Best Tent Camping Near Atlanta
An exceptional campground beside a trout-filled lake beneath the shadow of the Appalachian Trail. And that is only the beginning of Dockery Lake Campground. Set in a large cove on the southern shore of three-acre Dockery Lake, this campground is as aesthetically pleasing as its natural mountain surroundings of the Cedar Ridge Mountain Range. The sites are landscaped using native stones with plenty of trees and groundcover that blend in well with the upland landscape. The tent pads are bordered in concrete with gravel pebbles for drainage. Not much leveling was needed, as the slope of the campground is negligible.
The sites are arranged on either side of a one-way gravel road, beneath a pine and hardwood forest, with an understory of hemlock and mountain laurel. Five sites lie directly lakeside; the other six are only yards away but have the advantage of being high enough to overlook the lake. At the campground's end, a retaining wall encloses a small grassy area beside the lake, producing an ideal spot for fishing, sunbathing, or just relaxing.
Two combination water fountain/spigots are positioned about the campground, and a comfort station with flush toilets for either sex stands on the uphill side of the campground. The campground host resides at the campground's center, adding an element of security for everyone. The intimate lakeside environment spells vacation for any camper whose destination is Dockery Lake.
Dockery Lake is fed from the chilly headwaters of Waters Creek, tumbling off the slopes of Jacobs Knob along the Appalachian Trail. The pure water is cold enough to support a healthy population of trout, so it comes as no surprise that fishing is a popular pastime at Dockery Lake. The lake is stocked on a regular basis by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Anglers can be found here using a rod and reel lakeside or in a canoe or other small craft. No motors are allowed, however. The 0.6-mile Lakeshore Trail snakes around the lake. Short side trails lead to platforms at the water's edge, providing good fishing or lake-viewing spots. A wooden platform with handrails sits over the small dam. It's a good vantage point for lake enthusiasts to take in the entire six acres of the crystalline body of water. The trail is graveled throughout the campground.
The one-way gravel road bisecting the campground leads a short distance to the picnic parking area. It is there that the Dockery Lake Trail begins. It leads 3.4 miles up to Miller Gap and the Appalachian Trail. Look for deer and grouse feeding in the shadows. After a mile of trail treading along tributaries of Waters Creek, you'll be lower than when you started. The trail climbs for the remainder of its journey to Miller Gap, just shy of 3,000 feet.
It is 2.9 miles west on the AT to Woody Gap and GA 60. It is just over 5 miles east to Blood Mountain, at 4,458 feet, the highest point of the AT in Georgia.
For a scenic overview of the surrounding mountains, drive back to GA 60 and turn right. A quarter-mile on your right is the Chestatee Overlook, a cleared area offering a vista of the Chattahoochee National Forest to the east. Another mile up GA 60 is Woody Gap and a view of the Yahoola Valley. The AT passes through the grassy gap. If you need supplies, drive back to Dahlonega.
To get there, from Dahlonega take GA 60 north for 12 miles. Turn right at the sign for Dockery Lake on FS 654 for 1 mile.
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