Brunswick's Earth Day Nature Trail
April 2021 Issue
By Kelly Hunter
Photography by Nancy J. Reynolds Photography
Every year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary
of the birth of the modern environmental movement.
What started in the United States in 1970 became
a global phenomenon in 1990.
Earth Day is now recognized as the largest secular
observance in the world, with more than one billion people
annually marking the occasion.
In the Golden Isles, locals and visitors alike can celebrate Earth Day every day of the year in Brunswick at the Earth Day Nature Trail! On April 22, 1993, a dedication ceremony to officially open the Earth Day Nature Trail was held by Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (CRD). The Trail is self-guided and winds across salt marshes, tidal ponds and a coastal hammock high ground with stunning views of both the ocean and surrounding marshes. Originally created to extend the classroom outdoors for Glynn County students, the trail has become a favorite destination for individuals and families, too. All are invited to visit any time during daylight hours, 365 days a year with no admission fee.
Recently, we here at Paisley Magazine took time to enjoy some gorgeous Coastal Georgia spring weather at the trail with Tyler Jones, the CRD Public Information Officer. He taught us that the 1970 Coastal Marshland Protection Act laid out 14 jurisdictional plants that help indicate where marshes legally begin in Georgia, and many of these species can be seen on the trail. There are interpretive panels on the trail to help visitors identify them.
We especially enjoyed the observation tower at the Trail’s eastern edge. “It provides a panoramic view of the St. Simons Sound and surrounding marshes, complete with free telescopic binoculars for up-close views,” Tyler said. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to get a different view of the salvage work being done on the wreck of the Golden Ray. Even when that work is finished, and the Golden Ray is only a tale we tell, the observation tower will continue to offer terrific views of the St. Simons Lighthouse and other sensational sights of the Sound.
If you go this month (and you really should!), be sure to look for ospreys, yellow warblers and white ibises. The bird wild life is abundant along the Trail, and if you’re lucky—and observant—you might even spy a graceful wood stork or colorful painted bunting.
It’s easy to make a day at the Trail, or to just swing by for a giant breath of fresh air. There are picnic tables for those who want to enjoy an outdoor lunch break and benches if you want to relax, read, or simply take in the views. There is a Little Free Library in the picnic area and a geocaching box at the base of the observation tower. As we all know, spending time in nature is healing, especially for our mental well-being. There’s nothing like a peaceful walk in the wild to center yourself, find balance and take a moment to get away from it all.
For those who don’t mind the prospect of getting their shoes muddy, the Sand Flat Trail can be a great place to spot Fiddler Crabs and Periwinkle Snails. This portion of the trail is best taken at low tide! The trail map (pictured left) may also be found at www.coastalgadnr.org/NatureTrailCRD, or picked up in person at the close-by DNR offices, open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays.
For some, Earth Day is a time of action, not just education. When asked what actions visitors might take to help with upkeep, Tyler said, “We ask that visitors practice ‘Leave No Trace’ ethics while visiting the Nature Trail. This means no littering, staying on the designated trail areas and picking up any trash you may see, even if it’s not yours. Trash and recycling receptacles are provided at various locations along the trail. We also provide volunteer opportunities for civic groups, faith-based organizations, scouting groups and others who wish to provide public service by helping CRD maintain and improve the nature trail.”
No matter what your plans are this year for Earth Day, make time to visit the Earth Day Nature Trail soon. Bring the kids or grandkids for a little fun and learning in the marsh hammocks, bring your lunch and eat surrounded by woodland. Grab a book from the Little Free Library (or bring your own) to settle on one of the benches and get away from it all within a few miles of home. If your visit inspires you to pick up some litter, use less plastic, or eat local seafood, that will just be an added bonus!
Trail access is in the northeast corner of the parking lot at One Conservation Way, Brunswick, Ga.,31520, just across the river from Sidney Lanier Park, at the foot of Sidney Lanier Bridge.
Tips for the trail:
• Insect repellent is a must for most of the year
• Sunscreen is recommended, although there are many
shaded areas on the trail
• The trail is not equipped with restrooms, so plan accordingly
• Pets are not allowed on the trail.
The Earth Day Nature Trail was built by CRD staff, led by project manager John Pafford. The trail was also made possible with help from other DNR divisions: Conservation Section and Wildlife Resources, Boy Scout Troop 248 of St. Simons Island United Methodist Church, local civic groups and area businesses.
For more information and updates log onto www.CoastalGaDNR.org or follow on Facebook: Coastal Resources Division—Georgia DNR