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J. Strom Thurmond Lake, GEORGIA

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Water and land

The main feature is the lake. Fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming. Stayed at site #12. Waterfront excellent view of lake but sunny site. Sites had water, electric, concrete table, fire ring, and lantern hook. Not much barrier between sites but sites were good size just open. Everyone was very friendly. During week it was relatively empty but on Friday the campground started to fill up. Sites in the 60-90 loop looked the best with water views and shade and most were pull through. The bathrooms were ok and there is a laundry room. The bathrooms were quite far from some sites requiring a long walk or drive. Park had a great store selling souvenirs, ice, firewood, worms for fishing. Campground staff and host were very friendly. Not much around outside park. There was a dollar general about 12 miles away for supplies. You could pull your boat up to your waterfront campsite. They also have kayak rentals.

We LOVED Our Stay!!

We went camping at Hamilton Branch State Park in October 2019 for a week. There are so many wonderful things to say about this campground. 

1) Almost ALL sites are lakefront- There are very few sites that are not right on the water. There are some sites that have a steep drop off to the water(mostly the tent sites around the sites 123-128 range). We found several sites that we thought were the best. Sites 77, 168, 98, 97, 103, 105, and a couple of others I can’t remember. Nice views and access to the water. 

2) Sites are very spaced out- We were there during a quieter time, so we had several sites around us that were empty, but even if they had been full, we thought there was a lot of space between them, and most faced the water, so they all kind of faced away from each other. So, it seems to be very private. 

3) Park is LARGE- This is a huge park, and even though there are 200 sites, those are all distributed over 9 different areas, each area consisting of at least 1 loop each. So, again, very spaced out and private. 

4) Clean Bath Houses- Obviously we stuck to the bath house closest to our site, but it was extremely clean and appointed. Toilets cleaned every morning. Shower clean with good shower curtains! If you have camped before, you have likely encountered shower curtains that were hanging on by their last 2 or 3 loops. We even brought our own, in case that was the case here. Nope, it was very nice to have the bathroom so well taken care of. 

5) Friendly Staff- We had originally booked a specific site, and when we got there, we wanted to change it(due to the steep drop to the water, that would be hard to do every day with kayaks). We looked around the park to see what else would be available and Amanda at the front office was very helpful in checking for availability and helping us change our site. In addition to the very helpful Amanda, we encountered several camp hosts. Since the park is so big, there are multiple camp hosts. Everyone we encountered was friendly, helpful and seemed to enjoy being there. 

6) Beautiful Lake/Nature- Obviously the big attraction here is the lake. Thurmond Lake is ENORMOUS. And the park is on one small part of it. We kayaked a few days and saw a lot of fish, bald eagles, geese, blue herons, white egrets, etc. At our campsite we saw a couple of deer and a few raccoons. For a 6-night stay, we only saw the raccoons one night. We must not have had very good tidbits ad they gave up on us. 

We stated several times that we will be coming back to this campground, and that it might be one of the best we have ever been to. I hope this gave you some info and insight into this park.

Great and Plenty of Trails

We stayed at the esquirion site which was large and had stables. Beautiful place and clean… Kind of tight and up hill a little getting in and out…

Tiny Treasure

Had the opportunity to stop by for one night as we returned from Hunting Island State Park.  This is a hidden little gem that is on my list to spend a couple of nights at.  They coyotes howling at night were insane but to me that adds to the camping experience.

Deep forest, buggy backcountry!

This review is of the three backcountry hike-in sites at Mistletoe State Park along the Rock Dam Trail.  I didn't stay in any of these, but checked them out as I hiked the Rock Dam Trail.  This trail was supposed to involve several water crossings, but when I was here in September, the water level was extremely low and nothing was flowing beyond a trickle.  Water in the streams was mostly still and quite murky.   If you are filtering water (and you surely will be if you are camping back here), you'll need to pre-filter well to not clog your filter (at least when it is low and murky).

If you hike the trail from the Mistletoe parking lot counter-clockwise, site #1 is about 2.8 miles in, site #2 about 4.1 miles in, and site #3 about 4.8 miles in.  (So sites #2 & #3 would be closer going clockwise.)  Water sources: sites #1 & #2 are near the stream, and #3 is near a small lake.  If the water is low like it was when I was here, the lake water was not accessible -- you'd have to trudge through 50 fifty feet of mud to get to it and you'd probably get swallowed or it would really suck anyway.  So save #3 for the springtime only I think.  The other two water was there but murky as I said.  (Apparently when the water is high the streams are really flowing and possibly near waist level to hike through at some points.)

Site #1 was the best in the most interesting location, spacious, level, pretty nice site for tents or hammocks.  Site #2 was more boring, smaller and without really good ground for a tent, although workable.  No shortage of trees for hammocks though.  Site #3 was decent (and the closest to start if you hike the trail clockwise), but again only when the lake water is high or there won't be any water (see pic).

