You won’t need a time machine to visit colonial-era Georgia later this month — just a kayak.
The staff of Fort King George State Historic Site in Darien is offering “Rice, Riches and Redcoats: An Overnight Paddle Trip.” The two-day trip, April 22-23, will weave through the coastal waterways and manmade canals of the Golden Isles, stopping at historic locations along the way.
“We’ll be taking the same routes ferry boats used to take from Darien to St. Simons Island or Brunswick,” said Jason Baker, an interpretative ranger at Fort King George and trip guide. “The trip is focused on the creation of some of these manmade watersways and how they were used to move agricultural goods.”
The trip costs $195 per person and includes a boat and paddles, lifejacket and all meals. Participants will meet at Fort Frederica National Monument, 6515 Frederica Road, St. Simons Island, at 10 a.m. April 22. A shuttle will take them to Fort King George, where the paddle will begin.
Paddlers will travel 8 miles from Fort King George to a stop on Butler Island, where guides will offer a tour of the historic plantation, where famed baseballer Babe Ruth once visited.
“I know he visited about 100 years ago,” Baker said. “He and some of the other (New York) Yankees were guests of the plantation’s owner, and they went hunting. The story goes that they woke up early and drank maybe a few too many Bloody Marys and Babe Ruth shot a cow. Apparently, after a few drinks, maybe he thought it was an elk.”
After the Butler Island stop, the tour will continue to Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, where the group will spend the night and a low-country boil will be served for the evening meal. Camping gear is not included in the trip’s cost, so attendees will need to bring their own tents, sleeping bags and other amenities. Paddlers will not have to carry gear in their boats, however; Fort King George staff will deliver it by shuttle from Fort Frederica.
The morning of April 23, a rice-dish breakfast will be served — an homage to the days when Hofwyl-Broadfield was a massive rice plantation — and the paddlers will continue to Fort Frederica. Baker said the two-day trip’s route is unique, and it’s the first time Fort King George has offered it.
“This is an exclusive trip,” Baker said. “I’m not aware of this route being offered by anybody else. It’s a great way to celebrate Earth Day (April 22) and learn more about the environment we live in.”
The paddle from Hofwyl-Broadfield to Fort Frederica is about 10 miles, and will be moderately difficult. The trip is recommended for experienced paddlers and is not suitable for children under age 12. Baker said he expects the trip to conclude by 6 p.m. April 23.
While boats and meals are provided, participants should bring sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, water and snacks along with their camping gear. Two guides will lead the trip — one in the front of the kayak caravan, and another bringing up the rear to be sure no one is separated.
Baker hopes history and nature enthusiasts alike will enjoy the first-of-its-kind paddle trip.
“Why travel across the country when we have all of this right here in our backyard?” Baker said. “This is a great way to celebrate Earth Day by doing something other than sitting at home. Folks will come away with a renewed, further understanding of the environment and history of this area.”
The deadline to register for the trip is April 18. Space is limited to 16 participants. Single-seat and a limited number of tandem kayaks will be available. For more information, or to register, call Fort King George, 302 McIntosh Road, Darien, at 437-4770 or visit www.gastateparks.org/fortkinggeorge.