Cumberland Island reopens on limited basis

Visitor center, limited ferry service ready for visitors

File photo

ST. MARYS, Ga. – The Cumberland Island National Seashore will restore ferry service to the Sea Camp dock and open the Sea Camp and Stafford campground beginning Friday.

Park operations had been closed since the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. 

Wilderness campgrounds and trails north of Stafford Beach will remain closed. Dungeness Dock remains closed for an undetermined timeframe and neither dock is available to private boaters. These docks sustained substantial damage and along with the closure areas require on-going recovery efforts.

The mainland visitor center reopened earlier this month and public programs will be offered daily.

“Program topics will vary by the expertise of the ranger and include topics on ecological adaptations, geology, fish, crafts made from nature, and interesting tales of island life,” Superintendent Gary Ingram said, “as we make every effort to open the island to the public.”

Debris removal from the roads and cultural landscapes has been ongoing. 

Recovery repair work and contracting have begun with the completion of assessments for the park buildings, water and sewer systems, electricity, cultural and natural resources, and the docks. 

“Cumberland Island staff as well as other National Park Service resources from as far away as Great Smokies National Park have been working really hard since the storm to get the island ready to welcome visitors back,” Ingram said.

Ferry service will resume as normal with a 9 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. departure from the St. Marys Visitor Center and a 4:45 p.m. return from the Sea Camp dock to the mainland. The Lands and Legacies tours will also resume on a normal schedule and route.

Reservations for the ferry and this tour can be made by calling 1-877-860-6787 or visiting cumberlandislandferry.com for online booking.

“A lot of hard work went into getting this small section of the Sea Camp dock ready to safely restore ferry service to the south end,” Ingram said. “We are thrilled to be able to welcome visitors back to the island.”

Campers and day-use visitors alike can expect a spectacular trip to the beach and a dockside program at the Sea Camp Ranger Station at 4 p.m. The Dungeness Historic District is open and is accessible by walking or bicycling the 1.25 miles one-way to the ruins and or Ice House museum.

Plum Orchard mansion will be open for historic home tours tomorrow starting at 10 a.m. These tours are free of charge and will resume a regular schedule on Saturday Oct. 29. Tours are six-times per day at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.. Plum Orchard is located seven miles (one way) north of the Sea Camp ranger station and is accessible by hiking, bicycling, or being a guest on the Lands and Legacies Tour.

The Cumberland Island National Seashore museum in downtown St. Marys sustained water damage and is undergoing remediation work. It is undetermined at this time when the museum will re-open to the public.

National Park Service staff would like to thank the community for its patience as we have worked through the recovery process to this point and as we continue to progress with recovery efforts in the immediate future.

“The island, like this community, is resilient, and we will move forward in a positive way together,” said Ingram.