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George L. Smith II State Park in Georgia

Trip Overview

I did a paddling day trip at George L. Smith State Park in eastern Georgia in March 2016. It's a wonderful place to paddle, and my personal favorite spot for an easy day trip of anywhere that I've been.

It's an easy day of flatwater paddling, with very little in the way of dangers or concerns. Great for beginners, but because it's a beautiful, peaceful spot, it's great for longtime paddlers as well. The park itself makes for a nice 2 day trip, with one day being devoted to a few short and easy hiking trails.

There are 2 put-ins/take outs, both of which are easy to launch from. There are officially three different water trails- red, yellow, and blue- but it's virtually impossible to get lost even if you don't stick to the trails. I've been to the park 3 times, and it's fun to just paddle around aimlessly. The first time I visited, I stuck strictly to the trail, but in the 2 times since, I just went wherever. It SEEMS like you can get lost easily, however. Of the three trails, the blue one is the only one where there might not be sufficient water for paddling. In the three times I've been, one time I was not able to paddle the blue trail.

The lake is long and narrow, and is almost entirely full of tall cypress trees and cypress knees. Each time I went, there were a couple of fishermen within 200 yards of the put-in, but I had the entire rest of the lake to myself. It is a lightly used park not near any large population centers. It's about 2 hours east of Atlanta, and at least an hour from Augusta or Savannah.

There are supposedly alligators in the lake, although I haven't seen one in my 3 times paddling there. Compare that to the Okefenokee Swamp, where you'll see a double-digit number of alligators in just a few hours.

The campground is nice and I haven't needed advance reservations in any of the 3 times being there, although it's always been weekdays in either November or March.

I highly recommend going to George L. Smith State Park for an easy day paddle. It's a long way from anywhere, so to justify going there for just a day paddle, you may want to combine it with a trip to Okefenokee if you're coming from more than several hours away. For me, it's worth the 4-hour each-way drive for only about 5-6 hours of paddling.

Accommodations:

There is a campground that combines tent sites and rv sites.

Fees:

Georgia State Parks have recently increased the prices. It's $5 per day for a parking pass, and $20 per night to camp in primitive tent sites.

Resources:

There is a park-issued water and hiking trail map that is useful.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip

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