By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
State parks entice visitors outdoors with array of activities
Paddling trip set for Saturday at Don Carter State Park
Drew, left, and Michael Smith come ashore at Don Carter State Park after a morning of kayaking in July 2014. The brothers were spending a few days at the park camping and paddling the lake. The park is offering a paddling trip from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in Gainesville.

As the summer draws near and the weather continues to warm, Georgia State Parks is planning to lure children and adults alike to the great outdoors and all of its offerings.

To kick off such an initiative, the state park system is hosting various activities on Saturday, May 16, which is National Kids to Parks Day.

Parks and historic sites have planned dozens of family-friendly activities to encourage children to explore public lands. More than 500,000 people are estimated to attend events across the country in what is called America’s national “day of play.”

In Georgia, the parks are offering fishing rodeos, guided hikes, nature crafts, scavenger hunts, archery, geocaching and numerous other programs for three Saturdays: May 16, 23 and 30. Many events are free and parking is $5.

Families may stay overnight in the campgrounds, cabins, lodge rooms and yurts — turning their outing into a mini eco-vacation.

Events in Northeast Georgia include:

  • Lake Lanier Paddling Trip, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 16, at Don Carter State Park, Gainesville.

Paddle up a beautiful section of Lake Lanier and see the undeveloped parts of the park best viewed from the water. Look out for wildlife which can often be spotted on the tranquil portion of the lake.

Space is limited, so call the park for reservations at 678-450-7726. Cost is $10-$15 admission and includes use of tandem canoe. $5 parking.

  • Hike and Bike, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. May 16, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls.

A 1.5-mile hike and 3-mile group bike ride will occur on the Shortline Trail. The hike starts at 11 a.m. at the Interpretive Center. The bike ride will meet at the Old Tallulah Jail at 1 p.m.

Visitors may do one or both. All bicycle riders must have a helmet.

This is for children ages 6 and older. Parking is $5.

Call 706-754-7981 for information.

  • Nature Hike, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 16, at Fort Yargo State Park, Winder.

A park ranger will take visitors on a guided tour of the Birdberry Nature Trail. See the trees, birds and other wildlife that call Fort Yargo home on the leisurely walk.

Admission is $5 and parking $5.

Call 770-867-3489.

  • Holiday Gorge Floor Hike, 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. May 23, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls.

Jump from rock to rock, climb boulders and swim in Bridal Veil Falls. Visitors will also trek 531 stairs and hike 3.5 miles to get that adrenaline pumping.

No pets allowed; and wear appropriate footwear. Make sure to bring food and water.

Children must be 10 years and older.

Register in advance. Cost is $10 for admission and $5 for parking.

Call 706-754-7981.

  • Full Moon Paddle, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. May 30, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls.

Wind down and enjoy a relaxing paddle around Tallulah Lake as the full moon reflects off the water. This ranger-led event is an exciting event way to get out in the evenings and enjoy nature.

Space is limited, so register in advance.

Admission is $15 and parking is $5.

Call 706-754-7981.

A map of all 64 state parks and historic sites can be found at


Regional events