Crooked River State Park: Under-Appreciated Glorious Fun

I love Georgia State Parks!  There is not a single park that I’ve been to that I did not like.  They all have something special, and we’ve always been happy with our accommodations wherever we go.

I wanted to tell you that first, because I’m about to gush, and then gush some more about our cabin and experience at Crooked River State Park on the Georgia coast.  It was so good, y’all.  So good!

The reason we chose Crooked River State Park to visit is because we planned a day trip to Cumberland Island planned and the ferry docks in the town of St. Mary’s, where the park is located.

Since I’d never been to Crooked River, I decided this was a good time to go. I didn’t give the park itself too much thought, since my true purpose was Cumberland.

But as soon as I stepped foot inside their visitor center, I realized what a mistake it was to not give Crooked River credit on its own.

The visitor center itself is just a very nice place — with a little shop, coffee, and ice cream available for purchase.  The people who work there took this place to the next level, though.

They were completely prepared for our arrival — they had our reservations, along with a packet containing maps and information about the park ready when we got there.  They took time to answer questions, and talk to our kids!

It was just — the very best of beginnings.

Crooked River has 62 campsites, but this time we rented one of their 11 cabins, and when we got there — we were floored.

The cabin itself was beautiful.  It was newly remodeled — and there was so much space!  We had a two-bedroom, and it had the best little screened porch.

But what really made me excited, was to see that our cabin had views of the river!

It was awesome.  The kids made s’mores that night with the beautiful Crooked River behind them.  There’s nothing I love more than a beautiful view, and this place definitely had them.

We tried two different trails while we were there — the River Trail and the Bay Boardwalk Trail.

The River Trail was a short trail near our cabin that traveled along the river.  There were parts of the trail where you could walk down to get a closer look at the river (which was my kids’ favorite part),  and the trail was fun and easy for the little ones.

The Bay Boardwalk Trail began just behind their nature center, and part of the trail was a boardwalk.  Our favorite thing about this trail was that they had a pamphlet at the beginning of the trail that identified plants and trees, and as you walked along the boardwalk, there were numbers on the boardwalk that corresponded to your pamphlet to help you properly identify everything.  So neat!

There was an observation tower about halfway through this 1.5-mile trail, so the kids could climb up and look out over all the palmettos.  We had a really awesome time.

We also visited their nature center while we were there.  We saw some turtles, and my kids absolutely loved seeing all the different animal skulls they had on display.

We also made use of their playgrounds — which were awesome.  I mean, they were typical (but very well-maintained!) playgrounds, but they were situated under beautiful trees, and then the view just behind the playgrounds were to die for!  We visited the playgrounds when we first arrived, and then we went back again at sunset just so I could take pictures from there.  So pretty!

🙌🏻 #loveandspringbreak #exploregeorgia #gastateparks #optoutside

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And although this wasn’t actually in the park, just down the road are the ruins of an old tabby mill that was built around 1825.  It was originally a sugar mill, that was later used as a starch factory during the Civil War.

My kids loved exploring this place!  It was in a really beautiful setting, with a picnic area under shady trees. You could spend as little or as much time there, so it could definitely be a fun, quick stop.

sugar mill

I think this is a state park where bikes would be great to have with you.  We didn’t have ours this time, and they’re not necessary or anything, but there are plenty of flat roads in this park that families could use.

And if you do want to go to Cumberland, it’s only 15 minutes from this park.  Make sure to make your reservations in advance!  (We had a blast there, too!)

My overall feeling about this state park was just that this place is very, very well done.  It’s like…the “fancy hotel” version of Georgia State Parks.

I absolutely expected to like it, but never considered LOVING it.  And I do. I cannot wait to go back.

crooked river water

There was so much to see and do there, and around there, and we all had the very best time.

See you again soon, Crooked River!

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Crooked River State Park deserves to be visited on it's own merits, but it's also great for those visiting nearby Cumberland Island and St. Mary's, where the park is located. Here's why.

Kate Gelsthorpe is a former TV news writer, and a born and raised Georgia girl who grew up camping with her family at state parks around central and south Georgia. After 18 years in Atlanta, her family recently moved to Athens, and in their spare time you can find them exploring their new hometown. She and her husband, Kevin, are the proud parents of an 8-year-old dinosaur expert, and a 6-year-old outdoor-loving fashionista. You can follow her family’s quest to go on 100 hikes in 2018 on Instagram @loveandkate.

 

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