Exploring Ft. George Island
in NE Florida

At the
The Nature SiTe photos, information, stories, links to Nature, Birding, the Environment, and the enjoyment of the outdoors.

internet keyword: The NATURE SiTeRN
The Nature SiTe photos - Great Egret at pond on Ft. George Island, Florida, USA
Great Egret
Along the "bike trail" described below, near pond at head of Garden Creek, Ft. George Island, Florida, USA
Discover the birds of NE Florida
    Ft. George Island State Cultural Site is part of Florida's "The Talbot Islands GEOPark". On the island are several park features: The Saturiwa Trail, a 4.3 mile loop on the island road covering many of the historical and geographic points on the island (from Native American sites through the European and U.S. eras), the bike trail, a 2 to 3 mile route on the old Ribault Club golf fairways and service paths, the Rollins Bird and Plant Sanctuary, and the NPS (National Park Service) Kinsley Plantation Historic Site.
    On these pages you will find photos and some maps, based on FPS (Florida Park Service) sketches, that have been updated with information gathered during severa1 Sierra Club walks, and a few other visits to the island. Also, some narative is provided with information derived from the FPS information on the Saturiwa Trail, and NPS brochures.

The material on this page is copyrighted 2001 by C.Kling and is from the forthcoming book "Discovering North East Florida on the Trails".

   
Other
NE Florida
outings
      Driving Instructions

    This page describes the "bike trail", a trail for mountain bikes and walking on the old fairways and service paths of the Ribault Club golf course. You can view and download a map of the whole island from the link below the trail map. Provided here is information about the trail and and features of the island.
    For more detailed information about the cultural and geographic features of the island you will need to pick up brochure from the Florida Park Service and the National Park Service (Kinsley Plantation).

FL. Parks Little Talbot Is. site with a link to the Ft. George page.
National Park Service - Kinsley Plantation
http://www8.myflorida.com/communities/learn/stateparks/district2/fortgeorge/index.html

Now on the Ft. George Island Page: more photos from around the island taken during some Sierra Club outings, and my own outings. Maps have been worked on also. [ 15 oct 2001 ]
Additions, and new information included on this page in the future will be noted here.

If you have any comments, pictures or other contributions please send a message using the contact form link near the end of this page.
Pages content created and maintained by C.A.Kling.

Parking at [1] and [4]

[1] is the starting point, START on the map just above [28]. This is the parking lot of the Ribault Clubhouse built in 1928 and now in the process of renovation. A report is available on the FPS web site. Prior to the Club was the Ft. George Hotel built in 1875 which burned about 14 years later.
        Various evidence points to this island being inhabited for the last 5000 to 7000 years. The European era apears to have begun in 1562 when Jean Ribault first arrived at Ft. George Is. and the mouth of the River of May (what we now call the St. Johns River) and hence Mayport.
        Ft. George Is. is the southernmost of the sea islands along the NE Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts. Some of the marshes around the island are the only class II marshes in NE Florida. A surprising variety of flora and fauna is found on the island, from ferns and orchids to foxes and almost 200 species of birds. [ Discover the birds of NE Florida ]

click here for a larger map of the entire island.

[2] Mount Cornelia "At 65 feet above sea level, Mt. Cornelia is reputed to be the highest point along the Atlantic coastline south of North Carolina's Outer Banks. This abrupt slope marks the southern end of an ancient dune field paralleling the island's northeast shoreline." [from FPS pamphlet "The Saturiwa Trail"]

[3] End of pavement, from here on around the island past the Kinsley Plantation and back to the split near the Tabby house it is a dirt road. Note: the speed limit on the entire island is 20 mph, but be careful of human and animal "traffic" on the narrow road with many blind curves.

[4] Small parking lot at one end of the 6th fairway and the trail to Point Isabella. From the point you can see up and down the Ft. George River, Little and Big Talbot Islands. There are hawks, ospreys, egrets, herons, sandpipers, pelicans, gulls, terns, fish, and much more to see. It's a great place to stop for a snack on your walk. "During the plantation era of the 18th and 19th centuries, Point Isabella, ... may have served as the plantation's warfing facility. ... The concrete seawall visible today was part of a marina development proposed by Admiral Blue." [from FPS pamphlet "The Saturiwa Trail"]

NOTE: Very little information, if any, is supplied by FPS on the island. A few items are available at the trail starting point, the Ribault Club parking lot [point 1]. For more information, you will have to visit the Little Talbot Is. information station.

