Cumberland Island camping guide: campsites at Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia

Cumberland Island Camping Guide

Camp Cumberland Island's serene shores. Our Cumberland Island camping guide reviews the island's Sea Camp campsites and its remote, backcountry backpacking sites.

 

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a beautiful, serene shoreline on Georgia’s southern Atlantic coast. Once the opulent residence of the uber-wealthy Carnegie family, most of Cumberland Island’s incredible beauty is protected as a National Seashore. Wild horses and armadillo roam the island amidst ruins of deserted Carnegie mansions, and dozens of miles of deserted, serene shoreline flanked with wide, sandy beaches stretch along the Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Cumberland Island in Georgia: camping and backpacking guide

The island’s only access is by ferry, and reservations are almost always required. So once you’ve finally set your feet on Cumberland, why not stay awhile? Reserve a Cumberland Island campsite in advance for a multi-day adventure on this incredible seashore.

Camp at Georgia's remote, serene and exceptionally beautiful Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cumberland Island camping

There are a few options for camping on the island: walk-in camp sites at Sea Camp, and backpacking-accessible backcountry campsites. The Sea Camp sites are a convenient half mile from the Sea Camp dock, and the National Park Service provides large-wheeled carts to haul your gear to your camp site. There are three backcountry campsites on Cumberland Island: Hickory Hill (5.5 miles from Sea Camp, island interior), Yankee Paradise (7.5 miles from Sea Camp – island interior), and Brickhill Bluff (10.5 miles from Sea Camp, on the Brickhill River). View a Cumberland Island PDF map.

Backpacking or camp on the remote, beautiful Cumberland Island on Georgia's southern coast

Fires are permitted in dedicated fire rings at the Sea Camp and Stafford Beach sites only. So if you’re backpacking to one of the backcountry sites and cooking your meals, you’ll need to pack a backpacking stove and fuel. I packed my Jetboil Sol Titanium all-in-one cooking system for hot meals at night and pre-hike hot coffee in the cool island mornings.

Cumberland Island backcountry campsites

The inland backcountry campsites on Cumberland Island are sufficiently cleared to allow for multiple tents. The island’s level, sandy ground makes pitching and staking a tent a cinch. I’d packed my 2-person Marmot Pulsar backpacking tent, and opted to skip the rainfly – the weather forecast was for clear, dry nights under starry skies. The Marmot’s ample mesh construction was perfect for keeping insects out, but allowing the constant sea breeze to flow through the tent. There are no amenities at the backcountry sites. You’ll need to pack in everything you need for the night – fresh water, food, first aid and survival supplies, and gear.

Camp at Sea Camp, Cumberland Island National Seashore's prime camping area

Sea Camp’s amenities are limited, but offer considerably more than the backcountry sites. Cold water showers and fresh water are available. Sea Camp offers 16 leveled tent sites with picnic tables, and dense saw palmetto foliage offers privacy between the camp sites.

Camp at Georgia's Cumberland Island, and set your basecamp at Sea Camp. Cumberland Island camping & backpacking guide.

After exploring the island’s beaches and turning in for the night, I hang all food and anything fragrant via rope in a tall tree. Raccoon roam the island, as do hungry, curious horses, and rodents. I gather everything fragrant in a sturdy bag and hoist via a length of rope onto a sturdy branch away from the tree trunk and surrounding branches. How high? Imagine a horse, standing on its hind legs rearing up towards the sky… that high, plus a few feet for safety.

Falling asleep beneath the abundant stars on a clear night, with the ocean’s breeze flowing through my backcountry site is incomparable. The sound of the waves crashing, sea breezes flowing through the live oak and insects’ continual hum will provide nature’s lullaby at night.

Backpack, hike and camp Georgia's Cumberland Island, a wonderland of saw palmetto, wild horses, gnarly oak trees and Spanish moss

However, anything, of any size, moving through the rigid, raspy leaves of the saw palmetto ground cover sounds decidedly huge. Sleep comes easy after a day of adventure and adrenaline – but I’m woken by mysterious noises outside my tent several times through the night.

Waking at dawn on the island is nothing but magical. A light dew covers my tent, the sand, the saw palmettos. With luck, no horses have wrangled my food stash. After coffee, I take an early morning hike to the beach before hiking to Cumberland Island’s southern end to explore salty marshes, beaches, and magnificent Dungeness mansion ruins.

Cumberland Island Campsites & Trails: Directions & Details

Parking

Free parking is available in St Marys at the Cumberland Island Ferry dock. See the official Cumberland Island NPS website for ferry fee, camping fee and entrance fee information.

Please Remember

Always leave no trace and follow these trail etiquette tips.

GPS Coordinates

30.720477, -81.550551     //     W30 43.229 W81 33.033

Driving Directions


Elevation Profile

Cumberland Island Hiking & Backpacking Trails Elevation Profile

Cumberland Island Campsites & Trails Map

Trail data and photos © Summit19 Studio LLC. This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
 
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.

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