Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites

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.


List of Birds Observed
Hofwyl Plantation

February 4-12,1928
1. Turkey Vulture 22. Wild Turkey 43. Pine Warbler
2. Black Vulture 23. Red-Bellied Woodpecker 44. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
3. Marsh Hawk 24. Red-Cockaded Woodpecker 45. Tufted Titmouse
4. Florida Red-Shoulder Hawk 25. Downy Woodpecker 46. Carolina Chicadee
    26. Pileated Woodpecker 47. Catbird
5. Cooper's Hawk 27. Flicker 48. Mockingbird
6. Sparrow Hawk 28. Towhee 49. Brown Thrasher
7. Bald Eagle 29. Florida Towhee 50. Tree Swallow
8. Barred Owl 30. Goldfinch 51. House Wren
9. Crow 31. Song Sparrow 52. Winter Wren
10. Fish Crow 32. Bachman's Sparrow 53. Carolina Wren
11. Blue Jay 33. English Sparrow 54. Short-Billed Marsh Wren
12. Killdeer 34. White-Throated Sparrow 55. Loggerhead Shrike
13. Wilson's Snipe 35. Savannah Sparrow 56. Phoebe
14. King Rail 36. Fox Sparrow 57. Brown Creeper

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


  1. Main House/detached kitchen
  2. Garage/Icehouse/Laundry
  3. Restrooms
  4. Servants' Quarters
  5. Dairy Barn/Commissary
  6. Bottling House
  7. Pay Shed


Key: Gate: Building: Overlook/Observation: Woods: Marsh:


Hofwyl's Trees

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 respect.

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."

Free Mobile App! eNews GeorgiaAmerica's State Parks