Georgia Coast

Text: Joan Cederquist • Photography: Joan Cederquist, Mark Cederquist

The Georgia coast might not be the first place that comes to mind for a quick motorcycle ride from Atlanta. But with only a weekend to spare, my husband and I wanted somewhere that we could ride to, within a few hours of our home in North Atlanta. With its rich history, live oaks draped with Spanish moss, and remote barrier islands, the Georgia coast sounded like a perfect ride and destination.
Wanting to avoid the summer vacation crowds, we decide to take this short trip in mid-May, but we quickly realize that there probably aren't any crowds in the remote areas we visit. Very early on a Friday morning, we load up our Harley and take off, skirting Atlanta's crowded expressways and opting instead for side roads to take us toward Savannah. Along the way we pass through many quaint towns, including Braselton, Winder, Watkinsville, Social Circle, and Eatonton, most of which barely have a Main Street and a gas station or two. About 80 miles from Savannah, we hop on I-16 and then take I-95 South, exiting toward Darien. We had decided to avoid the touristy towns of Savannah, Brunswick, and Jekyll Island. Consequently, we encounter very little traffic during the entire trip. But the real bonus of this spring ride is the sweet aroma of the wild honeysuckle - something cycle riders can easily take for granted, but most car riders never even experience.

With only a little pre-planning, we had rented a perfect cottage near Darien - one bedroom, with a fully equipped small kitchen and a back porch. The owners had stocked the kitchen with a variety of lettuce grown in their greenhouse. And if that wasn't enough of a lure, the cottage came with the use of two bicycles, kayaks, a rope swing, and an abundance of hummingbirds sipping from feeders!

We stop to unload the bike and then immediately head to Harris Neck Wildlife Preserve, just about 20 miles north. We travel along quiet two-lane roads bordered by palmetto and huge oaks, their Spanish moss dripping. This Preserve was established in 1962 by transfer of federal lands formerly managed by the Federal Aviation Administration as a WWII Army airfield. Parts of the old airfield are still visible on the ride. In the summer, thousands of egrets and herons nest in the swamps - in the winter, many ducks (especially mallards, gadwall, and teal) gather in the marshland and freshwater pools. Chosen for its accessibility and bird diversity, Harris Neck is one of 18 sites forming the Colonial Coast Birding Trail.

(End of preview text.)

For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the March/April 2010 back issue.