Fall Visit to the Okefenokee Swamp

This past fall my family and I finally made it to the Okefenokee Swamp.  It has been on our list of things to do since moving to Georgia in 2006.  The swamp has a rich and fascinating history which I read prior to our visit; The Okefinokee Album based on the writing and photography of Francis Harper and prepared by Delma Presley.  They actually sell this book at the Stephen C. Foster State Park visitor center.  The history of fire, logging, railroads and the people who called the area home was just amazing.  Rainwater feeds the swamp and two rivers drain the basin.  Our trip took in the west side of the swamp with a stay at the state park followed by a drive to the east entrance to visit the National Wildlife Refuge.  They actually have platforms throughout the swamp so a person can kayak from one entrance to the other while staying on the platforms at night.  That was a little more than we wanted to do for our trip so we rented a cabin at the state park to start our stay.  

As soon as we exited the car we could see the resident alligator hanging out in the marina.  Boat rentals are on a first come, first served basis but we opted to take the Ranger led tour instead.  It was nice to have the history told to us as he pointed out hidden features.  We passed a mother alligator with several young climbing about right along the bank.  We got up close to a rather large male that was hidden behind a tree.  The area is home to white ibis, wood storks and sandhill cranes but we saw mostly white ibis up in the tree tops. The Ranger gave us information on the 'Land of the Trembling Earth' with it's floating peat mats that look more substantial than they are.  The waterway is well marked with signs to Billy's Island, Minnie's Lake and Big Water Lake guiding you to explore over ten miles of waterway.  Our goal is to visit again, rent a boat and visit Billy's Island.  There are some relics from the logging days still there to be seen.

Back at the dock we took the nature trail loop and the boardwalk hike.  Easy, level walking with great photo opportunities.  Along the way we passed some deer grazing below the walkway.  Deer were also present outside our cabin in the evening.  It was very relaxing to watch them pass through.  Besides the cabins the park also has a campground which was pretty full during our October stay.