Golden Isles, GA

Cumberland Island

Author Photo

Cumberland Island, a National Seashore run by the National Park Service, is the southernmost of Georgia’s barrier islands and only reachable by ferry. It’s a beautiful spot, boasting 17 miles of beach and 50 miles of trails through pristine maritime forests, and wide marshes. There are also the remains of the former Carnegie estate. It’s worth a day trip for the many biking, hiking, and running opportunities. There are no paved roads on the island. Note:  Roads and trails can be a softer/sandy surface. Our top recommendations for running on Cumberland Island:

Flickr: Mary Fairchild

Beach. From the ferry terminal, it’s 1 mile to the beach, where you can run for miles. There are many other access points to the beach across the island. It’s largely undeveloped. Sand can be firm and compact near the water, but tidally dependent and situational.

South End Loop.  The most popular walk/hike on the island can also be done as a run! 4.3 miles, including 1.5 miles along the beach. Nice variety, including forest, beach, marsh.  MAP & DESCRIPTION

Author Photo

Main Road.  Good straight shot run through the heart of the island “under a draping canopy of live oaks, across forest floors packed with palmetto, through tall stands of stately pines, over open fields, near tidal creeks, fresh water wetlands and lakes”.  Road is easily accessed from either of the two ferry docks. Run for as many miles as you like through this shady canopy. Generally firm service with good footing — can get soft/sandy during dry spells. For more of a trail run, the Parallel Trail runs parallel to the Main Road for several miles. It’s runnable, but narrower and more overgrown in spots.

There are numerous other trail options heading further north on the island, and the experience can get more remote. This page has excellent descriptions of the numerous trails, with distance options.

Essentials
  • Most routes start from Sea Camp ferry dock
  • Ferry access. See schedule & info