FORT GEORGE ISLAND CULTURAL STATE PARK
Native Americans feasted here, colonists built a fort, and the Smart Set of the 1920s came for vacations. A site of human occupation for over 5,000 years, Fort George Island was named for a 1736 fort built to defend the southern flank of Georgia when it was a colony. Today?s visitors come for boating, fishing, off-road bicycling, and hiking. A key attraction is the recently restored Ribault Club. Once an exclusive resort, it is now a visitor center with meeting space available for special functions. Behind the club, small boats, canoes, and kayaks can be launched on the tidal waters.
To reserve the Ribault Club for a special event, contact Amelia Occasions at 904-251-1050. Located approximately 16 miles east of downtown Jacksonville on State Road A1A, or three miles south of Little Talbot Island State Park.
For an eco-friendly experience you won't soon forget, sign up for a guided tour of Fort George Island on a cross terrain Segway with Ecomotion Tours. This 2 hour tour departs from the historic Ribault Club and visits the Kingsley Plantation while traveling along more than 3 miles of maritime forest, abundant with plant and animal life. No experience necessary, but advance reservations are required so please call 904-251-9477 for more information.
HISTORY OF THE AREA
Fort George contains the longest record of civilization in Duval County. The huge shell mounds found on the island are evidence of Indian habitation dating back over 7,000 years. A major food source for the native people were the oysters and fish found in the surrounding waters. After eating the edible portion, the oyster shells were discarded, accumulating over the years to form enormous shell middens seen today.
Originally called Fort Saint Georges, the fort was built in 1736 by General James Olgethorpe, founder of Georgia Colony. The fort no longer stands and its location has not yet be determined. Rising 65 feet above sea level, Mount Cornelia is reputed to be the highest point on the U.S. Atlantic coast south of North Carolina?s outer Banks. To learn more about Fort George island and its former inhabitants take the 4.4-mile self-guided Saturiwa Trail tour. Guided tour books are available at the Talbot Islands Ranger Station.
The Ribault Clubhouse Water access, (unimproved boat ramp) behind the Ribault Clubhouse, is available for launching canoes, kayaks, and small flat bottom boats.
Fort George Island Cultural State Park offers a loop bicycle ride through history. Pick up a copy of the Saturiwa Trail guide at the Little Talbot Island Ranger Station or in the brochure rack in front of the Ribault Club on Fort George Island. The loop is 4.4 miles and consists of paved road and hard packed gravel.
For off-road bicyclists there is a three-mile biking-hiking trail that traverses the interior of the former Fort George Island golf course. The trail is suitable for large tired bikes.
Guided Segway Trips. Looking for a unique and exhilarating experience? Explore the beauty of these barrier islands as never before?on SegwaysR. EcoMotion Tours is one of Talbot Islands State Parks? visitors service providers operating on Little Talbot Island and nearby Fort George Island. EcoMotion Tours uses Segway transporters to provide an enjoyable and modern way of touring. Segways are two-wheeled, battery-powered devices that respond to the way you lean. These eco-friendly transporters are quiet and easy on the trails, providing a wonderful way to explore nature without disturbing its inhabitants. You?ll be equipped with a wireless headset so our guides can point out the fascinating plant and animal life along the trails.
Ecomotion Tours provides helmets, orientation and training to ensure everyone has a relaxed and safe experience. No experience is necessary, but there is a minimum age requirement (13 years old) and a weight requirement (between 100-250lbs). Riders under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. All guided trips include instruction, interpretation, bottled water, and a snack. RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED.
The tour on Little Talbot Island is a 5-mile trip through a mature maritime forest that leads to the beach. You?ll enjoy watching the true beauty of a coastal hammock unfold as your cross-terrain Segway transports you along this amazing island trail. This trip departs from the north parking lot of Little Talbot Island and will last about 2.5 hours.
There are two tour options available for Fort George Island. The morning tour is nearly four miles long and travels through the island?s maritime forest and visits Kingsley Plantation. The afternoon tour is approximately an hour long and omits the Kingsley segment. Fort George tours depart from the Ribault Club. On these tours you?ll hear the storied history of the island and see up close the unique flora indigenous to this habitat.
Visit Ecomotion Tours for schedules and call 904-251-9477 to make reservations.
There is a three-mile hiking/biking trail on Fort George Island. The trail runs through the interior of the former Fort George golf course. A successional process is returning the golf course land back to its natural state and restoring the maritime forest habitat. The trail is suitable for large tired bikes.
Well-behaved dogs are welcome at Fort George Island Cultural State Park on our hiking trails, pavilions, paved park roads, parking lots, multi-use trails and our shorelines. They must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times and can not be left unattended for more than a half-hour.
Fort George Island Cultural State Park lies approximately 16 miles east of downtown Jacksonville on S.R. A1A, or three miles south of Little Talbot Island State Park.