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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.
We enjoyed our ride from Ft. Pulaski on a warm February day, but noticed the storm damage others have mentioned. A bridge with planks making it passable by walking; a couple of trees across the trail you have to carry bikes over; and the totally gone bridge at 2.2 miles as mentioned. We assumed the damage was from last fall (2017) but see from other reviews the problems go back much longer. We certainly aren’t calling out anybody who lives locally and supports this trail, but I don’t see why they couldn’t do some fund raising - start by putting a sign at the damage giving a website where one can donate.
Storm damage has left natural debris and caused damage to several bridges but it was still an enjoyable ride on flat hard-packed sandy, gravel, dirt path with Good views of marsh and Savannah River. Unfortunately first wood bridge was very damaged with wide gap and a few small planks to use. Safety hazard for those who don’t see it coming. Then, 2.2 miles brought us to a completely destroyed bridgeway. Only 2 metal pipes cross the canal, not a single wood plank remains, leaving a 20+ foot gap and forcing us to turnaround...no way to go forward. We had started at Fort Pulaski monument. Benches and workout points along the trail are also in disrepair. Hopefully improvements will come soon.
This is a great easy trail to walk and ride on! Along the trail are benches, picnic tables and work out obstacles... But.... 1.Coming from Fort Pulaski entrance at about 2.4 miles is a huge wash out.. (round trip is 4.82 miles) 2. From the Hwy 80 vehicle parking spot midway on the trail, going left (north) on the trail at about 2.5 miles is a huge wash out.. (round trip is 6.33 miles, utilizing the whole trail in both directions)
We started from the south end just last week (11/6/2017).
It doesn't seem the trail has been maintained in quite some time. In the first 2 miles there were large logs across the trail in 4 places. At the 2.2 mile mark it was completely washed out. Not crossable for us.
Looks like it could be nice if taken care of.
From the parking area I headed left about 2.5 miles to the end then rode all the way down to Fork Pulaski and back. Nice ride but there is still a large washout which I recommend you dismount and cross. (This recommendation comes from my experience of trying to ride across and face planting at the bottom). Your choice.
Needs repair- a couple of bridges are out- one passable but other not passable if high tide. Still not bad small gravel path- lined by palm trees that provide shade. Part of path wiped out by storm and some parts too sandy to ride through. No facilities.
Crushed gravel surface is packed down nicely in most places. It's deep where freshly applied. Ample shoulder parking on 80 allows you to get out of traffic, park, and hop onto trail quickly at the Midway point. Bike 3 miles East or 3 miles west and connect to all the trails at Fort Pulaski, $7 entrance fee required.
Ocean breezes and Palms create a little shade. Trail includes several small bridges over estuaries, shade stops, benches and trash cans. Nearest refreshment is 1 mile East at Coco's Sunset Grill. Hopefully trail connectivity coming soon until then ride the shoulder of 80 to get there.
I've run on this trail a couple of times since early 2015. There has been construction at 2.25 miles from the Fort Pulaski parking area since then. You can navigate around and keep on running, and navigate around the other blocked construction area (at your own risk, not too reckless) - however, it will be nice when this construction is completed so you can get a full 6+ miles one way run.
Scenic, gravel/shell trail material makes for a nice run/walk. Everyone I've seen on the trail is courteous and friendly, which makes this a good trail.
We ran the east end of the trail because the west end was covered in water at the west parking area, but there was 3 miles of good trail on the east end, pretty scenery and good soft gravel perfect for bikes or jogging.
Good trail I go here often.
The path was pretty easy to ride (neither of us have off road bikes). Some loose gravel in the area where they did repairs to the path, but it's just a small stretch and our bikes handled it well.
The trail, mostly dirt road, follows along side HWY 80 for the first few miles before breaking away and into marsh land. The path was quiet and peaceful and the view of the river and marshes is spectacular. We will definitely be heading out again soon!
We live on Tybee Island so we were excited to have such a great trail in our own backyard. We started our ride at Ft. Pulaski and parked just outside the park gate off HWY 80.
I noted that a lot of people said that part of the trail was closed due to the path being flooded a couple years ago. Construction started last year and the trail seems to be complete and the entire trail is open.
Great trail to hike. Ft Poulaski is awesome but
what could be one of the most beautiful bike trails in the area falls WAY short. Wash outs filled with gravel make it difficult to ride through and general disrepair make it a 2 on a scale of 5 for bikers.
