Explore coastal beauty at Skidaway Island State Park, hiking the Sandpiper Trail and Avian Loop to scenic views of salt flats, marsh, tidal creeks, and stunning sunsets.
LOCATION:near Savannah, Georgia
Moss drapes Skidaway Island’s coastal forest, where gnarled live oak, pine, and palm trees frame grassy, salty marsh. It’s a sun-drenched landscape where scents of saltwater carry in warm breezes, and six miles of nearly level biking and hiking trails meander through the park’s most scenic landscapes.
This two-mile adventure at Savannah’s Skidaway Island State Park combines two of the park’s most beautiful and popular trail loops, the Sandpiper Trail and Avian Trail. The hike treks sandy trails, boardwalks, and bridges, passing marsh, forest, and riverbanks – and a chance to view waterfowl and dolphin. A late afternoon hike offers a glimpse of the sun hanging low on the horizon, creating colorful skies and casting beautiful golden light on the trail.
Skidaway Island: the hike
The adventure begins at the Sandpiper Loop trailhead (view maps and driving directions), venturing northbound past the park’s interpretive center to reach an extended boardwalk. The hike treks across the boardwalk, catching views of the grassy salt flats flanking the path.
The boardwalk ends, the trail reaching a small island framed by the surrounding marshland. The hike crosses a bridge at .25 mile before reaching the second island and beginning the loop portion of the Sandpiper Trail. The hike trails westbound, passing Civil War-era earthworks constructed by Confederate troops.
The hike reaches the Avian Loop trailhead at .5 mile, turning right to begin following the Avian Loop Trail northwest. The hike treks a sandy trail, crossing through open grassland and catching wide-open views of the surrounding marsh before crossing an arched wood bridge at .6 mile. The tidal creek below meanders sharply through the salty marsh, its flow rising and falling quickly with the tide.
The boardwalk ends, and the hike reaches solid ground once again, turning left. Before reaching the Skidaway River, the Avian Loop Trail crosses another boardwalk before diving into a moss-draped forest filled with towering, twisted live oak trees.
Two side trails depart the Avian Loop Trail at .8 mile and .95 mile, both offering outstanding river views. Nearing twilight, the sun dips low on the horizon, casting warm colors in the sky as the tide rises. A careful scan of the river’s glassy water catches dolphin fins rising rhythmically upstream, and tendrils of off-white Spanish moss blow gently in the breeze overhead. The view is simply stunning.
The hike departs the river, completing the Avian Loop and retracing to the trailhead. The route crosses the tidal creek and follows the Sandpiper Trail Loop to return to the trailhead. (The park’s trails close at dark, so if you’re planning to catch twilight over the river, be sure to leave ample time to reach the trailhead.)
Skidaway Island camping, cabins & more hiking adventures
The cabins and campsites at the park are popular places to stay for a multi-day adventure at the park and nearby historic Savannah. The park’s newest lodging offering, Camper Cabins, feature a kitchen, full bath, master bedroom and sleeping loft perfect for children.
Daylight left – or staying overnight? Don’t miss our other favorite hike at the park, the Big Ferry Trail, to catch stunning views from an observation tower and visit the remains of a Prohibition-era liquor still.
Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.
Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.
Love the trail?
This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Friends of Georgia State Parks. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!
$5 (daily), or included with a Georgia State Parks annual pass.
31.949467, -81.053333 // N31 56.968 W81 03.200