All of these sites are in the forest and I'm sure it is quite buggy almost always, so be prepared with thermacells, bug nets, etc.  All sites had a table and fire pit.  All trash must be packed out.  The trail itself was pretty good, moderately strenuous with a fair amount of ups & downs and parts where you are in a very narrow ravine.  If the water crossings really involved water (as they do in the spring apparently) it would be even more strenuous.

Nice!

This is a review of the four walk-in tent sites at Mistletoe State Park.  I personally stayed in #4 and had a look at the others. 

The best site is definitely #2 -- feet from the water, spacious, suitable for more than one tent or hammock (better for tents as it is mostly open, but there are places for hammocks along the edges). 

Site #4 is probably second best, better for a hammocks probably (which is what I had) as no great level ground. It is not right on the water but has it's own private path to the water(couple hundred feet to the water).

Sites #1 & #3 do not really have access to the water without climbing down something steeply dangerous or through thick trees.  (The water access from the other sites is right in the middle of those other sites so you couldn't really share that unless they are empty or occupied by friends.)  Still #1 is a pretty good site.  #3 is the least interesting and smallest, but still secluded -- I wouldn't call any of these bad.

None of these sites have groomed tent pads -- just gravelly ground.   They do each have a table, fire pit, and lantern pole.  #1 & #2 are best for tents.  There is good separation between all sites.  Sites #2 & #3 are within shouting distance of each other and you'd be able to see tents, etc at one from the other.  There is an outhouse between sites #1 & #2, and another another between sites #3 & #4.  It is a 5 minute (or so) walk to the real bathroom (which also has showers) back in the main campground.

Other than the lake itself at sites #2 & #4, I didn't see any dedicated water source for these sites.  (The lake is silty -- pre-filtering recommended if you are using a filter.)  So you'd have to bring in water or get it from the bathroom area or maybe from an empty RV site which all have spigots.  You'll have to pack out your trash, and there are definitely critters around that will get in your trash so it should be secured somehow.  (Hanging it from the lantern pole isn't good enough -- you'll wake up to find a hole in the bag and it strewn around, ask me how I know.)

Everything in the park was very clean and well-maintained, although when I was here in September (during the week), the whole place was basically deserted anyway.

The water access at sites #2 & #4 is nice but it is not a real beach -- it is all large rocks for the most part and they were very slippery even when dry so be careful.  The water level was also extremely low when I was there so some of those rocks are probably covered by water earlier in the year.

Surprisingly Accomodating, Even When Crowded

I had never visited Lake Greenwood, save for driving by on the way from Augusta to Greenville. So when no other State Park had reservations available for Labor Day weekend, I was hesitant to book here. I will admit, I was mistaken. My in-laws and my parents both pulled their camper trailers, while I pulled my Jayco pop-up. I was very satisfied with the size of the spaces, which were accurate compared to the website. The camp website also accurately informs campers about the grade of campsite driveways, which did become an issue for my parent’s trailer. The sites are generally not much more than an asphalt driveway, and a gravel picnic table/fire ring area. I didn’t see many tent campers in this part of the campground, and I would imagine tent camping would be especially uncomfortable (hot) during the summer months. Electrical hookups are new, and standard, and water hookups are plenty for even the biggest of rigs.

The campground maintains decent tree/shade coverage, especially on the outer sites. The sites near/on the water are also shaded and have the added bonus of the lake breeze, although they are a bit crowded; very close to the sites next door. Speaking of which, perhaps due to the sold-out Labor Day weekend, but most probably because of the design of the campground and lakeside access, foot traffic was heavy between and around my campsite. This was annoying as always, and made me feel like I needed to bring in all of my chairs, etc when I left the site.

There are several bathhouses spread throughout the campground. Each one has two showers, two sinks, and two toilets, though at my closest bathhouse, one of the showers was out of order. The bathhouses were always very clean, and did not have the usual peeling paint and army of bugs and spiders that some bathhouses seem to maintain as a matter of principle.

Nearby Ninety Six NHS was a great half-day attraction, less than 15 mins away. Greenwood City is also a draw. Of course, the gem is Lake Greenwood. I was wishing the entire weekend that I had a boat to enjoy the cool clear water.

Bottom line, I have plans to come back on a less crowded weekend, and definitely with a boat.

Beautiful location and beautiful lake

If it weren’t for Hurricane Dorian we would have never found this gem! What a beautiful location. Most sites directly on the lake. We were 10 ft from our own swimming area. The water is clean to fish, swim, boat, kayak, jet ski. You can easily rent a pontoon and jet skis at the nearby Skippers and cruise to a great bar and grill, “break on the lake” for dinner and drinks.  The lake is big enough to explore but small enough not to get lost. The reception is helpful and bathhouses very clean.  You are 20 minutes from the cute town of Greenwood too.  Full hookups available at this state park. Picnic tables and fire rings provided too. Don’t carry your own firewood in due to possible invasive insects.

