After more than a decade of work and preparation, Don Carter State Park off Lake Lanier in North Hall is set to open Monday.
The 1,316-acre park at 5000 N. Browning Bridge Road, off Clarks Bridge Road, is Hall County’s and Lake Lanier’s first state park.
The park will offer camping, boat ramps, fishing, picnicking, playgrounds, hiking and a large swimming beach. Parking is $5 and most day-use activities are free.
Eight rental cabins are slated to open later this summer. The two-bedroom cabins are perched on wooded hillsides near the lake, with rocking-chair porches and fully equipped kitchens.
The park is still seeking to hire part-time housekeepers to clean the cabins.
“That is the biggest reason (the cabins are) not open,” said Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ State Parks & Historic Sites. “And then there is punch-list kind of stuff.”
Although the park will soon accept reservations, campsites will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis during the first few weeks of opening.
Daily rental rates include $15-$29 for campsites; cabins, $110-$160; covered picnic shelters, $45.
Leashed dogs are welcome on trails and in the campground but not in the visitor center and most cabins.
State officials are planning a grand opening ceremony for this fall.
“The date has to be set based on the mutual availability of the Carters and the governor (Nathan Deal),” said Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is planning the event with the DNR.
The park project dates to 2002, when its namesake, Gainesville real estate executive Don Carter, was stepping down from the DNR board after 29 years.
Then-DNR Commissioner Lonice Barrett announced the naming of the park at a going-away party for Carter at Lake Lanier Islands. The project was financed by a $14 million bond package, with construction costs running about $11.5 million.
In an email Monday, Carter said he appreciated the efforts of state and local officials in bringing the park to Hall County.
As part of the project, the county has worked to pave the narrow, dirt-packed section of North Browning from Browning Place to the park entrance and resurface North Browning from Browning Place to Clarks Bridge Road.
“As a lifelong lover of the outdoors, it is my hope that many generations will come and visit the park and enjoy the many recreational opportunities it will provide,” Carter said.
“It has been a humbling experience to have it named in my honor when so many others are deserving of recognition for bringing this park to fruition.”