Cumberland Island National Seashore

Hayley Adkins tells us about her recent trip to Cumberland Island National Seashore and why she loves the natural beauty and cultural preservation.

Cumberland Island National Seashore

On February 16th, 2018, I visited Cumberland Island. The island is off Georgia’s southeast coast is the largest barrier island in Georgia. I first visited the island in 2014 and fell in love, so for my birthday I decided to return. When visiting through the National Park Service, you can take a guided tour of the north side of the island, camp for several nights, or hike and explore on your own. First, we had to catch the ferry and ride for 45 minutes to the island since there are no bridges or roadways to get you out there.

The ferry to Cumberland Island.

The ferry to Cumberland Island.

Once we arrived, we hiked around the south end of the island and saw many interesting and beautiful sights. We decided to hike down toward the Carnegie mansion ruins. Along the trails, there were signs reminding us right where we were walking thousands of years earlier Native Americans once walked the same land. We passed by wild horses, deer, and bobcats.


Wild horses are a big draw for island visitors.


Approaching the Carnegie mansion ruins.

Once we got to the ruins, we stayed and looked around for a while. In the 1880’s, Thomas Carnegie (the brother of Andrew Carnegie) built a 59-room Queen Anne style mansion. The reason it is referred to as “The Ruins” is because in 1959 the mansion lit up in flames allegedly due to arson. The National Park Service has preserved the remains of the mansion for visitors. Although it is nearly in crumbles, it is still beautiful and breathtaking. My friend and I discussed if the mansion should be rebuilt, she thought it should because it was so extravagant, and she would like to see how the inside was. I took the side of preserving the ruins to show the effects of arson.

the ruins

The Carnegie mansion, aka “The Ruins”

Once we were done being mesmerized by the ruins, we followed some horses around. Then we made the journey to the beach to have lunch. On the way to the beach, we walked through the forest by gravesites and atop the marshland on wooden pathways. After relaxing at the beach, we made the journey back to the dock. We passed by the campgrounds and more trails to complete our walking-filled day.


Cumberland Island beach

I plan to visit Cumberland annually and take as many people as I can to see Georgia’s natural beauty. The Park Service’s preservation efforts and some private organizations’ endeavors keep the uniqueness and originality of the island alive for many generations to come. Everyone should make the trip to Cumberland Island at least once.


Happy visitors! (All pictures courtesy of Hayley Adkins)

For more information on how to visit Cumberland Island:

For information on history, conservation efforts, and visitor information visit:

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