Georgia State Parks - Crooked River
This was the first day of kayaking on my six week trip to Florida. The day before I drove from Baltimore to Crooked River State Park in 13 hours, arriving at 4:30 PM. Located on the south bank of the Crooked River, Crooked River State Park comprises 500 acres and offers fine facilities in a beautiful coastal setting. There are 60 tent, trailer, and RV sites, 11 cottages, five picnic shelters and a group shelter, and even an Olympic pool and bathhouse are available to visitors. Visitors may venture to the nearby ruins of the tabby "McIntosh Sugar Works" mill, built around 1825. The mill later was used as a starch factory during the Civil War. The camp ground fee was an expensive $20.00.
The concrete boat ramp is located just outside the park. There is a $3.00 per day use fee with an envelope payment system. The ramp drops into the water between two corrugated iron walls that protect the ramp from the high current flowing past the end of the ramp. There is a floating dock that is good for fishing boats, but a bit high for kayaks. As can be seen from the picture at the left, there is about a 6 foot tidal range at the ramp.
Left camp at 6:05 AM and headed back out to Interstate 95 to check motel prices. The Days Inn there had rooms for $36.99 single, only about double what the cost of the park fee. Decided to stay there for the night. There was a lot of traffic in the area as workers at the King's Bay Naval facility went to work. I went back to the ramp and took longer than usual preparing the kayak for the day trip. By 8:30 AM I was on the water. The tide was still ebbing, so I turned down stream (east) toward the submarine naval base. There were many channels on the south side of the river. I turned into one that did not have as much current in it. This turned out to be an error as the lead turned out to be a dead end at the low tide condition of the time. So I had to back track and go down the next lead.
In the distance I could see two large barn-like structures where the submarine are serviced. The structures were constructed to hide the submarine from satellite observation. Next to the structures were 6 towers, 3 on a side, with cables stretching over the roof. This must have been for electronic cover to keep radar surveillance from penetrating the roof structure and observing the activity with the submarines beneath.
At 9:30 I turned back upstream as the ebb tidal current slacked. The wind was blowing from the southwest at 10-15 knots. I continued upstream, investigating one of the many loops on the river, until 2:00 PM where i reached the farthest point of the day. I rejoined the main river at 3:00 PM, and eventually picked up the ebb current that brought me back to the ramp at 4:45 PM. This was a pleasant, long day trip of almost 30 miles and 9 hours. I put the kayak back on the van and headed for the Days Inn for a great hot shower and a nice diner at the Pablo's Mexican restaurant where I received a 20% discount for staying at the Days Inn just behind it.
The marshes were drying out as the tide came down. Large clusters of oysters were showing among the marsh grasses and sand bars. These oysters could put some serious scratches on the bottom of a boat if you came upon them at high tide. Sandpipers ran up and down the sand bars, pelicans were diving for fish and ibis flew overhead.
The next day I would meet Mary, Steve and Julio at the St. Mary's River and begin our trip down the River of No Return.
Other nearby trips...
St. Mary's River
NOAA Chart (not for navigation)