Want a unique experience on a one-of-a-kind nature tour in Florida? EcoMotion Tours, operating in northeast Florida on Fort George Island and Amelia Island, is the only Segway tour of its kind in the state and is the only national park Segway tour in the U.S. With Eco-Motion Tours, you glide through North Florida’s beautiful state and national parks on your way out to waterside bluffs, plantation-era structures and historic forts. It’s a great way to combine the outdoors with modern technology that doesn’t damage the ecosystem and lets one do and see more with less effort.
A Segway is a two-wheeled, self-balancing transportation device designed to go wherever people go. Most of the time, Segways travel at about five miles per hour – about the pace of a light jog, allowing you to see more of the park in less time. That’s especially a welcomed option during warmer months of the years. People with walking ailments can also enjoy a greater opportunity to explore park trails
Neither ploddingly slow nor dangerously fast, a Segway’s control comes from the rider’s balance, much like roller-skating. The devices allow more ground to be traveled with little effort—all with zero emissions.
On my visit, I embarked on a four-mile tour of nature trails leading to Kingsley Plantation, a stately former cotton plantation. We also zipped down sandy paths through subtropical shrubs and trees, with all sorts of birds, butterflies, tortoises and other life scampering about the towering dunes and coastal habitats. EcoMotion Tours also offers trips that explore Fort George and Little Talbot Islands located near Jacksonville and Fort Clinch State Park on Amelia Island.
The company uses the Segway XT cross-terrain model that features wide, low-pressure tires that don’t tear up riding surfaces and, being battery powered, have zero emissions. It’s great for wildlife viewing due to the relative quiet compared to gas engines.
Maren and Greg Arnett own EcoMotion Tours. Our group of eight riders started with an orientation and then a series of practice runs around a wide grassy field. Laughter abounded as all of us got the hang of it within 10 minutes or so.
"We've had EcoMotion tourists from 13 to 94," says Maren. "The ride is easy and people from all over the country find themselves smitten with the beauty and rich history of this park."
A great feature with their tours involves each rider having a headset attached over an ear, allowing us to hear Greg's commentary as we explored the trails of Fort George Island. Greg and Maren provided interesting facts about the ecosystem and history of this beautiful island. Along the way, we gazed at armadillos, birds, trees and flowers.
We visited amazing shell middens, pottery shards, bones and discarded tools – remnants from an entire community. These forests and marshlands have likewise hosted English, Spanish and French explorers as well as a tribe of Timucua Indians.
The Fort George Island morning tour took us down Maritime Trail to Kingsley Plantation as well as the Ribault Club. Terrain varied from dunes, tree arches and gentle hills. Keep the camera handy to snap images of the rainbow-colored Painted Bunting Sprawling oaks, giant magnolias and aerial gardens of ferns, Spanish moss and orchids – quite beautiful.
If you prefer a briefer tour, you can head down the Maritime Trail on Fort George Island to the inlet by the same name. You’ll encounter clear waters, panoramas of marshes, sand bars and dunes.
The Little Talbot Island tour is a shorter tour. The Segways slither through the state park’s nature trail into the island’s interior. Along the way will be thick canopies of gnarled oaks and cedar trees, a maritime hammock and remarkable coastal scrub. Right where the Segways stop for a break at a remote “hitching post” of this pristine Atlantic beach. I understand the shelling is spectacular.
EcoMotion offers three trips on two islands every day except Monday. Choices on Fort George Island involve a two-hour morning Segway trip or a shorter version in the afternoon. Trips on Little Talbot Island are available Sunday mornings or by special arrangement.
EcoMotion Tours’ riders must be at least 13 years old, weigh between 100 and 260 pounds, and able to operate the steering control with the left hand while standing on the Segway's platform for the length of the one- or two-hour tour.