Don't listen to any one complaining about bugs or heat... it's Georgia! That's what the south is, expect to be hot in summer. That's why we go there.
This is a trail with some of the best scenery you'll ever see. The trail itself is beautifully conceptualized and clearly was well supported at one time. However, it seems that there may be a lack of funds to maintain the trail, its signs and support structures, etc. The trail itself is heavily eroded in a few spots and you general need to walk your bike in those few spots, but much the rest of the trail is serviceable. There is also a section closed off by a gate towards the Savannah end. This section is heavily eroded.
I have been riding this trail for a few years and remember a time when it was in much better shape. In past years, there was a written plea attached to the gate alerting users to a lack of funding and asking for support. I would be happy to support such a beautiful resource, but I am not quite sure how to proceed. If you've not ridden this trail, please do. It is a beautiful ride and I hope it gets the support it needs.
The McQueens Island trail is suffering from a combination of apparent overuse, undermaintenance and powerful barrier-island weather eroding portions of the trail . Signs are up appealing to bikers for support to "Save the Trail" so there's a problem. From the Rte 80 parking area you can head west a little over two miles before the trail is closed due to erosion. The eastern portion of the trail, which runs about four miles to Fort Pulaski, was in better shape. Too bad the area biking community doesn't have any clout with the local politicians to improve the trail and extend it, at least two Tybee Island. Problem though is that the Tybee bridge is narrow, and there is no more bridge (other than Route 80) heading the other way back into Savannah. A bike trail from downtown Savannah to Tybee would be a powerful enhancement -- but it looks impossible. There's another problem -- the trail base is as much sand as gravel, and your bike pays a price for all that sand. This trail has great potential, but I suspect it cannot and will not be more than what it is today.
I viewed the walk going to the fort, but did not walk it. I am a rail fan and was looking at it from that view. Someone complained it was washed out! That is what the railroad worked at for 40 years and with all there money they had trouble keeping it up. Some one asked why it did not go into Sananana. There were 6 bridges some were drawbridges, kind of expencive for a bike path. If the dog guy reads dog reviews it says the path east - in to the city is dog ok if you clean up after them. They even give a note to call. Tho the sign does say no dogs except seeing eye dogs. And there were many dogs at the fort, and the rangers had no broblems with them. I would like to see a copy of the trail map - the one on the trail on your web site for this and all your trails, Or did I miss it. In your talk of the trail you might note that they planted one plam for each person killed in WW1 along the track. Also I have been told by the local that you can see by the numbers of police seen in Sanvana that it is not a big reach to think of car break-in out wayout there on 80. I saw the tybee police at a cafe - all at one table (8) the last 2 came in from beach patrol after they were relived total 10. None to guard cars on the 80. The turtles, as large a diner table, get no protection on hiwy 80, so forget you, your car, or you bike protection.
we enjoyed the ride and it was winter - trail was clean - but just seemed a little beat up - toppled picnic table - signs missing or faded - part of the west end of the trail closed due to potholes or ? - but a good ride none the less - saw pelicans and a big ship out in the water coming up the river - water level was low so not much wildlife - a safe ride - parked by ft. pulaski - other folks were friendly - good experience - just the trail could use a little work (yes, i know money's tight, the economy, etc.)
I love this trail and it's a pretty easy trip with it being all flat. There's so much to see with the fiddler crabs crossing the path, dolphin in the Savannah River, and all of the water birds. But the best part for me is all the way at the far end away from Pulaski. There's a turnabout where the trail ends and it is decorated in the wildest way. Under a super massive oak tree surrounded by picnic tables, people have picked up things that washed up from the river and hung it from the trees like plastic bottles, glass bottles, hard hats, bouys... along with animal bones, drift wood.
All six miles are in decent-to-excellent shape. Enjoyed all the bird - life! A couple of folks suggested parking at Fort Pulaski, not at the midpoint access. The latter is evidently plagued by car breakins, and the short path beween trail and highway is underwater at high tide.
The western portion (from the 3 mile midpoint west) of the trail is still under repair. There has been improvement in the way of added crusher run material for the surface and oyster shell seawall reinforcement. Due to some unusual high tides and strong easterly winds, the surface has been damaged by forcing water over the improved surface. The result has been wash boarding and erosion, making it very uncomfortable to bike upon, as well as extending the construction completion date . There are still more breeches to fix and one bridge to repair before this area is considered complete.
The eastern 3 mile section has held its own in terms of damage, having only a few washouts and they have little effect on walking or biking, providing an enjoyable experience. Hard to say when this will be fully completed, but eagerly looking forward to that coming to an end soon.
