Atlanta Area Campsites

By Johnny Malloy

Locals already know it, and others will tell you after just one visit: Atlanta is growing faster than you can say pork pull. But it's far from gobbling up all of the Peach State's natural habitat. Folks weary of urban life will be happily surprised by the proximity of Atlanta's heavenly outdoor get-aways.

A simple look at a map of Georgia will reveal most outdoorsy getaways are just north of the big city, in the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian range's heavily forested ridges rise above 4,500 feet, and are laced with trout streams, waterfalls, critters great and small, and far reaching vistas. Being the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail brings these Georgia highlands some notoriety, but not as much as they deserve. Having over 600,000 acres of land under public trust as national forests and state parks means that these areas, along with being highly accessible, are well preserved as well.

Extensive public management has meant extensive development of camping facilities within these vast lands. Dockery Lake, part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, is an ideal example. The US Forest Service impounded a small clear highland stream and incorporated an inconspicuous, yet appealing campground into the natural landscape. Here, visitors can fish, hike and bike to their heart's desire, then return to enjoy a night by a woodland campfire. Under private ownership this may be an expensive enclave of
second homes.

More escapes lie just beyond Georgia's borders. To the west, a short drive down I-20, is Alabama's Pinhoti Trail, located in Talladega National Forest. Though this area's stretch of the Appalachians is less lofty and acclaimed, these mountains don't deserve less attention. The Pinhoti, Alabama's master trail, runs the spine of these old hills. The Pinhoti can be hiked for a day or a week. And it keeps getting longer. Plans call for extending the Pinhoti, Indian for "turkey," to meet the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia.

Another recreation area, Tate Branch, while actually lying in Georgia, offers the most excitement in North Carolina, just a walk away. The Southern Nantahala Wilderness ignores boundaries and extends into both states. Your domain is of no import here, the Southern Nantahala is all high, rough and ready to roam.

Not sure where to start? Pick a region and find out.


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