I have sought to teach my children to not fear the swamp and its mysteries, but instead to learn how to enjoy it. As a part of that I have been sure to teach my sons about how to go camping in it. In the early part of 2013, I was able to introduce my youngest son, now in college, to the beauty of the great swamp. As someone who had been raised overseas and not around the swamp, he wanted to learn about it but was also nervous about entering its wilderness areas.
Camping and Canoeing in the Okefenokee Swamp
I Recently Introduced My College Age Son to the Adventure of Camping Within the Great Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Want to learn more interesting stuff about the Okefenokee? This book is also available in print form.
|Okefenokee Tales: The Okefenokee is one of the world's great wonders and is filled with mystery.|
This eBook is mostly composed of previously published articles I wrote for Yahoo Contributor's Network or Bubblews.com. The Yahoo site is no longer functioning. I have withdrawn...
The Coffee Bay Run
A short 6 mile canoe trip with plenty of cool scenery
Being raised on the edges of the great Okefenokee Swamp has its advantages. For me, one of these was having a father who knew the swamp and taught his son to respect it and enjoy it. He had lived as a child along the edges of the swamp for several years while his father worked as a watchtower man for the Georgia Forestry department during the years of the Great Depression and immediately after. As a result of his efforts, I learned to hunt along its edges and to both fish and camp within its environs. On at least two occasions I have canoed all the way through the Okefenokee camping overnight for 2-3 nights each trip.
In the early part of 2013, I was able to introduce my youngest son to the adventure and fun of camping in the great swamp. Our trip included my son and my wife and originated from the federally run park entrance at the Suwannee Canal entrance near Folkston, Georgia. By planning ahead and securing a camping permit from the headquarters office of the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge, we were able to paddle in about 6 miles and camp overnight at the Coffee Bay shelter along the canal. My wife and I shared a canoe while our college soccer playing youngster managed a one man canoe quite well.
The run to Coffee Bay is a pleasant trip and during the winter months is fairly insect free. It is a good family outing for those who are physically capable of paddling a canoe for medium distances. The camping will be on a hard surface and that can make for some uncomfortable sleeping for some people, however, the novelty of it and the opportunities to see many types of birds and other wildlife make it worthwhile.
The total cost of the permit and renting of canoes is usually less than $60 for an overnight trip for one canoe with 2 people in it. Kayaks and one man canoes are also available. The Park Service has done a good job of posting highly visible trail markers as well, for those of us who might be afraid of making a wrong turn in such a vast watery and overgrown region. For most of us, one trail would look like any other. The reassuring trail markers can certainly make a big difference in a novice swamp camper's stress levels!
At each campsite there is usually a "traveler's log" where previous campers left notes of what they saw and/or experienced at the campsite. While we saw Sandhill cranes at a distance, turtles, alligators, and woodpeckers and an assortment of other birds... previous campers had seen a black bear and a bobcat! Unfortunately, we missed that excitement. Though, we were entertained throughout the night by bull gators who roared their challenges continuously in the distance. And by the hooting of owls.
Those who would like to try such a trip should begin the process 3-4 weeks in advance by calling the refuge office to make a reservation for a camping spot along one of the many trails marked out through the swamp. Information can be found at their internet website. Be warned though! Bring your camera and a sense of adventure, as you will surely need both!