, we saw many warming on the banks on the canal. It was almost like they wanted to send us off, or tell us to get out. Either way, pretty cool.
All in all it was a great trip. We had a lot of laughs and fun. Everyday we stopped in a perfect location to have lunch or snack. Ariane did an amazing job planning our route and making it exciting. Would love to go back soon. It was truly a Georgia Outdoor Adventure in the Okefenokee Swamp