Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
The Okefenokee, with its vast prairies and thick, almost impregnable cypress swamps, is one of the largest and most pristine wilderness areas in the eastern United States. It is in extreme south Georgia, on the border of Georgia and Florida. There are two rivers that flow out of the swamp; the St. Mary’s, which flows into the Atlantic near Cumberland Island, and the Suwannee River that flows into the Gulf of Mexico near Cedar Key, Florida. At the headwaters of these rivers, deep inside the swamp, the tea colored water reflects beautiful moss covered cypress trees that line the lakes and canoe trails.The Okefenokee swamp is more than 438,000 acres, of which 396,000 acres make up the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Inside the refuge almost 354,000 acres is designated a Wilderness Area, which means special protection for the plants and animals that grow and live in the swamp. Vegetation is dense in the swamp and includes giant tupelo and bald cypress trees festooned with Spanish moss, brush, and vines; where sandy soil is above the water, pine trees predominate. Wildlife is abundant. Over 200 species of birds and at least 40 species of mammals, which include raccoons, black bear, white-tailed deer, bobcats, fox, and otter. Alligators and 50 other species of reptiles are found, as well as over 30 species of fish. On National Wildlife Refuges wildlife are the first priority.
There are over 120 miles of canoe trails in the swamp. Depending on the trail, you will paddle through cypress forests and scrub-shrub areas, across lakes and wet prairies. Visit some islands where Indians and early settlers lived. Nights will be spent on raised covered platforms. There you can relax, explore the surrounding area, or fish for the elusive chain pickerel while a meal is being prepared for you. Witness nature in its natural environment. Canoeing in the swamp is a true wilderness experience.