Very quiet

Raysville is a hidden gem at Clarks Hill Lake.  this campground is much quieter and more secluded than the others in the area.  they still offer decent bath houses with showers.  the only negative in my mind is the lack of a swimming area for kids.

Clean & Quiet

Winfield has a lot of really good sites, most with reasonable privacy.  The campground isn't too large as to overwhelm you.  they have several sites that work well as buddy sites too.

Very clean and very well maintained

Mistletoe takes very good care of their sites.  There are plenty of RV/tent sites to choose from as well as a few walk-in sites, a group site, and even a few back country sites.  The facilities are always extremely clean.  They also have laundry facilities available.

Outstanding

This is one of the nicest state campgrounds we have been to and we are full timers and try and stay at state parks. The sites are large sandy sites with fire ring and a very  large picnic table. There was a path down to the lake from our site. It poured one day and there was a lake outside the camper but is was gone the next day. Great drainage! There is a very pretty swimming beach and lots of picnic table around the beach area. The bath house is large and clean as are the bathrooms in the camping areas. Our pull thru site was huge! Large enough for our 35’ and loads of room at both sides of the pull thru.

Perfect sites...all paved and lots of room. Great amenities and activities

This campground is very nice. Large sites that are all paved and very clean! Nice beach area, fishing pier and store on a beautiful lake!

Pretty camp ground

Great camp ground with a lot of amenities. Nice well cared for spots with lots of shade. May want to consider reservations.

Beautiful View

Nice campground & beautiful lake. We launched our kayak from campsite.

Beautiful views!

My family loves this campground! It’s clean and has a Great Lake to swim in.

Loved the views

Everything was great about our site, except the ants!! We were overrun with ants getting into our camper, eating the dog food, and anywhere they could fit their little bodies! The site was private, we had beach access to the lake, and the loops are paved which is great for bicycles.

Favorite State Park

Sooooo many beautiful campsites to choose from! Lots of trees and spaced apart. We camp here almost every other weekend during the warm months and once a weekend during the cooler months.

A unique camping experience

Goat island can only be accessed by boat but with 5 separate spots it’s a pretty neat island to camp at. There are picnic tables and fire pits at each site, but no other accommodations. There are rarely any other campers there, but when there are they tend to leave trash at their sites. The light pollution is at a minimum for the lake so it’s beautiful and very secluded at night. There are small, but clear beaches by some of the sites suitable for beaching a pontoon or other boat, but no docks. There are squirrels and birds on the island but I haven’t seen any other wildlife there.

Amazing lakeside RV site

This SP is only open March to October but it’s hosts took great pride in clearing the sites for the season. I parked my travel trailer in site 95 and it was a great site. We were able to drag water floats and things down to the waters edge outside our site. The bath house is not new by any means but everything you need is there, keeping in mind that this park is more for water sports and recreation than a resort. The roads are a little rutted on some sides due to washout but the park is a great spot to camp. No fire rings or grills in EVERY site but there were some man-made fire pits. The trails on the park were not marked at all except for the Nature Trail in the campground. Fallen trees had destroyed the other ones but they were bike trails. This is a great and relaxing place for a camp. Spent 3 nights here and visited other state parks close by that were more expensive and less maintained than this one. Check-in is 2pm and check-out is 12 noon. I would definitely come back here again!

Not a pleasant stay

Campground had some lovely views, some sites with lake access. Water and electrical hookups at most sites. RVs and tents share same area. Bright lights were burned all night, no need in complaining to camp hosts they burned strings of bright LED lights all night too. Large groups allowed, across from our tent there was a party that included 13 children. Generally noisy, lots of traffic moving at all hours. Bathhouses well maintained. Maybe okay for RV but no sleep if using a tent.

First to Review
Weekend

Stayed here this past weekend and what a wonderful tent site! Slept in the hammock and woke up to a beautiful view!

Quiet!

Clean camp sites. Abundance of wildlife. The out houses & vault toilets are in good shape.  This park is always quiet and offers plenty of privacy

Clean

Very clean & several beaches to swim at

Unorganized

We arrived on a Saturday morning to reserve a walkin site that was available online. Paid for the site at the office only to arrive at the site and see that it was already taken, along with all the others.  Went back to the office to inform them and then were told the ranger would go check on it. Drove back to the office an hour later to be told that the site was actually the people who were already there, even though it was available in the computer. Offered a $7 refund and a different site not next to the water, like we wanted. It was poor communication all the way around and the campground was overly crowded more than the allotted cars per campsite at multiple sites. Archery activity was canceled for that day, but the people in the office had no idea why. Not on my list of places to go back to.

Positives for the park, sunsets over the lake were gorgeous and the bathrooms were nice.

