Geocaching on Seminole State Park's Gopher Tortoise Trail
Having an opportunity to finally get away for a long overdue Geocaching adventure, we decided to traverse 90 miles west from Valdosta to a remote corner of Southwest Georgia. Located about 20 miles off of US 84, and just prior to entering Alabama, you'll find Seminole State Park in the small town of Donalsonville, Georgia. The drive was a relatively easy one for us and we were all eager to find another one of those beautiful green ammo cans with the highly sought after "state park stamp" inside (those who are familiar with Geocaching will understand what I mean). Joining us for our adventure would be our two trail dogs, Walker (left) and Spencer (right).
At first glance, the park seems to be a bit undersized. And though we didn't spend much time exploring the park itself, it was typical in that it was beautifully maintained. If you haven't been to a Georgia State Park, excuse me while I unashamedly boast about them. With that in mind, I will not spend much time critiquing the amenities of the park, instead, I will focus on our experience on the Gopher Tortoise Nature Trail.
Like many of the parks that we've visited before, there is a small parking area at the trail's head, and at the initial entry point you can find typical information/warnings such as the one above. Since I didn't have a trail map, I was careful to create a 'waypoint' on my GPS just in case we had trouble finding our way back. Most trails that we've visited this year are clearly marked, but from time to time we've noticed that fire-breaks and service vehicle trails can cause a bit of confusion while attempting to stay on the trail. If there be one semi-negative critique that I have about the trails at our Georgia State Parks, it would be this. At Seminole State Park, however, we found only one instance of this and it may have been resolved had I had a trail map. Thankfully, our initial decision to go left was the correct one. For your future reference, I am referring to the direction that you should take after ascending from the "wetlands" and you approach a bench. At that point, the trail goes off to the left and right.
As far as the difficulty of the trail goes, it was 2.2 miles and we found it to be easy to moderate. We encountered a few instances where the trails ascend slightly, but there really wasn't much of a need to exert any extra energy. We found it very manageable. We did encounter a fire break, or two, along the trail, but they didn't seem to interfere with our ability to stay on the trail. I would suggest, however, that there be just a few more directional signs, or directional blazes. Again, we probably wouldn't have had an issue if we had a trail map. (Note: the Park Ranger had posted a sign on the Welcome Center door that he/she was at lunch and would return at 1:00pm. Therefore, since we arrived at 12:45, we did not wait around to get a trail map. There were none located at the trail head.)
Perhaps it was the time of year (January 28), but the wildlife was non-existent. In fact, the only thing that we witnessed worth noting was a cute little dog on the trail that seems to have wondered off from his owners. He did make things interesting, however, since we had our two trail dogs with us. Thankfully, there wasn't much cause for alarm, but we did have to hold Spencer for a while since he wasn't particularly pleased with our new trail guest.
I previously stated that we didn't spend much time exploring the amenities of the park, but we did notice a nice size RV camping area that seemed to have quite a few guests. Additionally, we passed by some great looking cabins/cottages along the lakeside. Along the trail, we came across a pioneer camping area, and we also observed a treehouse camping site. According to the website, it will sleep 15 people.
Other opportunities for enjoyment at Seminole State Park are a children's playground, a beach, and plenty of fishing docks and a boat ramp. Picnic tables are also abundant throughout.
In case you are wondering, somewhere along the path, we were able to locate our prize.
So if you find yourself down around the Southwest corner of Georgia, or the Southeast corner of Alabama, I'd recommend that you take the time to visit Seminole State Park. In fact, I'd recommend that you take the time to visit any of our State Parks. It's a great way to spend the day having fun, enjoying family, or just 'plain ole relaxing'!