Summer is calling, and outdoor lovers will soon be on the hunt for the perfect destinations to enjoy water activities. Lucky for locals and visitors, Georgia State Parks offer a plethora of ways to get wet, including paddling, boating, fishing and kayaking just to name a few. And whether you’re heading for the hills or to some other part of the state for your summer vacation, there’s some great scenery, too.
The Park Paddlers Club offers an abundance of scenic waterways to explore, for both seasoned paddlers and beginners. Whether paddling in a kayak, in a canoe or on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP), paddle the 24 miles of water trails at the six participating state parks and earn a Park Paddlers t-shirt and bragging rights. In addition to the six state parks in the Park Paddlers Club, visitors can rent kayaks, canoes and SUPs to explore a variety of mountain lakes, coastal waters and winding rivers, all located within Georgia state parks. Find a complete list of parks with paddling at GaStateParks.org/Paddling.
Georgia State Parks are an angler’s paradise with reservoirs, streams and rivers, lakes of all sizes and saltwater fishing. Many bass fishermen equate “The Bass Capital of the World” to George T. Bagby’s Lake Walter F. George. In fact, the size and variety of fish are rivaled only by the varieties of unspoiled environments, from bass at Tugaloo and Hart Outdoor Recreation Area, to crappie at Seminole, Red Top Mountain and Richard B. Russell. Several of the parks have created programs that allow you to borrow equipment for little or no charge. Find a fishing spot at GaStateParks.org/Fishing.
In addition to lakeside beaches, dozens of Georgia State Parks provide public boat ramps and docks, a few with their own docks adjacent to campgrounds and cabins. Boat rentals are available at more than 20 state parks. Larger lakes even allow boaters to partake in water skiing, sailing and other personal watercraft activities, however, some parks on smaller lakes have horsepower restrictions to preserve the tranquil setting and wildlife. See a full list of boat ramps at GaStateParks.org/Boating.
Nothing says summer like a trip to the lake. Georgia State Parks’ sandy swimming beaches serve up all the amenities of a trip to the coast without the expense. Check out the beaches at parks like Red Top Mountain, Hard Labor Creek or Tugaloo. If swimming pools are more your style, head to F.D. Roosevelt, High Falls, Little Ocmulgee or Victoria Bryant state parks. Kids will find fun ways to play in the water with splash pads at Magnolia Springs, Little Ocmulgee and Gordonia-Alatamaha. Find a lake, pool or splash pad at GaStateParks.org/Swimming.
Editor’s Note: This story is part of Head for the Hills, our annual special section about Georgia vacation spots and properties.