Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge is one of the seven refuges administered as part of the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex. The refuge is located in McIntosh County, Georgia, 45 miles south of the port city of Savannah. Archaeological and historical records show that many different populations have benefited from Harris Neck's resources over the centuries: Guale Indians inhabited these areas, collecting fish, shellfish, and game, from 1500 - 1715 AD. Beginning in 1750, English and Scottish settlers farmed the land intensively, producing many crops including renowned, high-quality Sea Island cotton. African-American families established a farming and shell-fishing community following the Civil War. Their historic cemetery is still in use and can be visited from Barbour River Landing. In the early 20th century, tobacco magnate Pierre Lorillard founded an estate that had a large mansion, formal gardens, and a dock for yachts. During World War II, the U.S. military purchased the land for an airfield and pilot training facility. Remnants of the runways can still be seen today. Since its designation as a wildlife refuge in 1962, Harris Neck has served as a premier nesting, foraging, and wintering habitat for many species of wildlife. Signature species include wood storks, which nest in a large colony on Woody Pond, and the colorful and uncommon painted bunting, which favors nesting habitat in the refuge's maritime scrub areas. The refuge encompasses six man-made freshwater ponds, as well as extensive salt marsh, open fields, forested wetlands, and mixed hardwood/pine forest. This diversity of habitat makes the refuge an important resource for migratory birds (342 species of birds have been seen on the refuge and 83 species breed here). Open during daylight hours.
It's a good day hike spot. There are many little trails so it's nice to be able to pick how far you want to go by combining some of them. Some of the trails aren't marked clearly and there are many service trails, so keep your map close and your head thinking and you'll be fine.
Several trails, dirt and paved, all great for easy bicycle riding or walking. Some trails more scenic than others. Located about 13 small alligators in the distance, several types of birds, trees, flowers,and stopped counting after 200 butterflies. Very scenic, always something nice to look at. Bring your camera, and your sense of adventure. Remember, it is all up to you to have a good time. Area is loaded with incredible history. Great places (not all) to let the kids run & explore with adult supervision. We took our 6 yr old, and he did great. Good idea- bring binocullars with flower and bird books to identify your findings along the way. Take only pictures, leave only footprints. Please keep our parks litter free.
Great spot for birding, hiking and/or biking. Wood storks, herons, egrets, warblers, painted bunting, grebes, coots, and other migratory birds and ducks find the ponds and wooded areas perfect for shelter and nurture. Home, too, for alligators and turtles. Trails are flat and groomed. Small nature/visitor center on property. Restrooms available at center. Various trails crisscross the area, most leading to wildlife viewing areas.