At the Suwannee Canal Recreation Area in Folkston, GA, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge offers Swamp Island Drive. This is a self-guided auto tour “lollipop route” of a total 7.2 miles. Lollipop routes are routes that go in and come out the same way, but have a small loop at the end for seamless turnaround. Swamp Island Drive has 12 numbered markers that indicate trails, historic sites, and other interesting points of interest. The drive starts after the fee booth, but before you reach the parking lots. There is no running water on this tour route so have full water bottles and plan for no sinks. There are pit toilets with hand sanitizer at the homestead and boardwalk parking lots.
Grab a brochure at the start of the drive near the Canal Diggers Trail parking area, in the main parking lot kiosk, or in the Visitor Center. These brochures explain each numbered marker along the tour. There are places to pull over at trailheads and at stop number four for wildlife viewing at a pond with our residential alligator and soft-shell turtles and yellow-bellied sliders. Please remember not to feed any animals on the refuge.
Post nine showcases a ditch, which is now filled almost-permanently with water and makes a great spot for viewing blooming water lilies, alligators and shore birds. Sandhill cranes and anhinga enjoy this ditch as a nice resting place. This drive will take you to the Chesser Island Homestead and Chesser Island Boardwalk.