Richard B. Russell Jr. was a popular guy – not only did he serve as governor of Georgia from 1931-33, but he was a US Senator for almost 40 years. After his death he had all sorts of buildings, a road, a lake, a dam, an airport, a submarine, and yes, a state park named after him. That’s quite a legacy!
This state park’s main attraction is its 18-hole championship golf course, but you can guess that wasn’t what Trey and I were particularly interested in. We spent all of our time on a playground near the banks of the lake and had a picnic lunch on the shore.
The park boasts that it has one of the oldest steel pin bridges in the area but when we went to see it, the trail leading to it was closed. Just as well I guess since Trey was already pretty exhausted from climbing on the playground and running around on the beach.
We tried visiting Hart State Park months ago, but ended up having to stay in a motel and skip it due to terrible weather. This time we arrived just in time – as I spoke to the ranger I found out it was the last day the park would be a State Park. He was closing the office, the cottages were no longer being rented out, the campground would be self-registration & first-come-first-serve, and the park was being downgraded to a “State Outdoor Recreation Area”. All this is due to the severe budget cuts the state of Georgia has been making.
Trey and I hiked down a nature trail to Lake Hartwell and then followed the shoreline a bit. It was a blistering hot day and Trey really wanted to swim, so I stripped him down to his undies and let him splash around. The red clay under the water was a neat contrast to the bright blue skies above.
Most of the last stretch of state parks we had to visit were all along the Georgia-South Carolina state line. Tugaloo is a park on a peninsula that stretches out into Hartwell Lake. Before Hartwell Dam was built, the river that flowed through that area was called by its Indian name “Tugaloo”.
Trey and I camped at Tugaloo in one of the “primitive” campsites. I still don’t understand why our secluded campsite right on the lake had running water, an outhouse, and only cost $12. Had we camped at a normal campsite we would have been packed into area with dozens of other campers and paid $22. The only extra amenity would have been electricity.
Trey really enjoyed roasting marshmallows before going to bed and in the morning we got up and headed down to the lake. We walked a short nature trails before hopping in the car and headed south to Hart State Park.
In 12 months, Trey and I visited every one of Georgia’s 63 incredible state parks and historic sites! We finished up at Mistletoe State Park near Augusta on July 4th.
We purchased a new annual pass and this time got a family membership. The family membership includes two tickets for a train on the SAM Shortline – a treat Trey will really enjoy.
I’m really proud of Trey for being such a fun companion and I’m glad Heidi got to join us on a lot of the excursions. When Trey grows up he is going to have a great photo album to remind him of the adventures we had.
I’m a bit behind on posting photos from our park visits, so over the next week I’ll be putting up the last six.
This park located northeast of Athens, GA has a little bit of something for everyone: 10 miles of hiking trails, camp sites, stocked fish ponds, a swimming pool, and a golf course. It is a bit of a drive from Macon so when we arrived Trey was fast asleep. I woke him up and we slowly (very slowly) walked along the creek to the falls and then up to a playground. By the time we got to the playground he was wide awake and ready to burn some energy.
I was reminded how the littlest things can leave the biggest impression on kids. With all the amenities this park has to offer, Trey was most impressed by a portion of the road where the creek flows over it. It blew his mind that we got to drive the car through the creek. Ah, the simple pleasures of life!