Mo F.
Tuscaloosa, AL
Joined August 2016
Peaceful spot on the lake

It is really beautiful here. The lake was full of lily pads in bloom when we arrived mid-morning. We looked at every single site upon arriving and narrowed it down to a few great ones, but ultimately chose based on the "neighborhood." While there were only 5-6 other occupied sites, the camp host said it was completely full last weekend. Since we had our choice, we splurged $18 for a full hookup RV site just because we liked it best. There are no primitive sites open at this time (the Eastern Side Campground is closed) but about half with just water. There are multiple bath-houses and they're on the clean side of standard. There are also several trash receptacles in the campground, so you don't have to trek to a dumpster. There are lots of trees for hammocks, but I would say that the sites aren't very private if it were to be crowded. The host also let us know we could scavenge any fire pits or pick anything brown off the ground for a fire.

Payne Lake is a pretty popular destination for locals, but it wasn't packed. The lake has a sandy beach and a roped-off swimming area. It's full of lily pads and fed through a marsh so it feels really clean.

There's a nature trail past the campground. It's a trek uphill if you walk, but you can drive/bike to the the trailhead as well. The trail itself is not long, but it's pretty overgrown. A lot of it is planked, some rotten. Y'all. It's kinda creepy, definitely swampy. We turned around about a third of the way around the loop when the trail became hard to find. I would not consider this for a hiking-centered trip.

We got an afternoon rain shower and, afterward the bugs were gnarly. Eaten alive. Be prepared for biting things, for sure, not just mosquitos. Didn't get any ticks. Also, there are supposedly alligators here but we didn't see any. The bird watching here is probably great, I heard lots of less common bird calls. Several people were fishing from boats but no motors are allowed on the water, which is great.

All in all, this was a great site and we'll likely come back for a day trip from Tuscaloosa. It's clean and well pretty well maintained. It's close to home for us but feels very remote. Great for just getting out of town.

Starry Group Site

This was a great group site for a group of 8 not-too-rowdy adults. Actually, it'd be ok for rowdier campers too. We had neighbors down the road the first night and only a large group of boyscouts out of eye/earshot the second night. There is no water or electricity at the group sites, but there are some porta-lets and water about halfway to the bath house central to the RV sites.

The site is surrounded by trees and connects to the nature trail which goes down to the Hiwasee, so there can be some mild foot traffic nearby. It's simple, with a firepit and maybe picnic tables. It's nice to be here rather than the crowded, active, noisey regular camping area. It's not super secluded, but it can feel like it at times.

At night, the lightning bugs and stars are perfect. It is really a great view. We walked down to the next site (G-8) to get a better view (away from our own lights and fire) and it was really fantastic. The river is no joke, it's fast and cold, but it's only a few minutes down the trail to wade in.

A white park truck rolls through every few hours to check on things.

Camping in the City Limits

We pulled in with no plans and drove through the whole campground. There are 60 RV spots, pull thru and not, some parking lot style and some a along a creek. There are no trees or bushes between spots, but the whole campground is situated with forest and creek on one side and the Tuscumbia River on the other. We weren't positive what the deal was so we checked in with the host and paid $14 for one night.

Primitive tent spots are right on the river. There are fire pits, trees, and picnic tables sporadically placed. We pitched our tent facing the bluffs along the river and our hammock between two trees. It wasn't crowded and it was pretty quiet (no generators, no music, very family friendly and chill). The grass was cut, and though there were small ant piles everywhere, they really weren't in the way or aggressive. The bath-house is…not awesome. It's exactly what you'd expect for an older, gov-run park, with some spiders and leaky toilets, but toilets and showers are there.

It is a three minute drive into downtown Florence. Most of that is through the park, which is home to a good-sized marina, disc golf course, and (defunct?) driving range. It's super convenient, cheap, and kept up well enough. The view of the water and bluffs is A++, and it's fun to watch the speed boats and river cruises.

Windblown in the Wetlands

This is a good sized park with a good bit to do. There are meandering walking trails through the woods. There's the beach. There's the lighthouse, which is very blustery uptop, and quite a lot of stairs to get there. There are some historical museum type things around the lighthouse. Giftshop and hotdogs on the beach. The volunteers were great here--nice, helpful, funny.

Camping, especially tent camping, is just inland of the dunes. There's no water or power at tent sites. There were a million RVs and it was pretty loud with generators even though we were somewhat separated. It was also Spring Break season, so that lends to crowds.

There were lot of solo campers here, I guess due to being on the East Coast and perhaps a good road trip stop over for a night's stay. However, we actually didn't get to stay the night day two! It was so windy (no rain or storm) that there was no way we could sleep there. Taking down our tent and putting everything away while being blown sideways was exhausting. Only one tent camper remained when we left, and they were actually working with a hammock-station wagon combo. Off we went to a hotel and dinner in Beaufort, which is a nice, sleepy, old town on the water.

White sands on the Ochlockonee River

This is a pretty nice campground. It is flat and sandy, with lots of palms and shrubbery dividing most spaces. We tent camped, but there were hammock posts at our site, as well as the usual fire ring and picnic table, and a water spigot. Our site was very roomy. There are tons of sand squirrels here--as soon as we got in, we took to the bath house (nice); when we came back our neighbors had weighted down our food totes as those (really cute, white) squirrels (read: jerks) had already tried to get into our food. I appreciated that the tent camping sites were clumped together so there wasn't an RV right on top of us.

The campground is right next to the river, which is part of the Ochlockonee River Paddling Trail (the lower part, map 5 I think). There is a very flat walking/biking trail with historical facts posted periodically, which goes around the small park, a swimming area in the river, a playground. Nearby there is another walking trail, for birding. There are no real strenuous activities here, I would say. There is a lot of neat flora and fauna (white deer!). There is also less neat fauna--horse flies. They bite and it hurts like heck. Cover up, with clothing or spray. No sitings of those big reptiles with teeth and dino tails.

Sopchoppy is the nearest town. There isn't a lot to do here, it's pretty remote. There is at least one fish shack. Head into Apalachicola for oysters, craft beer, beaches, etc.

Waterfront seclusion

We camped in one of the tent only walk-in sites located on a peninsula jutting into the lake. We had a ton of stuff, not realizing it was an uphill and pretty long trek, but it was totally worth it. We had the whole place to ourselves, no neighbors, in late March. The sun setting over the water was beautiful, it was quiet even as a few motor boats came in for the night. There is a tiny beach on the tip of the peninsula, picnic tables, and an outhouse. It was my favorite spot of everywhere we stayed on an Alabama-Georgia-South Carolina roadtrip including AirBnB and bed and breakfast.