As of this writing, the work is well underway for filling the washouts, cutting overgrown brush, and grading the trail surface. In addition, the vulnerable areas to erosion are being shouldered with 15# bags of oyster shells stacked to serve as a buffer to waves created by passing cargo ship traffic. This has been a long time coming and is much appreciated by the regulars who frequent the trail. I was told by workers at the site there is about 6-8 weeks of work before final completion of the project (maybe by the end of June). The trail is currently open for use with some restrictions at the areas where heavy equipment is working. The completed trail runs from Ft Pulaski entrance westward for 6 miles, giving a round trip of 12 miles. There is a 3 mile midpoint access point.
I have found this to be one the more scenic and peaceful trails in the area. As others have mentioned, it is in dire need of repair on the eastern end. The trail is 6 miles long from Pulaski to the extreme eastern island hammock with a midpoint entry at the 3 mile mark. At the time of this writing, work should have begun to repair the washouts and resurface, but for some reason it is behind schedule. If you like the salt environment with sightings of wildlife, inbound/outbound ships this is trip worthwhile. Be well prepared when on this trail with bug spray, sunscreen, drinking water and any necessary bike repair tools.
We move here in July and live 2 miles from this trail. We love walking with are dog and this trail DOES not allowed DOGS. We noticed that Georgia is not very dog friendly. NO BEACHES ARE OPEN TO DOGS EITHER. Just go to tybee beach and see all the crap people leve on the beach.
We enjoyed our time on the tail. It's actually 6 miles long, not three. The last third still has severely washed out areas. Once they are repaired, will be a much safer trail.
We rode the trail today and found it to be enjoyable. There were no insects to contend with despite the heavy rains that have hit the area in recent weeks. Unfortunately we found that the trail was still washed out in several areas. This presents a hazard to everyone using the trail and I am surprized that nothing has been done by the conservancy to correct the situation. The most recent review I read on this trail mentioned the washouts and it was submitted in 2005!
"Used to be well-maintained, but now in sad shape (errosion from tides, storms). Half of it now closed. I've been walking it for a few years and it's sad to see it so neglected. Some of us are seeking action and some involved in trying to do what we can to clean it up."
"This is a very nice trail, but several sections have been washed out and are in need of repair. There are plenty of picnic tables for a lunch break - bring bug spray though for the sand gnats."
I enjoy it so much. Especially the end where there is a great rope swing and a place to enjoy a good break.
I liked this trail when I hiked it but I sugest that you use it at cooler times because it is not covered. The trail is very fun and exciting with great views of the water and you can barely hear or see the traffic because it has a barrier of all types of trees in between them.
My wife and I biked the trail several times. We both thought it would be nice if the trail would run into Savannah like the old train use to that the trail is on.
We biked this trail during the hot part of the day but still enjoyed the great ride and scenery. Wish it had been a longer ride!
"This trail is well used and well appreciated as it is the only truly ""off the main road"" trail in the area. There is a short paved section to a viewing area, but one must traverse crushed stone to get to it. Even so, there is at least one regular wheelchair user that visits.
Although the trail is in need of work (washout areas, the main bridge floods, signs down) it is very usable. I just hope that these things are taken care of before it is too late. Bird watching is good -- rails, gr. bl. heron, gr. egret, snowy egret, green heron, osprey, willet, brown pelican, cormorant, shrike, rd. wing blackbird, Louisiana heron, cardinal, mocking bird, chicken, catbird, sparrows, kingfisher, doves, tree swallow, gulls, terns, vultures, red tailed hawks, wrens, ruby cr. kinglet, yell. rump. warblers, ibis, common yellowthroat, hawks, crowlike, kestrel(rare), wood storks(overhead), also if you look hard raccoon, snakes, turtles, and lots of butterflies depending on the season."
The surface is great for running and walking because it is softer than pavement but still drains well and is smooth. The mile markers seem to be fairly accurate. Foliage on each side provides shade. No water fountains. Very close to Tybee Island. Better than most rail trails.
"Although this trail is in a beautiful location, do NOT go there thinking it will be a typical asphalt surface! After a 40 minute drive I was frustrated to find it was really some form of crushed rock! I use a handcycle (variation of a racing wheelchair with gears). I thought the trail would be paved like other asphalt trails - it wasn't. If you use a wheelchair with 3"" casters, you will probably have trouble as well."
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