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Lake Sidney Lanier, GEORGIA
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Camping Georgia Lake Sidney Lanier
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My spirit place (but that's just me)

This location will likely get less stars from other campers. It seems like it's in the middle of nowhere up a winding dirt road but once you get there people seem to be all over the place. The flat, wooded, dispersed campsites have a little too much trash to be so far removed and the entire site centers around this behemoth of civil engineering- the large cabled swinging bridge that spans the Toccoa River.

But this will forever be my first love of North Georgia. I stumbled into this site on a winter night during a downpour on the Benton Mackeye trail. I had a trash bag for a backpack cover and had just started working at a wilderness camp for troubled youth. It was the 90s when such a thing could be done. I had just moved back to the deep south with a broken heart and the elements of southern Appalachia in winter seemed to match my internal pain. I had no idea where we were, I just knew from the group of miscreants that we had reached our destination and quickly went to work setting up my 2 pole wal-mart tent with a tarp for a rain fly. In the drowning rain, I used the last dry clothes I had to mop up the puddles inside my tent around my sleep pad. My down sleeping bag was soaked at the head and foot. I remembered an old school trick to fight off hypothermia and stripped down naked and crawled into a fetal ball in the dry center of my sleeping bag and fell asleep for the night.

The next morning the rain had stopped but the sound of rushing water felt like being rebirthed as I emerged from my tent like a wet rat to find this magical river, forest of trees, mountain laurel, a lovely waterfall and the little slice of civilization- the bridge to remind me that I was still in an earthly place. We stayed there for 4 days while the troubled kids staked out their solo sites and journaled. The sun came out during the day and dried everything out and the night campfires warmed my core. Each day I came a little more alive. It was for me a place of healing.

I returned in 2005 with my then boyfriend now husband. This time it was by inner tube on the river. It was at dusk and we were behind schedule in reaching our car so we got out and walked the 1+ mile dirt road in the dark with no shoes or flashlight back to the highway to call for help. When my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer she flew to Georgia to see me and I brought her here. She pressed her broken breast to the trees and we listened to the river. She is now in remission 13 years later. When I got married my bachelorette party was here and we all jumped In the river naked after dark squealing with delight at being women.

This place feels like the back country because it is up a road that, in my opinion should be driven by a 4x4. But I saw plenty of mini vans and sedans. The round rocks lining the lovely waterfall and little islands I. The river make for great places to just be in the quiet but there are almost always people there in the summer. Between boaters and fisherman and day trippers it is not as secluded as the spot seems to want to be. But it is worth a visit. Campsites are plenty. They are nice and flat and dispersed. But Bridge an extra trash bag and try to leave it better than you found it. The land deserves it.

Great for families!

A lot of things to do here in the park. Pool is nice! Staff is very nice! Lots are real nice. A creek runs through the campground and is wonderful to sit by. Full hookups. Wi-Fi is a bit weak in places so you are using your phone mostly. We will come back.

Pretty

Pretty campground to sit and relax at.

Fantastic

Beautiful campground with access to huge park with lots of fun things to do. Seasonal events always happening too. Fun taking the sky lift to the top of the mountain and hiking back down. Beautiful and historic place

Worst campground ever seen.

The worst designed campground I have ever seen. Tent sites converted for RV, what a joke. Sites are washed out,because of poor design. Lake side sites are negligently dangerous(no rocks and ga red clay straight down, major erosion). No wild life seen. Bathhouse is covered in mold and not stocked. Only has one dump station. Will NEVER be back to this site.

Good Place for a beginner kayaker

I am new to kayaking and recently bought my own boat. I wanted to take it someplace with a small, safe lake to spend the weekend practicing. Ft. Yargo was perfect, because I was able to tie my boat up to a tree right at my campsite. I was at site 42, which is a walk-in tent site. It served my purpose well. Otherwise, it's kind of a low-key run-of-the-mill state park. There's a beach for swimming, mini-golf, biking/hiking trails, picnic and grilling space, and they also rent boats (paddle boats, jon boats, kayaks, and possibly canoes). It's close to Atlanta, so if you want to go for a quick trip away from the city, this is a good spot.

A little dated!

Nice quiet campground. It appeared that it’s been there a while and could use a little updating. The loop road for RVs is a little tight. Our site, #65 was at the end of a spur road and the makeshift turnaround area was extremely tight. Only other complaint was the lack of water pressure at our site. I’m not sure if all the sites had low pressure, but I needed up using the water pump to supplement for the shower.

All that being said, the campground was beautiful and quiet. Just a note, public access to the lakes in this area is limited if you’re looking for swimming, kayaking, etc. and the roads are narrow. It’s easier to enter the campground from the west.

Wow - don't know what to say

There are some pretty sites here, they are level, and some have beautiful overlooks of Lake Lanier.  Very convenient to any stores you might need.  However, this campground is out of control.  When we arrived at 3pm to check in, there was someone in our site that was supposed to check out the day before.  The Ranger and Campground host wasn't even aware, hadn't checked.  Then a large group checked in across from us that unloaded 2 loud Harley's and two small motorbikes, immediately turned the music up LOUD and road laps around the campground on the Harley's for hours.  They set two large tents up completely off their campsites - one of the group actually slept on the picnic table all night.  There were times no one was in the gate house (there wasn't a gate though) so there was no control on who came in and out.  My last trip here I'm sorry to say.  It could be a wonderful campground, but it's out of control.

Not bad

Decent amount of space between sites. Some of the sites (ours) were at a pretty big slope so we couldn't drive right up onto it but had to park on the road. Bathrooms were decent. There was a grill and fire ring, but no grate on the fire ring. I prefer to cook on the fire than have to bring/buy coal.

Okay sites, could be better?

We stayed at the Big Brook Loop which offers full hookups. These sites do not offer anything in the way of privacy but do offer lots of shade and gravel sites. Access to hiking trails is easy as is the cute, quaint town of Helen. We were staying July 4th week so it was, of course, busier, as it normally would be during the summer peak months. Comfort station is mediocre. There is supposed to be laundry at this loop but there are no washer or dryer in the laundry room. (I didn’t check the other areas that are stated as such on the campground map)

Amazing lake views

Red Top Mountain is a nice place, situated right on the lake, with lots of hiking trails, there’s plenty to do, and the scenery is beautiful. The campground is gated, so if you will be arriving late, you’ll need to call and get a code. Also, they require a two night minimum on the weekends when you book online, however if a site is only open for one night, you can call the park directly and they will book it for you.

The campground is mountainous and wooded, and the sites are very spacious. Many of the sites have lake views, and several are lake front, some you can even drop in a kayak. The campground has lots of large rocks throughout, just like the terrain of the area. We stayed on site #56, and had a great view of the lake. The tent pad in that one was huge, so we had way more space than we even needed.

My only complaint was the bathhouse was in desperate need of a major renovation. Cracked tiles, broken door handles, rotting wood on the stall doors, etc.

Lakeside Camping

We stayed at this campground on the lake while coaching a tournament in Atlanta. The spaces were spread out with plenty of shade and canopy cover. The bathrooms were clean and fairly up to date. I arrived late after coaching a game so had to park and walk into our pop up camper which was pretty annoying. I would love to see them add a gate with a code for late entry/arrival. And to be completely honest the gentleman working the front gate was an absolute prick to my wife when she was pulling the pop up in on her own. It’s unfortunate a campground can be so nice but hire people who are arrogant, egotistical, unsociable and frankly disrespectful. I still give this campground a 4 star rating in hopes they will maybe do some PR training or hire some people who actually help their guests enjoy their stay!

Awesome Park and Campground but a bit crowded

This is an amazing State Park with plenty to do and much to explore. The campground provides many beautiful views and offers a ton of sights. Upon arrival the front gate/check in area was a bit congested but staff was friendly. The bathrooms were sufficient and clean. My biggest complaint about our particular site was the fact I felt like we were right on top of our neighbors. This campground is a bit too condensed for my liking. When I go camping I don’t want to be able to hear my neighbors every word. It was also a bit difficult maneuvering in and out of the sites as every site seems to be right on top of the next. Loved the park and the views, did not love the lack of privacy in the campground.

Great view of the lake!

Site 74 is easy to back in and has plenty of shade in the evening. Great views.

Plenty of Waterfront View Options

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Red Top Mountain State Park. The campground itself is spread out with large sites. There are plenty of options for waterfront sites and most all sites are shaded with canopy cover. Our site specifically that we chose 56, was perfect for our roof top tent. We parked on a flat pad below a small staircase up to a tent pad surrounded by large boulders and equipped with a picnic table and fire ring. Firewood laying around was abundant. My only complaint about this campground were the comfort station showers. If you don’t need or desire to shower I would have zero hesitation sending anyone to this campground. However if you desire or need to shower as my wife and I do, be warned they are disgusting. They are probably the worst I have experienced anywhere as far as cleanliness. They serve their purpose as far as sufficient water pressure and hot water but outside of that, they are far from pleasant.

Ranger Review of Primus Stove at Nacoochee Adventures

Campground Review: Nacoochee Adventures is located just before Helen at the beginning of the Nacoochee Valley. They offer small primitive camping in vardo type wagons and tree houses as well as zip lining. We went as a family of 4 and half of us did the moonshine canopy tour while the other half did the quick zip, a half mile zip down the mountain. My son did both lines and preferred the quick zip. The canopy tour takes you back into the woods to view and old reclaimed moonshine still and gives you a great view of the wild ferns on the forest floor. The guides are all very friendly, great with kids, and generally positive people. They also offer smaller zip lines for kids, parties, and a giant swing. You can buy local beer and wine after your tour on site.

We stayed in the creek tree house and to our surprise, they gave us an off road golf cart with our treehouse to transport our stuff up the mountain to our site. If you ask, they will give you directions on how to drive your cart through the trails to get to the Nacoochee Tavern for pizza and more local beer and wine as well as some great shopping.

We went in June and it was a typical hot Georgia day so we opted to wait until late in the afternoon to head to our campsite and were pleasantly surprised at how much we could do right there from the check in area. We walked across the road and visited the Hardman Farm, a DNR run site with the old Hardman home and buildings across from the famed Indian mound. From there you can either walk or bike the Helen to Hardman Trail to Helen and skip the ridiculous tourist traffic. From there you can walk or bike a good portion of the city of Helen, depending on how deep into tourist land you want to go.

The treehouse is nice and shaded with a fire ring, a hammock, and a path to a small creek. There is an outhouse nearby but they leave a special door open at the main house for you to access bathrooms and showers via the golf cart 24/7. Our tree house had a full bed in the loft and a king bed in the main area and lots of citronella candles outside to ward off the bugs but as soon as it got dark, the mountain air cooled everything off and we could forget the heat while we slept.

In addition to the Hardman Farm, the Sautee Nacoochee Center is nearby as well as the old Sautee Store, just past the Indian mound. By bike, you can access these locations and loop back to Helen on Bean Creek Road which passes a lovely roadside waterfall. If you want to check out Helen from the point of view of how things were before tourists and motorcycles this is he perfect jumping off point, literally. Zip the treetops and then hop on your bike!

Product Review: As a Dyrt ranger, I get to review cool products and on this trip I tried out the Primus Primetek stove set 1.3 L. When I first got this stove I worried it would be "too much stove" for basic backpacking. But I have found that with a family it works perfectly to heat up water fast and enough of it to make coffee and pour into Dehydrated food bags for everyone. I have yet to attempt real cooking on it like pancakes or sautéing but the hear output is very efficient and even and clean, which makes me think it will be fine. The metal hose that connects to the gas sort of winds around the bottom and there is a hook to hold it. It I have had a little trouble repacking it in the bag to sit flat. This is a minor OCD observation. Also, the bag it comes in does not include room for the fuel so when you are packing your stuff you always want to remember your fuel. I have not forgotten fuel yet but can understand how that might happen. Overall, it is a great stove for us and our needs, a little pricey but worth it.

Nice place in Erie County

I loved where they placed us, in front of a pond. They had electrical and water hook ups, a dump station not far from where we were. They have lots to do but it was raining all weekend. We would come back for sure. Friendly staff. Great store. We were able to relax and enjoy the ‘home away from home’ in our truck camper. :)

Well maintained w/beautiful view

Very nice campground, clean and well maintained. We love coming here for the weekend! Variety of sites from very shady to full sun, level sites, great amenities!

A North Georgia Classic

This popular state park is the jumping off point for hikers headed to Maine on the Appalachian Trail as well as those hiking to Len Foote Hike Inn. The vistas at the lodge are worth the trip inside and there are great viewing decks where you can eat your own picnic or packed lunch. The Maple Restaurant is also inside. There are cottages and campgrounds. The campground sites are nice and roomy for RVs and the loops contain a covered pavilion and horseshoe pit. This is a hiker's state park with lots of trails from moderate to strenuous. The Falls are the real centerpiece with a set of stairs leading to the top which is incorporated into the AT approach trail. There is a also a small reflection pond where people can fish. I went in the middle of the week in the summer and it was not crowded but it is clearly a place that can get crowded due to its popularity. It's an easy car camp trip that gets you high enough in elevation to cool off a little in the summer but is not too far of a drive from Atlanta.

Beautiful Lake

We camped in the campground and accessed the lake through a trail. The beach was beautiful, but rocky so bring water shoes if you like. The rentals for kayaks and stand-up paddle boards is rather expensive. We left ours at home due to space. SUP and kayaks were $35. For two of us it wasn’t worth the price. Sunsets are picturesque. No alcohol allowed and the gates close at 8pm in the parking area. The boat ramp is convenient and a good spot to watch the sunset, but there is no parking in that area. Bathrooms were clean and well kept.

Quiet Retreat

Morganton campground is an ultra quiet campground. Sites are spaced apart and vary in size and beauty. We stayed in site 1 which was next to the host, newer bathroom, and the trail that led to the recreation area. Some sites are wooded while others are on the lake and have private access. The host will deliver wood and ice to your site as well. When you arrive, if you have reservations, you head straight to your site and the host will come to you for check-in. If you are walk-up you simply find an unreserved site, claim it, then go check-in with the host. The atmosphere is super relaxed and the hosts are very pleasant. The wildlife is abundant with various birds and chipmunks as well. There is no alcohol allowed in any area of the campgrounds. I highly recommend this campground and we will be back to enjoy it in the future!

So peaceful

My daughter and I went camping here for 2 nights right on the beach it was like having the beach all to ourselves. We went on a weekday so the people at the front actually let us switch sites so we could get the one we wanted since we booked over the phone before looking. That spot wasn't available this weekend but all the sites are by the water just cant go jump in right there and you can drive to the beach in the campground in seconds or walk.

Unexpected

We had an emergency work issue while traveling and had to get somewhere to get online.  The issue had been going in for a while and we had been stopped a truck stop for 3 hours. I started looking to see if there was an RV park nearby and found Victoria Bryant State Park just 10 miles away.  We called and there were vacancies.  We GPS’d our way over, and I. The middle of farmland was the entrance to the park. We pulled in and set up in about 5 minutes,  got online and proceeded to work most of the night.  

In the morning we discovered how lovely our surroundings were.  Our site was on a ridge and was wooded all around.  We were across from a comfort station, a really nice pavilion and play area.  Lots of families were coming in for the weekend.  There is hiking and fishing in a small lake. Places to ride bikes.  Day campers are welcome.  The park was clean and the personnel was friendly and helpful.  We had to leave that morning, but are looking forward to going back and discovering more about it.  What a happy surprise Victoria Bryant State Park was.

Great campground with awesome sites

We live in winder where Yargo is located and we come here all the time! We camp in a pop up and love coming to Yargo bc most of the sites are shaded. Beautiful park especially the camping area. Couple complaints- the water faucets in bath house are motion sensor and they are hit or miss if they’ll work. Went to the marina to rent a Jon boat bc we saw a ad for them on Facebook. Upon arriving we were told they didnt have any for rent, and haven’t for 2 seasons, bc they have holes in them. LOVE the new visitors center.

North Georgia Best Kept Secret

Set in a lush green Forrest, Unicoi State Park just outside of Helen, GA, has something for everyone.

  • Convention Facility

  • Destination Wedding facilities

  • Cabins

  • RV sites

  • Tent sites

  • Squirrels Nest camp site (soooo cool)

  • Hiking trails

  • Beautiful lake, with fishing piers and also a swimming beach.

  • Entertainment, free concerts

  • Zip lines

The people are so friendly and the and the amenities are many.  The RV park and facilities are well kept and clean.  You will love the hilly terrain of the park.  The tree-covered sites have picnic tables and fire rings . We have been multiple times and looking forward to going back. Many photograph worthy sites.

Beautiful State Park

Beautiful State Park with roomy shaded sites, many of which are creekside. A large lake for fishing and swimming is at the front of the park and it offers canoe and paddle boat rentals. Lots to do on-site such as walking trails, hiking and fishing, playgrounds and a Conservation Corps museum. Trahlyta Falls is an easy walking path, and the park also offers nice cabin rentals. There are no sewer hook-up, but it does have an easy access dump station.

