Explore 40 years of Chatham County trees with the Savannah Tree Foundation scavenger hunt

The Savannah Tree Foundation has designated trees throughout Chatham County in celebration of 40 years planting trees in the community. Trees like this one are also tagged on a Google map and ready to be found in an interactive, local scavenger hunt.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

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The Savannah Tree Foundation has designated trees throughout Chatham County in celebration of 40 years planting trees in the community. Trees like this one are also tagged on a Google map and ready to be found in an interactive, local scavenger hunt.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

My 10th birthday was most excellent. Mom put together a doozy of a sleepover, in which six friends and I stayed up late watching “Legend,” “The Dark Crystal,” and “Space Camp” all on VHS. She made the most ginormous vat of cheesy popcorn and set up our big tent in the back yard for us to sleep in.

But the scavenger hunt was the best part. Mom had my friends and I scouring the neighborhood knocking on doors, searching for clues and asking neighbors to help us find goofy things like one blue baby sock, or a white plastic thimble. It was an absolute hit with everyone, neighbors included.

That birthday sparked in me a life-long love of adventuring and scavenger hunting.

If you like being outside, walking and looking around, Savannah Tree Foundation has the perfect experience for you.

From July 1 through July 11, the community’s arboreally-focused non-profit hosts its, “40 Years of Growth Scavenger Hunt,” where you can seek out some of the 5,000 trees the organization has planted since 1982. And win some really cool swag.

Here's how it works: A link at the Savannah Tree Foundation's website takes you to a Google map with designated trees throughout Savannah and Chatham County. They have signs placed near them, and all you have to do is find a tree on the map, take a picture and then either post and tag the image to @savannahtreefoundation on social media, or email your photos to them.

For each one tagged or emailed, you are registered for the final raffle on June 12. If you submit 10 photos, your name goes into the drawing 10 times, putting you in the running to win hats, t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, and more.

From the Google map, I created a scavenger hunt plan of action. There are many trees to choose from, but I decided to focus my first efforts downtown where I could walk and enjoy the Historic District, then head out to the southside by car and grab images there.

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Magnolia tree planted in downtown Savannah in 2021.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

Magnolia tree planted in downtown Savannah in 2021.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

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Magnolia tree planted in downtown Savannah in 2021.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

South of Forsyth Park lands you free parking and close proximity to The Sentient Bean where you can pop in for coffee and then go next door to Brighter Day Natural Foods for a portable snack of almonds and cashews — in case you want to share with the squirrels as you walk.

The first tree to find was near the corner of Charlton and Drayton, but since Drayton is such a busy thoroughfare, I ventured through Forsyth and up Bull Street to better enjoy downtown’s lovely flora and fauna.

Savannah’s Historic District in summer never disappoints — Forsyth Park is especially wonderful. Currently, the hydrangeas and crepe myrtles are blooming, and flocks of Mississippi kites are enjoying the myriad insects that proliferate this time of year. In the park, I noticed a gentleman who’d paused to admire the kites diving and swooping for insects above the open field near Whitaker Street.

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Hydrangeas in bloom in Forsyth Park.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

Hydrangeas in bloom in Forsyth Park.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

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Hydrangeas in bloom in Forsyth Park.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

We both lingered and agreed they must be aware of our presence, as they seemed extra flashy in their aerial acrobatics, rolling and diving closely above our heads — delightful show-offs!

Once through Forsyth, I headed east on Jones Street to intersect with Drayton and locate my first tree, which, according to the map tag, was a crepe myrtle in or near a parking lot. Turns out, though, it wasn’t just one tree. Savannah Tree Foundation reclaimed an entire strip of land between the street and parking lot large enough for five crepe myrtles, which were planted in 2012.

The next tree was just up Drayton at Liberty Street. Again, it was more than one. All around the intersection are trees marked with signs. I snapped a photo of a magnolia and then made my way back south to the corner of Park Lane and Habersham Street. There, in front of a small community garden, rose a line of four lacebark elms planted in 2015.

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A line of crepe myrtles planted in 2012 in the Historic District of Savannah.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

A line of crepe myrtles planted in 2012 in the Historic District of Savannah.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

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A line of crepe myrtles planted in 2012 in the Historic District of Savannah.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

From there, I made my way back to the car and drove toward the intersection of White Bluff Road and Montgomery Cross. On White Bluff for more than a half-mile stretch, the foundation planted a series of live oak trees in 1993 when the road was widened.

Though I did snap one picture from a safe distance in a nearby parking lot, getting images of these trees requires a team effort, as there’s really no safe way to cross into the median for photos. This is where you grab your mom, kids, roommate — assemble a bigger team — and have one of them drive while you take a picture, or get them to take photos while you drive.

But these trees aren’t the only ones. There are 144 trees at Lake Mayer; there’s at least one in Garden City; some in Port Wentworth and Pooler — in fact, there are designated trees in places from Bloomingdale to Tybee Island. It’s impressive and gives a glimpse into just how prolific the foundation has been in planting trees in Chatham County these past 40 years.

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A live oak planted in 1993 during street widening on Savannah's southside.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

A live oak planted in 1993 during street widening on Savannah's southside.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

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A live oak planted in 1993 during street widening on Savannah's southside.

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

Credit: Josephine Johnson / For Savannah Morning News

If you'd like to get in on the tree scavenger hunt and possibly check out parts of beautiful Chatham County you may not have seen, visit Savannah Tree Foundation's scavenger hunt page at savannahtree.org/40-years-of-growth-scavenger-hunt to get all the information.

You can also email them at info@savannahtree.com.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Explore 40 years of Chatham County trees with the Savannah Tree Foundation scavenger hunt


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