Hofwyl Plantation encompasses 1268 acres that were part of a former rice
plantation along the Georgia coast. Today, it is managed by the state's
Department of Natural Resources as an historic site. Part of the site's
preservation effort is in the maintaining of the natural life that is
part of its unique ecosystem of fresh and salt water marsh. It includes
a great variety of native plants and trees, as well as a wealth of aquatic
and land animals.
Hofwyl maintains two nature trails that provide excellent opportunity
for both observation and photography. Marsh overlooks provide superb viewing
of many species of water birds and occasional alligators and snakes. These
same trails include a fresh water pond, historic camellia gardens, giant
oaks and magnolias and an award-winning holly tree.
Birds? Did You Say Birds?
As part of Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding Trail, Hofwyl
Plantation provides habitat for a variety of birds. A list of those observed
at Hofwyl Plantation February 4-12, 1928 contains some 57 species and
can be found in the museum.
T. Gilbert Pearson, President of the National Audubon Society at that
time wrote an article for the North American Review in March of
1929 after a visit to the site. His writing entitled "Birds of an
Old Rice Field" includes vivid descriptions of the rich variety of
birds and is as appropriate today as then.
There are two nature trails marked on the map provided.
Additional nature paths lie across Highway 17 and include observation
areas and a pond, currently dry.
Use the map below to follow the nature trails around the homesite at Hofwyl.
There are two trails:
Short Nature Walk is 1/4 mile from the Visitors'
Center to the House and Outbuildings and direct return to Visitors' Center.
Long Nature Walk is 1 mile from the Visitors' Center
to the Observation Deck, Marsh Overlooks, House and Buildings and Return
to the Visitors' Center.
Click on the map above for a larger view
If Trees Could Speak ...
They'd have a lot to say at Hofwyl Plantation
by Andy Beckman, Park Ranger
The size, shape, age and beauty of the trees at Hofwyl Plantation command
Guests of the vistitors center are greeted by an immense American Holly,
ilex opaca. Such a rare beauty is this grand tree that it is a
National Big Tree Champion as named by the American Forests. American
Forests has coordinated the National Register of Big Trees since 1940.
Along the Ricefield Nature Trails, another state champion Sweetbay Magnolia,
magnolia virginiana, lives next to the footbridge and can't be missed.
Also along the trail is a 150-year-old Loblolly Pine, Pinus taeda.
Surviving a lightning strike, its gigantic trunk and limbs will remain
a silent testament to its living grandeur for years to come.
Two majestic live oaks, Quercus virginiana, wear long festoons
of spanish moss, like a gray beard, testifying to their age of more than
500 years each. Both are officially recorded in the famous Louisiana Live
Oak Society, which serves as a Live Oak Hall of Fame for notable members
of the species scattered throughout the Southeast. The trees have been
named Ophelia and Miriam Live Oak, after the two maiden sisters who ran
the plantation during its dairy farming days. Finally, two regal Southern
Magnolias, Magnolia gradiflora, planted at the end of the 19th
century, stand side-by-side with their wide spreading boughs at the front
entrance to the plantation house.
Come to Hofwyl Plantation, and see for yourself why we say,"If trees
could talk, they'd have a lot to say at Hofwyl Plantation."