Lake Lanier with beach

Don Carter –

  • 44 campsites
  • 8 cottages
  • 4 picnic shelters
  • 12 primitive campsites

I had the pleasure of exploring one of Georgia’s newest parks, Don Carter on the north side of Lake Lanier. With over 1,316 acres to explore, we found plenty to do.

There were several choices for overnight getaways; two-bedroom cabins, a campground that accommodates RVs, a camping area reserved just for tents and hammocks and a primitive yurt site.

After checking into one of their beautiful and spacious cabins, we ventured on a hike that led us to the beach at Don Carter. With over four miles of trails, we were never concerned with getting lost because the trails were very well marked.

The beach swimming area was free of debris, with clean restrooms for changing.

Stand-up paddleboards were available for rent, as well as kayaks and aquacycles. Boat ramps were also available to provide quick access to the lake. You can launch a boat, fish from the shore or cast a line from the fishing pier!

There were several playgrounds and pavilions to rent with grills with clean restrooms.

It's a beautiful park for a large gathering or place to plan a family reunion. Definitely a park to explore!

Want to try a yurt?

Tugaloo –

  • 100 campsites
  • 6 yurts
  • 20 cottages
  • 7 picnic shelters
  • 1 group shelter
  • 11 walk-in campsites
  • 1 pavilion

Situated on a wooded peninsula, Tugaloo’s cottages and most campsites offer spectacular views of 55,590-acre Lake Hartwell in every direction. Some cottages even have private boat docks for overnight guests. Tent campers can choose between the developed campground or primitive sites located a short walk from the parking area. During summer, the lake is a popular destination for swimming, water skiing, sailing and boating. Both the Sassafras and Muscadine hiking trails wind through oak, walnut, mulberry and cherry trees.

Tugaloo State Park boasts a six-lane mega ramp used for large fishing tournaments and easy lake access. Fishing is excellent year round, and large-mouth bass are plentiful. The name “Tugaloo” comes from an Indian name for the river which once flowed freely prior to the construction of Hartwell Dam.

Newly renovated mountain cabins

Fort Mountain –

  • 62 campsites
  • 15 cottages
  • 7 picnic shelters
  • 1 group shelter
  • 3 pioneer camps
  • 4 walk-in campsites
  • 4 backcountry campsites

A scenic drive on Highway 52 near the Cohutta Wilderness leads visitors to this mountain getaway. Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders will find some of the most beautiful trails in Georgia, winding through hardwood forest and blueberry thickets, crossing streams and circling a pretty lake. Hikers can also explore a stone fire tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and an ancient rock wall which stand on the highest point of the mountain. The mysterious 855-foot-long wall is thought to have been built by early Indians as fortification against more hostile Indians or for ancient ceremonies.

During summer, visitors can cool off on a lakeside beach. Park guests may stay overnight in fully equipped cottages, a campground or backpacking campsites.

Pretty trails, camping and golf

Victoria Bryant –

  • 35 campsites - Reserve
  • 1 other overnight accommodations - Reserve
  • 5 picnic shelters - Reserve
  • 2 pioneer camps - Reserve

Nestled in the rolling hills of Georgia’s upper Piedmont, this is one of northern Georgia’s best kept secrets. A beautiful stream flows through the park, providing the perfect setting for an after-picnic stroll. Hikers can follow either the short nature trail or the longer perimeter trail that travels through hardwoods and crosses creeks. Animal lovers should keep an eye out for wildlife while passing food plots along the perimeter trail. Two small ponds are open for public fishing, and a swimming pool is open during summer. Campers can stay overnight in the small, comfortable campground.

Golfers will enjoy the park’s superbly-conditioned Highland Walk Golf Course with full amenities and reasonable rates. Memberships, golf packages and tournament pricing are available. The course is built on steep, rolling hills with broad, crowned Bermuda fairways leading to generous, sloping Bermuda greens. The course’s Bluebird Cottage is available for overnight golf packages.

Great day trip

Hardman Farm –

Hardman Farm Historic Site has no reservable facilities.

The Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound at Hardman Farm is perhaps the best known feature of Hardman Farm, located just south of Helen in White County. The gazebo-topped mound and cow pasture is a favorite landmark in North Georgia with exceptional ties to Native American history.

Guided house tours include the 19th-century parlor, original lighting and interesting telephone and climate control system. Visitors will also see the bedroom belonging to Anna Ruby Nichols, the namesake of nearby Anna Ruby Falls. The old barn was the focal point of Nacoochee Dairy that operated from 1910 until the mid-1920s. Guests will learn how milk was processed and transported, plus they will see a spring house and former horse barn. The tree-lined road leading from the visitor center to the house is a remaining portion of the historic Unicoi Turnpike. This 200-mile road went from Toccoa to western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. It began as a buffalo trail, then a Native American trading route.

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