Category Archives: GA State Parks

High Falls State Park Celebration

William and Trey get their photo taken with Becky Kelley, director of Georgia's State Parks, and Tom Mills with his the "family on the go"To celebrate our having visited all of Georgia’s State Parks & Historic sites within a year, we had a cookout at High Falls State Park and invited all our Georgia friends. Heidi friends from work came, my camera club friends attended, our buddies from church showed up, and even some old friends from our college years at Carson-Newman College were there!

The biggest surprise was Becky Kelley, director of Georgia’s State Parks, showed up with her husband and a family that visited 30 parks in 30 days last year. She presented me with some State Park swag and made me an official volunteer.

Rachel & Allister Lowery of Decatur, Heidi and Trey Haun of Macon, and Claire & Abby Slade of Atlanta at High Falls State Park after the Hauns' celebration cookout. William Haun and his 2 year-old son Trey visited all 63 of Georgia's State Parks and Historic Sites from July 2008 to July 2009.It was a fun time of hanging out with friends and enjoying the park’s facilities. Some folks explored the falls to take photos, the kids all enjoyed the playground, and a few others went hiking down along the water. At the end of the day we were all exhausted and had way too much leftover food to take home.

State Park Panoramas

During our state park tour I took lots of panoramic photos of the sites and scenery. Each panoramic image is made up of anywhere from 5 to 60+ individual photos that are “stitched” together using imaging software. The end result is a huge, high resolution photo that has a lot of detail.

For kicks you can do a sort of “Where’s Waldo Trey” and look for his little head in some of the giant images.

ga-panos-link
Click the image above to launch a new browser window with an interactive image viewer that will let you pan across the photos by moving your mouse left & right.

Mistletoe State Park (the last one!)

Mistletoe State Park's beach on Clarks Hill LakeThis is it! The last of the 63 Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites we visited since we moved to Georgia last year. The first thing we did at Mistletoe State Park was renew our annual pass. In fact, we went one better and got a family membership with the Friends of Georgia State Parks. A membership includes 2 annual passes to parks, free admission to all historic sites for up to 6 people, 2 free nights of camping, and 2 tickets on the SAM Shortline Railway (something I’m really looking forward to taking Trey on).

The Hauns in Clarks Hill Lake at Mistletoe State ParkMistletoe is located on a peninsula extending into the massive Clarks Hill Lake and has a great beach area that Trey really enjoyed. The park was packed since it was the 4th of July and one nice lady let Trey borrow a float.

Trey enjoys the float another park visitor let him borrowAfter swimming for a while we headed over to a nature trail that follows a small canyon created by wash-off from poor farming practices in the early 1900s (like Providence Canyon). After the hike we treated our sweaty boy to a bucket of ice cream from the visitor center. He deserved it after trekking all over our great state!

Elijah Clark State Park

The log cabin museum at Elijah Clark State ParkI’m assuming that most folks, like me, have never heard of Elijah Clark. He was a Georgian war hero in our nation’s Revolutionary War for independence. In fact, the character played by Mel Gibson in the film The Patriot, was loosely based on Elijah Clark (so, so sorry Elijah).

The Georgia State Park named after him sits on the 2nd largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi – Lake Clarks Hill, which is known as Lake Strom Thurmond every where but Georgia. Apparently in 1987, a South Carolina representative had a bill passed in Congress to rename Lake Clarks Hill after their long-serving Senator Thurmond. Georgians were quite upset (and rightfully so) but failed to pass a bill renaming back to Clarks Hill at the federal level. Instead, in 1989, the State of Georgia legislature named the dam and reservoir Clarks Hill again but their authority only extends to all Georgia state maps.

Trey goes "kaboom" with his revolutionary frontiersman hat at Elijah Clark State ParkAt the park, they have a great recreated log cabin museum of his frontier home from the 1780s. We visited on the 4th of July and there was a volunteer re-enactor present. She gave us a tour of the cabin and gave Trey a little wooden gun to play with. I must say, that thanks to Georgia’s State Parks my son now has gun fever. “Kaboom! Kaboom!” was all we heard for the rest of the trip.

A spider in the woods at Elijah Clark State ParkAfter touring the cabins, we hiked a 3/4 mile nature trail through the woods and saw some incredible spider webs (of course Trey “kaboomed” them all). At the end of the hike, just before getting back in the car I found a very impressive rhino beetle. Normally, Trey loves holding bugs but this critter’s horns and size were a bit too much and he opted to let Daddy do all the bug handling.

Bobby Brown State Park

A pier reached out into Clarks Hill Lake at Bobby Brown State ParkBobby Brown State Park is located on Clarks Hill Lake (also known as Lake Strom Thurman, but more on that in my next park post) and is a popular spot for camping and fishing. We hiked a nature trail that went across a cool swinging bridge and around a cove. On the walk we saw a huge water moccasin but I didn’t have my zoom lens to get a cool shot (shame on me!).

A flower in a cove below the swinging bridgeAfter hiking we cooled off in the lake and Trey had  a great time watching other families bring their boats & jet skis in and out of the water at the boat ramp (I really think he wanted to ride on one of those jet skis).

I spent a ridiculous amount of time photographing a spider that had a web on a reed in the water 20 feet from shore (how did he get out there?!). I’m very thankful for a patient and understanding wife who lets me obsess over things like that. A spider I found on a reed in the water, far from the shoreI think it was worth it because I got a cool set of images from it.

This park has been another victim of our current economic crisis. Like Hart State Park, it was recently changed to a State Outdoor Recreation Area. I hope that in a couple years, the park service is able to re-open these parks.

Watson Mill Bridge State Park

Trey along the banks of the South Fork River at Watson Mill Bridge State ParkThis park was a great surprise – we hadn’t planned on visiting it on the day we did. We were driving back home from Richard B. Russell State Park and I suddenly saw a sign that said Watson Mill Bridge was just a few miles away. So we turned off the highway and a short while later we were cooling off in the water of the South Fork River.

The bridge is Georgia’s longest covered bridge and was built in 1885 by the son of a freed slave. It is remarkable to see that a bridge built so long ago using wooden pins still holds up under the modern day vehicles that drive over it.

William and Trey in the water below Watson Mill BridgeThe park boasts of several miles worth of trails, but once Trey saw that we could go on the rocks and enjoy the water any thoughts of hiking were over. After walking across the bridge and exploring the river’s banks for a while, I had to give in and let Trey swim. We didn’t have our river shoes so we had to be extra careful on the slippery rocks. I took Trey up to the waterfall under the bridge but he was not a fan of the spray. Don’t know what his issue is with that – for the same reason we can never give him showers, only baths.

Click the image below to open a panoramic image in a new window:
Panorama of visitors swimming in the South Fork River at Watson Mill Bridge State Park