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5 Notes on Visiting Don Carter State Park

5 Notes on Visiting Don Carter State Park 1

Don Carter State Park is a relatively new State Park along the north side of Lake Lanier near Gainesville, Georgia. It’s so close to Atlanta that it is one of our “go-to” Parks, so I’ve stayed in the cabin, campsites, and done day hiking.

The Park Is Still New

The Park opened in 2013. That may be 10 years ago, but the Park still feels “new” – especially compared to 100+ year old Parks built by the CCC like Vogel, Hard Labor Creek, and FD Roosevelt State Parks.

On the upside, that means that the equipment and buildings are all new and nice. The cabins are built from scratch. The RV camping area has all modern hookups. And the trails are all freshly planned and cut.

On the downside, the land hasn’t quite “settled” from all the construction. You can still see where the bulldozers went. The trees are all still quite young. It doesn’t feel like a Park that has settled into its landscape.

The Beach!

5 Notes on Visiting Don Carter State Park 2

There are not many State Parks that have lake beaches, but Don Carter is! It has a wide sand beach that is set back from all the boat traffic on Lake Lanier. It’s slowly sloping and great for kids. There are large bathrooms and pavilions nearby. The only negative are the issues with geese. And unfortunately, people keep feeding them, so they keep coming back (and pooping up areas of the beach).

Cabins & Walk-In Sites Are Nicely Situated

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The tent area is along a paved hiking trail with a variety of walk-in sites. They aren’t the most level or nicest walk-in sites, but they are each by themselves with lots of privacy and land to spread out. They are also nowhere near the big rig RVs or huge trailers.

The cabins are on the opposite side of the Park. They are all new and built as “standard late 2010s Georgia State Park cabins” – all spacious, lovely, well-built with large porches, fire areas, kitchens, and bedrooms.

Don Carter Is a Boating Park

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There is a massive boat ramp parking lot – for better and worse. It’s quite an eye sore without a boat, but also an incredible amenity to get out on the lake quickly from the State Park.

Solid Selection of Trails

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The trails all lean towards beginner and highly accessible. It’s a great Park for hiking with kids. The planners did a solid job routing the trails through interesting natural communities, small views, and interesting elevation changes (always difficult in the Georgia Piedmont vs. Georgia Mountains).

They’ve also added a network of mountain biking and horse trails.

Wrap Up

Don Carter State Park is a solid recreation focused State Park. I love that it’s accessible from Atlanta, large, well-planned and really leans into amenities to make up for its lack of grand natural attractions (like Cloudland Canyon or Vogel).

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