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Amelia River & Fort Clinch - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Trip Dates: Aug. 2002
Nearest City: Fernandina, FL
Difficulty: Moderate
Submitted by: coif View Profile

Description:

I decided to do the trip from Fort Clinch described in Sea Kayaking in Florida. This trip starts at Fort Clinch State Park and is basically a circumnavigation of Little Tiger Island, first on the Amelia River, then Tiger Creek and then into Cumberland Sound.

The trip there was easy, just up I95 to exit 129 and then just follow the signs to Ft. Clinch. The put in is at the end of the campgrounds. There's a little parking lot there just off the beach. There were a couple of other kayakers launching when I got there, but they headed north to Cumberland Island. I loaded up and launched with no problems heading south on the Amelia River.

Just to the south of the launch point is Smurfit-Stone, a large paper mill. I had wanted to go up Egan's Creek, but didn't look at the map and thought it was south of the mill. However, after I paddled past and could see the town ahead I checked things out and realized I had missed it. Egan's Creek is the old site of the town. I kept going south getting pretty close to the marina. There's a nice restaurant on the water there I've eaten at a few times and I imagine you could tie up and grab lunch. It was too early for me so I pushed on and crossed the river. This was a lot more like out on the Gulf than a river. Pretty wide with a good tidal current.

It was easy to see the southern tip of Little Tiger Island and the opening to Tiger Creek beyond. It was dead high tide, so there were no banks, just water right up into the salt marsh grass. I wound around the creek staying pretty close to Little Tiger Island. The creek turned in and out, narrowed and widened, but was an easy paddle. I didn't sense too much current at this point. However, I had hoped to see some more wildlife. All I caught were a few pelicans. As I approached the northern tip of the island the channel had narrowed, but you could see that just ahead it opened up into Cumberland Sound. There was a nice, small beach on the north side of the channel on Tiger Island and I stopped and had lunch. You could see that there was a significant current going through the channel out into the sound.

As I launched I was surprised at how quick the trip was going. I had only been on the water about 1 1/2 hours and I could already see Ft. Clinch park and the takeout. I started out again. The whole north side of Little Tiger Island is a beach, so I suppose I could have stopped there for lunch. There were some gentle swells on the sound, but nothing too rough. I decided rather than head straight back, I'd go past the point and go over to the fort. There were a lot more boats in the area and trickier currents, but wasn't too bad. There were three small breakwaters to get around, but I could come right up to the beach under the fort. I landed and took a few pictures of the fort and then started on the return to the take out. It only took another 20 minutes or so and I was back.

After I packed up I decided to tour the fort. I hadn't done this for many years, so it was good to see it again. It is a Civil War fort with a battery of good-sized guns. There are a number of buildings to check out and even some Civil War interpreters to answer questions.

Accommodations:

The park has hiking trails, the fort tour and a good sized campground.

Fees:

Park entrance was $3.25 and the fort was another $2.00.

Directions:

Take exit 129 off of I95 and head east for a little over 14 miles until you hit Atlantic Ave and turn right. Go about 1 1/2 miles further on Atlantic to the park entrance on the left.

Resources:

The trail is outlined in Sea Kayaking Florida & the Georgia Sea Islands by James Bannon.
Good information on the Ft. Clinch website at: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/parks/district2/fortclinch/index.asp


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