Another Short Drive – St. George Island State Park
Clean clothes – check. Several days of long, hot showers – check. Tired of the waterfront view – no way! But alas we had to leave the wonderful view behind – it was time to depart Ho-Hum for our next reservation. Where were we going next? Another State Park, Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park near Eastpoint, FL only a short drive of 30 miles but across a causeway and out on the barrier island of St George. We had visited St. George Island last year, taking a pretty exhaustive bike ride but didn’t stay in the campground.
Check out time at Ho-Hum was 11:00 a.m., check in time at St. George was 3:00 p.m. Oh dear, how was that going to work? I checked at the Ho-Hum office to see if we could hang around longer but our site was rented for that night so no we couldn’t stay. I called the state park to see if we could check in early. Check out time was 1:00 p.m. – if our site was vacated we could, otherwise we were welcome to hang out at one of their day use areas until it was available. We slow rolled it as long as we could, then hit the road.
Easy drive taking the Big Bend Scenic Byway Coastal Trail (FL98). Interesting – we’re used to pronouncing it see-nik but Mrs. Rand McNally insisted on pronouncing it sen-ik. No real wonder there, it goes along with the half-witted bogus routing she comes up with 80% of the time! That said, it was hard for her to mess up on this trip as there was only one way to drive there!
Part of that drive was crossing the St. George Island Bridge which at 4 miles is the 3rd longest bridge in Florida. Completed in 2004, this bridge replaced two original bridges (cut by an island in the middle) deemed unsafe due to their old age. Stretches of the old bridge that remain are used as a fishing pier.
When we made our reservation, the only site available was a handicap accessible site so Rob called to ask if it was okay to reserve it. Since there was nothing else available, it was – they have a total of 6 accessible sites in the campground.
At the registration office, we were pleased to find out our site (#47) was already vacant so we proceeded the beautiful 4 mile drive to the campground, stopping to unhitch the toad at the Sugar Hill Day Use area. After an easy back in, we settled into our site.
Here is a 7 minute dash cam video of the approach and campground driving if you are interested.
The campground has 60 campsites ($24/day but as FL residents and seniors, our rate was $12), each with 20/30/50A electricity and water (no sewer), a picnic table and a grill.
Site lengths vary (ours had a 45′ driveway). Except for the 6 sites that are handicap accessible with cement pads and walkways, all sites are gravel. Most sites are well spaced and many have adequate foliage between to provide a decent level of privacy. But some are shorter and/or narrow so be sure to check the site dimensions on Reserve America when making a reservation.
Due to trees the satellite reception was marginal although we were able to lock onto the DISH 61.5 satellite which has most of the programming including the locals in HD. Across from our site was a bathhouse which was of an older vintage, but well maintained and very clean.
Besides the campground, St. George Island State Park has a lot to offer – fishing, beautiful beaches, nature trails, biking, geocaching and various ranger programs. Plus extensive bike/walking trails outside of the park as well as a few noteworthy restaurants such as Eddie Teach’s Raw Bar, scene of our raw oyster tasting last year.
For us, the first order of business was to stretch our legs from our very long drive (HA) and explore some of the trails within the State Park. Good thing because the next day, the rains came!
At the west end of the campground near the playground is the beginning of a nature trail which splits into two separate trails – one 3 mile trail to their primitive campsite area and the slightly shorter, East Slough Overlook Trail. Yes we needed a stretch but didn’t feel like a 6 miles walk! The Overlook Trail was quite nice, made up of a series of boardwalks over the marsh areas, with well placed signs providing information about the vegetation and birds. Plus we discovered a couple of fun geocaches along the way.
One thing we found particularly interesting was that turpentine harvesting was one of the historic practices on St. George Island. According to their website, “the park has the oldest stand of slash pine found on a barrier island and most of the old pine trees show evidence of harvesting for turpentine. Slashes were made on the trees, causing them to produce resin in an attempt to heal themselves. Containers called Herty cups were hung on the trees to collect the resin that was used to make turpentine.” There was a sign along the trail pointing out one of the “cat face trees” where we could see the remains of a Herty cup. The Herty cup was named after Charles Holmes Herty, the scientist who designed the Herty cup.
There was also a display near the bathhouse showing the several different types of Herty cups along with the history of turpentining.
Eventually the trail crossed Gulf Beach Drive near the parking lot for the East Slough Beach Use Area. After walking along the beach for a bit we retraced our steps, heading back to our campsite.
On Thursday, we wanted to walk to the primitive campsite. But unfortunately we had torrential downpours the day before and the trail was flooded. Oh well, maybe next time.
Although we didn’t see it on the trail map, we were able to walk another short trail near the playground which led us to a very small beach on the north side of the island. Not particularly good for swimming as it was covered with dead trees and stumps!
Once the sun came out again, we did manage to do some sightseeing – more about that in our next post.
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