Camping within history

From the main entrance is a winding wooded road to the main store. There you find friendly and helpful staff, parking for vehicles and campers, a store with all your basic needs and other little goodies. Firewood and propane are also available. Inside the store they also have a mini library you can borrow from and next to that a nature area with a live snake and turtles. Our site was easy to find, level and best of all near the waters edge. The kiddos enjoyed playing putt putt, the playground and the beach area. There is also plenty of history to see, experience and learn about.

Great campground with beautiful lake

Really great time at this campground. Sites are very large with plenty of room between sites. Some lake front, lake view and woods. Site 64 was huge with plenty of room for our two golden retrievers with lake view and woods. Kayaked around the area, water was nice and dogs loved swimming. It was in the high 90s so the shaded site helped. Bath houses were clean and centralized throughout the campground. Everyone was very friendly. Have a large beach area and playgrounds and picnic areas too. Great place to bike, will bring mine next time. Good hiking trails around the park.

Ranger Review: éclipse Equinox Hoodie Cover Up at Baker Creek SP Campground

Campground Review: 

Baker Creek is a seasonal campground, and is the place to go if you love the water and love to spend your days floating lazily in the South Carolina Midlands.  At night, if it's not cloudy, you'll get to gaze at the constellations in the gorgeous night sky.

The sites are close together, which we certainly noticed during the July 4th holiday, but at times when it's not so crowded, I'm not sure it would matter. We snagged the best sites in terms of privacy (88-96), which are on the water and have no sites across the road from them. We had to switch our site (91) with a friend (89) because we were hammock camping and sites 90-93 don't have many trees. As such, those sites also get hit by sun most of the day, although they have gorgeous views of the water. 

The majority of the campers during the July 4th weekend were in RVs, and we noticed there is less consideration towards tent campers with regards to noise and light. I guess the RVers think everyone is inside their campers and therefore can't hear them driving their car at 3 A.M., starting their boats at 5 A.M., or leaving a bright security light on all night. 

There are many swimming areas around the campsites, and they are shallow enough near-shore that kids can spend, literally, the entire day playing in the water. Bring inflatables, kayaks, boats, and canoes! 

An odd thing about the sites is that there are charcoal grills, but no fire rings! Many makeshift fire rings have been constructed using the large granite rocks that can be found in the lake, though. 

The bathroom, while old, is kept clean by the camp hosts who stay there the entire season. Hand soap is provided but no hot air or paper towels are there to dry hands. 

The trash dumpsters are a fair distance away (you'll need to drive if you have a bag of trash) and no recycling facilities are provided.

I've read online reviews that mention how old and run down Baker Creek is. I disagree. It's a beautiful SC State Park on a gorgeous lake. If your tastes run more upscale, Hickory Knob State Resort Park is right across the water and might suit you better. 

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Product Review:  

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing the éclipse Equinox Hoodie Cover Up https://eclipseglove.com/collections/frontpage/products/equinox-hoodie-beach-cover-up

The éclipse line of products spoke to me because I love to be in the sun all day, and I'm great about applying the first round of sunscreen, but after swimming and chillaxing, I get too lazy to put on more. I don't want to get out of the sun, but I just know I'm burning, especially on my chest and shoulders. Usually, I'll put on a big, long-sleeved shirt to try to hide from the rays.

éclipse makes cover ups with a special type of fabric that increases evaporative cooling and is also UPF 50+. But the sides of the shirt and undersides of the arms are open, allowing airflow where the sun isn't hitting. There is a front pocket and inside that is a cell phone pocket, which is a perfect size for making sure it doesn't slide out. 

I found it was also a good shirt to wear in the hot summer evenings while camping, because it provides mosquito protection without being stifling. 

I got compliments and questions about it when I wore it to Baker Creek. The neck is high to keep the sun off delicate neck skin, but that makes it not as fashionable.  Another option that might look more flowy and cute is the Aurora Shawl 

https://eclipseglove.com/collections/frontpage/products/aurora-beach-cover-ups

My husband took the éclipse Adjustable Neck Gaiter

https://eclipseglove.com/collections/sun-neck-gaiter/products/neck-gaiter-adjustable

on his day-long canoeing trip and it blocks the skin that a shirt doesn't normally cover while still cooling the neck. It's versatile, and can be worn in many different ways

The éclipse products are easy to clean and will be a staple in our beach/boat bag from now on!

Lack of privacy and more

Several things turn me off of this campground. First, the campsites offer absolutely no privacy or separation. Second, we paid for a premium site, however, our site (#65) flooded and became clay-muddy when it rained. It was also difficult to find due to poor labeling. Third, many of the sites did t take advantage of the view of the lake by having the hookups on the “wrong” side of the site.

Lakeside

Small campground. The sites are all dirt, very few are level. The are pretty close together. In need of maintenance.