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DO IT: Hiking - Bay Boardwalk Trail

Bay Boardwalk Trail -

Starting just past the park’s nature center, the Bay Boardwalk leads to a hardwood and evergreen wetland dominated by two tree species, loblolly bay and swamp bay. Even during winter, this forest appears to be a wall of dark green, dense foliage. Typical South Georgia swamps contain cypress and gum trees that appear bare during colder months. Even during summer, the shade along this trail keeps the path noticeably cooler.

A creek is visible for portions of the trail and while it may appear murky, the freshwater, which comes from rainfall and seepage, is remarkably clear. You’ll also see from the trail that downed trees, along with leaf and other vegetative matter, decay to form a layer of peat that can be many feet thick. The highly acid soil forms a fire-resistant base for the forest which, thanks to this organic composition, holds moisture except in times of extreme drought.

An observation tower sits just less than halfway along the loop trail, providing users a great view of the forest. Birders may spot red-bellied woodpecker, pileated woodpecker, flicker, sapsucker, yellowthroat warbler, pine warbler, Northern parula warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, nuthatch, great crested flycatcher, Acadian flycatcher, barred owl, great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, and migratory songbirds and raptors.

Following the loop toward the east, the Bay Boardwalk trail runs into the Palmetto Trail, which connects to the pioneer campgrounds and cottages as well as the other trails on the far side of the park. Stay left to continue back toward the nature center and complete this easy, kid-friendly loop. 

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