        The map to the left shows the bike and walking trails around the old fairways. Both the location and shape of the fairways and the trails are approximate, but should be good enough to keep you on track and get you back to the starting point. (I have recently checked them against some aerial photographs and updated the maps. CAK 23 Nov 2000)
      The numbered boxes correspond to the FPS interest points on the Saturiwa Trail brochure. The lettered points on the fairway trail are references for the description and times in the following narative.

The bicycle (and walking) trail start immeadiately across the road from the Ribault Club. There is ample parking here. You might first want to walk down to the Ft. George River behind the Club and look for the many marine and shore birds. The oaks and the palms on the way are usually melodious with birds as well.
        The majority of the trail is on the old fairways or service paths along or connecting fairways of the Ribault Club which were in use from 1928 to 1991. Some of the areas have been replanted with pines. However, in most of the fairways there is a natural progression of native plants taking place.
        On about 2/3 of the walk you will be at least partially exposed to the sun, while the rest is in the oak hammock or through the pines. Most of the year you will need insect repellant.
        The following list some points to pause and observe along the way and the approximate time between points at a moderate pace.

A - approx.15 min. after rounding the end of the fairway and heading back eastward you pass, on your left, about 30 or 40 feet from a pond which is the near the head of "Garden Creek", a portion of the salt marsh intruding into the island. Several Black Crowned Night Herons, snowy egrets, and other birds can be seen along the shore and perched in the trees surrounding the pond.
B - approx. 8 min from the pond (A) the brush here near the intersection of 4 fairways has grown quite high, and pines are starting to grow tall as well. Animals along the ground, warblers, sparrows, and other birds can be heard through here. Hawks and Turkey Vultures may be seen in the sky above.
C - approx. 4 min from B on a section of trail away from the fairway and in the pines and oaks you cross over the head of San Juan Creek. Since the creek is tidal it is sometimes just mud, other times full of water. A variety of butterflies are seen on the flowers around here. Animals and birds are often in and around the water.
D - As you quietly round this corner, watch for Osprey in the tall dead tree.
E - There is a sign here describing the UNF project to gather information on Osprey.
As you round the north end of this fairway, you have a choice. Turn right (east) and go out to the road then right along the roadway back to the starting point. ( You may be able to cut into the fairway on the E side of the road, but I don't yet have the full extent of any path along here). You can continue north toward Point Isabella. Cross the road at [4] and proceed along the fairway to the norht end (past F}. the trail forms a T, to the left (west) it leads to the Kinsley Plantation, to the right (east) to Point Isabella.

at several points (F, G, and ?s) there are paths where the trail splits, these look fairly well traveled, however at this time I haven't explored them, therefore I can't tell where they go. If you walk these paths, please let me know.

The loop without going to Point Isabella takes about an hour, with a few stops to observe the scenery, plants, and animals. If you head north to Point Isabella, then return back to the roadway, add another 40 minutes plus your stop at the point.
       

If you have a web site or want to create a web site with a nature and/or environment topic in NE Florida. A link from the "The NATURE SiTe"RN, or pages hosted at the "The NATURE SiTe"RN are available. Use the contact page below to let us know your topic and interests. Your email address at one of many nature domains such as:
Get your nature or environment email address at www.naturemail.net
@NatureMail.to,
@Environment.st,
@BirdEMail.com,
@Sierra.NatureMail.to
get yours at www.NatureMail.net
Other
NE Florida
outings
    photos   Driving Instructions
click "The NATURE SiTe"RN   contact pageto contact the webmaster, or this page editor with your questions, comments, and suggestions, or if you are interested in editing one of "The NATURE SiTe"RN pages or sections.

"The NATURE SiTe"RN
home is at
www.NATURE.st

Keep up to date on important environmental issues. View photos, articles, and other information about nature, the environment, outdoor activities and more.
"The WaterFall SiTe" "The BIRD SiTe"
home is at
www.Birds.ST
  All photographs and text on these Ft. George Island pages Copyright 2000 by C.Kling,
except as otherwise noted


 best viewed with any browser    
"The Nature SiTe"RN Design, hosting and maintenance by Sky Island Systems