your paddlesports destination

Cumberland Island in Florida

Trip Overview

I put in at low tide leaving Fort Cinch, FL. campground at 10:00 AM I was surprised to find that Cumberland Island is only mile north. Crossing from Fort Cinch to Cumberland Island is also crossing from Florida to Georgia. The state boundry runs in the middle of the waterway with the Flordia side being the St. Mary's river and the Gerogia side is the Cumberland river.

This was an exploratory trip for me, so I paddled up the east side of the island and about 2.3 miles to a river that runs into the island. Even at low tide I was able to paddle almost the total 2 miles (the final miles was mud but I could see a boat house).

This section of my paddle was the most scenic as I saw several rosette spoonbills and great egrets, along with other wading birds. This river is labeled as river with no name. Upon paddling back out of the river I proceeded north along Cumberland Island National Seashore. It is a typical sand beach sea shore so I proceed on.

As I was exporing and not seeing much more then sea shore, I noticed some spits of land sitting in the middle of the river so I paddled to one. They were actually vast piles (hundreds of millions) of sea shell that ran for about mile by a couple hundred feet and were up to four feet in height. Other then several power boats and a few Ospreys I could see nothing of interest so I decided to head back.

Some day I will learn to read the tides. Using my GPS I did a go-to my put in at Fort Cinch which was straight across open water. The water was calm but I did not realize the tide was not cooperating, plus a strong wind had decided to blow in the wrong direction. My GPS showed that I had about four miles to paddle which is a short distance in open water. Unfortunately I found that as soon as I stopped paddling to take a drink my kayak would almost immediately be going 3 mph backwards.

The next 2 hours were the hardest paddling that I have encountered. The fastest I could move forward was 2 mph which was the equilivant of paddling 5 mph. But the killer was there was no place I could stop and take a break. Actually I could have paddled over to the shore, but I guess I am too stuborn. I finally made it back to my put-in and just collapsed on a park bench for a while. As always I tell myself that I need the exercise so it was a great paddle.


Fort Cinch Florida State Park


From Jacksonville, FL take I-95 N to to A1A East to Fernandina Beach. Ft. Clinch SP is just a little north of Fernandina Beach.


Garmin Road & Recreation Software and Garmin Map76S GPS

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Water Type: Open Water/Ocean
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip