Andy S.
Savannah, GA
Joined May 2019
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.