The McQueen’s Island Trail spans a total of six miles which is ideal for nature lovers and wannabe historians. The trail dates back to 1887. This was the height of the railroad era and passengers traveled between Savannah and the popular beach resort Tybee Island. In 1923, a highway to the island was built, leading to the decommissioning of the railroad and the start of this amazing trail.
The trailhead is located approximately 15 miles to the east of town and it runs parallel to the Savannah River South Channel, which is the entry point for the Port of Savannah. There are short bridges that take you across Southwater marshes and the trail is packed with beautiful flora, including cabbage palms, yaupon holly, coastal cedars, and cordgrass.
You may even see some native wildlife as you follow the trail, including the American alligator, bobcat, red-tailed hawk, brown pelican, osprey, diamondback terrapin, and eastern box turtle. Be sure to keep an eye out for the interpretive signs listing the native wildlife. If you want to take a break, there are conveniently placed benches where you can enjoy a picnic and soak in the scenery.
For history buffs, this McQueen’s Island trail can be a great adventure. The region has an extensive, interesting history. It dates back to the Gaulle Indians, but both Revolutionary and Civil war battles were fought in the area. If you want to make the most of your trek, visit Fort Pulaski. This massive brick fort was captured by Union troops in 1862, when they used an experimental rifled cannon. Time permitting, you could also head a few miles east of the trail to Tybee Island. There you’ll see Tybee’s lighthouse. This was built in 1732, and it remains Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse.
Since the trail is built on the Savannah & Atlantic Railroad line, it is easy for even newbie hikers and cyclists to follow. It is a fairly straight trail that is suitable for all age groups.
The trail can be accessed from US 80 East heading toward Tybee Island. Keep an eye out for the sign for Fort Pulaski National Monument. There are parking areas at the fort or along the road. From the western trailhead, there is a small roadside parking area immediately before the Fort Pulaski turnoff.
Although the trail is only six miles long, there are some great picnic areas along the way, so don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch!