In 2015, planned improvements to the Horton Pond area were completed in partnership with the Jekyll Island Foundation. Our goal for this project was to provide a space for people to enjoy nature, to inspire better public stewardship of the site, to improve habitat value for wildlife, and to increase educational opportunities.
The observation deck is wheelchair accessible and provides a wonderful view of the whole pond. A floating platform has been anchored in the pond to attract turtles, alligators, and birds to rest where they can easily and safely be seen from the deck. The low-lying promontory on the north side of the pond has been modified to form a small island, thereby providing habitat that is designed to attract nesting wading birds.
A nature trail named Tupelo Trail was also added. It is a 0.7-mile loop that begins near the observation deck and passes through several of Jekyll Island’s maritime plant communities. Plant description plaques are posted along the trail, and allow visitors to learn key characteristics and fun facts about a few of our native plant species, such as the Tupelo Trees – for which the trail is named – Resurrection Ferns, and several different types of blueberries. The trail winds through multiple habitats and gives a different perspective of the natural beauty Jekyll Island has to offer.
The facilities are simple, so as not to intrude on the surroundings, with a small parking area and a bicycle rack. Horton Pond is one of Jekyll Island’s hidden gems. Discover it down the unmarked road leading into the woods across the street from the Villas by the Sea Resort’s main entrance on Beachview Dr.
We are currently raising money through the Jekyll Island Foundation for a route, which is a historic road, presumably dating back to the period when the Horton House was an occupied plantation, that will physically connect the Horton House historic site on the riverside of the island and Horton Pond. They sit approximately 0.6 miles apart, across the island’s central maritime forest, and are currently connected by an unimproved and mostly unmaintained service road. Once this path is completed, it will add a new way to traverse the island’s majestic interior from two of our signature locations.
Please be mindful to pick up after yourself and others when visiting. Remember feeding any wild animals – including alligators and turtles – is strictly prohibited on Jekyll Island for their safety and yours.
*The observation deck at Horton Pond may be closed to the public during certain programming events, like Gatorology.