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Built on a stretch of the Savannah & Atlantic Railroad line, the 6-mile McQueen's Island Trail offers a salt-air excursion for nature lovers and history buffs alike. Built in 1887, the railroad carried passengers from Savannah to Tybee Island, a popular turn-of-the-century beach resort. A highway to the island was built in 1923, leading to the demise of the railroad.
From its trailhead on the eastern outskirts of Savannah, the trail parallels the South Channel of the Savannah River, a major shipping route and entry point to the Port of Savannah. Short bridges spirit you across saltwater marshes. Cord grass, cabbage palms, yaupon holly and coastal cedars line this beautiful trail, and interpretive signs list the native wildlife, including the eastern box turtle, American alligator, diamond back terrapin, bobcat, osprey, red-tailed hawk and brown pelican. Be on the lookout for these, as well as frolicking dolphins in the river. Conveniently placed benches allow visitors to pause, take in the scenery and enjoy a picnic.
This region boasts an interesting and extensive history, from its earliest inhabitants (Gaulle Indians, followed by early colonists) to the Revolutionary and Civil war battles fought on its soil. Cap your trek with a visit to the massive brick Fort Pulaski, captured in 1862 by Union troops using an experimental rifled cannon. If time permits, head over to Tybee Island, a few miles east of the trail. Tybee's 1732 lighthouse is Georgia's oldest and tallest.
To reach the eastern trailhead, follow US 80 east toward Tybee Island. The trailhead entrance is about 15 miles east of Savannah; look for the sign for Fort Pulaski National Monument. Parking is available along the road or at the fort.
To reach the western trailhead, follow the directions above, but continue a few miles along US 80 to a small roadside parking area just before the turnoff for Fort Pulaski.
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