Great for seniors

Special Federal lakefront RV Park. Reasonable fees too

Glamping in an award winning green facility 5 miles off the grid

I have always wanted to visit this place and it did not disappoint. The 5 mile hike starts inside the Amicalola Falls State Park and for a bit shares the trail with AT approach trail to Springer Mountain. The entire Hike to the inn is 5 miles and takes around 3-4 hours. the trail is not strenuous but for one section towards the end and offers vistas to the south but is mostly shaded. I hiked in June the day after a drenching rain and enjoyed the cool vapors of galax in the air with early blooming Mountain Laurel. The temperature at the inn is a god 10-15 degrees cooler than Amicalola, which is welcome in the summer heat. 

If you are planning to backpack up to this spot, you should know that you will need very little once you get there. They have hot showers with soap, linens for the shower and bedding, snacks and drinks on hand, a hot dinner and breakfast. They even will pack a lunch for you the next day for your hike out (for an additional fee). There are signs saying that it is a cel phone free space but they seem to not enforce this as people were taking pictures. There is also a solar powered charging station for your devices. The signs really just encourage people to unplug and use technology sparingly.

The facility consists of 4 buildings- the bunkhouse (where you check in and has a nice lobby), the bathhouse, the dining hall, and the sunrise room. The facility is 70% run on solar power. At 5 PM, a staff member offers a tour of the facility and describes the numerous sustainable practices that the inn uses. At 6 PM is dinner, they ring a bell so you don't have to watch the clock. Then at 7 pm there is a staff led educational program in the dining hall. 

There is a lovely spot to watch the sunrise and the staff actually walks the area outside the rooms just before sunrise with a soft drum that alerts visitors of the sunrise, but I did not find it too jarring for those who wish to keep sleeping. There was however, a slight "hum" to the building that went on all night that appeared to be the evaporation fans for the composting toilets. It was not too bad but might impact light sleepers.

The price is high for a family of four when you think camping or even glamping. The inn offers group programs for students at special rates and also has half price sales in mid summer but a family coming for a night at regular price is looking at around $600. I prefer this as a solo getaway for that reason but it is worth a splurge with your family if you can catch the half off rate.

Beauty and Seclusion at Toccoa River Cove

"Is there water to play in?" 

This is a question my kids ask about almost every campground we go to. Before this trip I told them, "yes!" But once we got to the Toccoa River Cove, all of us realized that "yes" really meant, "this is a phenomenal wonderland we will never want to leave." 

I want to say this is a "goldilocks" campground, but only because it has something for everyone, not because it falls into an average category. With 12 acres of woodland and the freedom to pitch a tent anywhere (provided you honor LNT principals about where to set up camp!), you can camp right next to the car, set up a camping hammock, or explore the forest and find a secluded area in the trees for a backpacking tent. There is a spring you can drink straight out of, and streams criss-crossing the entire area if you want the rugged feeling of purifying your own water. There's a large shelter stocked with a table, chairs, lanterns, and a two-burner camp stove for the glamping crowd, with plenty of floor space to throw down a sleeping bag for thru-hikers nostalgic for AT shelters. The campsite also has a huge fire ring (and a shelter with lots of cut wood), a picnic table, a bench, lots of bridges over the water, a few established trails, a privy that is obviously cleaned regularly, and most importantly, a total immersion in nature as only one group can book this site at a time. 

Things to note for planning:

-The driveway down to the shelter is very steep, and does not allow much space to turn around. RVs or larger trucks will not fit, and per the owner only one vehicle may park at the base of the driveway at a time--all others should park just past the gate once you first turn onto the driveway 

-Water is available from two natural springs, but there is no filtered or piped water

-There is no electricity at all at this site

-The closest town is Copperhill/McCaysville on the TN/GA border. You can get provisions here, or use the campsite as a basecamp to explore the breweries and restaurants the town has to offer.

-There is a community area a short drive from the campsite that offers swimming and fishing; access is included in your reservation

I cannot see any tent campers this site would not be perfect for. While there are neighboring houses so loud parties are not permitted, this site allows up to 10 guests, with plenty of room to spare if you are looking to get out with friends. Single campers or couples will appreciate the privacy, and families will find the amenities that make camping with kids easier, accompanied with the space to allow kids freedom to explore.

I feel like I am always on a quest to find a campsite that blends the ability to carry gear for every possible contingency, with the beauty and privacy of the backcountry. After staying here, I can say that quest is over. This is it.

Super nice quiet family campground

We really enjoyed our stay at Jenny’s family campground