River Trail, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

Jacksonville, GA
Length: 0.80 mi.
Type: Out & Back

About This Trail

[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

ACTIVITIES: Hiking, camping, kayaking, historical tours

LENGTH OF HIKE: 0.8 mile

OUT AND BACK OR LOOP: Out and back



PARKING FEE/PASS: National park fee (free parking)




BIKES/HORSES/MOTORS ON TRAIL: Potential for wild horses. No bikes on River Trail.




GEAR SUGGESTIONS: Bug spray, sunscreen

Arriving at Cumberland Island feels like you’re no longer in Georgia. Live oaks with hanging Spanish moss and saw palmettos cover the landscape. There are wild horses all over the island and a beautiful white sand beach where sea turtles can be found nesting at certain times of the year.

This is why Hike it Baby ambassador Melissa Hollingsworth insisted on this magical place. “The beach—I mean, it’s the beach—so that’s always amazing with a toddler. But besides being able to spend 4 hours playing in the sand, there’s lots of
shade under the oak trees and the potential to look for sea turtle nests in the right season, so that just adds to the adventure.” Melissa suggested the River Trail as a great starting point, but this can be combined with other toddler-friendly hikes on the island, like the Dungeness Trail. Another trail to look for is the Parallel Trail. The end of this hike offers ruins and is a good place to view the wild horses. The horses are very accustomed to people. As long as you keep a respectful distance from them, they will keep their distance from you.

But that’s not all of the wildlife you’ll find on this amazing island. Also look for horseshoe crabs, many species of birds, and deer catching some shade under live oaks with brilliantly colored hanging moss.

Keep in mind this is the South, and it’s incredibly buggy in summer. If you know the climate, you will expect it. If you are new to the area, be aware of mosquitoes, swarming gnats, and ticks. While the insects are annoying, you can look at it as just a little bit of the challenge that comes with nature. The reason we like this adventure is that crowds are limited to the number of ferry tickets sold per day (and they do sell out!), so you will not find the island overrun in the summer months like many other places. That said, weekdays are better for limited crowds. There is  plenty of parking at St. Marys for your car, and the only cars on the island are the guided tour shuttle buses, which means you can sit back and relax as you journey from hike to hike.

Want to get around more easily? Consider bringing a bike and trailer. Not all of the trails and roads allow bikes, so be sure to plan accordingly. If you decide to camp, plan to book months in advance. There are wagons to help you get your things to camp; however, the best thing is to bring your own wagon. Pack it before you board the ferry and then wheel it directly off the boat and straight to camp. No need to wait for more wagons to become available. There is a 0.5-mile walk to camp, but that’s what adds to the fun! There are flush toilets and showers; wood and ice are delivered two times a day on the ferry. There is no store available, though, so you must bring all food and supplies to the island. On that note, be sure to store food properly. The raccoons are very people savvy and know what they are doing when it
comes to finding food. They are sneaky but actually really fun for the kids to watch as they scurry around camp.

“Besides the amazing scenery and the beautiful beaches, I think my favorite part is the fact that, for the whole day, weekend, or week that you are there, your whole world becomes the island. Because you don’t have immediate access to your car, there is no question of where you are supposed to be. There is no temptation to rush back to your hurried life, to get sidetracked on an errand you didn’t need to run. Your only agenda is to enjoy the time with your family in this beautiful place until the boat returns to pick you up.” —MELISSA HOLLINGSWORTH

Before you head out to the island, look for the amazing playground on the mainland within walking distance of the visitor center. Use it to get the wiggles out before your ferry ride or to convince your kids to get back in the car after your return trip.

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Trail Features

Seasons Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains No
Bathrooms Yes
Cell reception Excellent
Pet friendly No
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby No
Emergency support
within 5 miles

Trail highlights

Trail Contributor

[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

Hike it Baby Trail Guide is managed by the Family Trail Guide team. If a trail has been “abandoned” by the initial owner, it gets adopted by the team. Also, if there are no trails in the area, the Family Trail Guide team researches trails that are family friendly in the area to insure that hikes cover all areas where Hike it Baby hikes.


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