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Winter Camping Guide For Atlanta

December 22, 2012 8:00 AM

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Camping enthusiasts have a plethora of choices for sleeping in the winter wilderness within an hour or two of Atlanta, offering varying degrees of wild enjoyment. Choose eco and organic features, primitive “pioneer” locations with minimal comforts or “pack it in and out” hiking destinations. Pitch a tent, hook up an RV, go backcountry and sleep under the stars with “squirrels nest” platforms. Most of the parks feature hot showers, trails and camping supplies for sale. Reservations are suggested and can be made 13 months ahead of time. Reservations for all parks can be made at (800) 864-7275.
Amicalola Falls State Park Campground
418 Amicalola Falls State Park Road
Dawsonville, GA 30534
(706) 265-8888
www.gastateparks.org/lodges/amicalola

This mountain location is home to Amicalola Falls, a 729-foot waterfall that is the highest in the eastern U.S. Considered the southern gateway to the Appalachian Trail on Springer Mountain, amenities include 24 updated camping facilities, a lodge for meals,  hiking trails and interpretive programs. The hike to the falls is steep and a hikers’ lodge requires a five-mile trip on foot. Celebrate New Year’s Day with a hike up to the falls starting at the Westridge Falls Access. Pets are welcome with leash requirements.

A.H. Stephens Historic Park
456 Alexander St. N.W.
Crawfordville, GA 30631
(706) 456-2602
www.gastateparks.org/AHStephens

This park offers 12 miles of horseback riding trails and a special campsite for horse lovers, among traditional hiking and sleeping under the stars. A Confederate museum, boating, fishing and geocaching are also available. Learn about the park’s namesake, A.H. Stephens, the first Confederate vice president, and see the extensive collection of authentic Civil War artifacts. Tour Stephens’ original home, Liberty Hall, renovated to its 1875 features. The park is currently featuring a photo contest through January 13, 2013.

Unicoi State Park and Lodge
1788 Highway 356
Helen, GA 30545
(706) 878-2201
www.gastateparks.org/Unicoi

With mountain bike trails, a three-mile hike to picturesque Helen and hiking to Anna Ruby Falls, this park is an outdoor favorite. Featuring 82 campsites, visitors can still indulge in a restaurant on site offering a trout buffet. New Year’s Day features a 2.5-mile hike around Unicoi Lake.

Related: Getaway Guide: Weekend Trip Along Blue Ridge Parkway

Red Top Mountain State Park
50 Lodge Road S.E.
Catersville, GA 30121
(770) 975-0055
www.gastateparks.org/redtopmountain

Situated on 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona, Red Top Mountain features hiking, fishing and “bring your own” boating. Demonstrations of using an iron furnace give visitors a look at historic iron production techniques and invite enthusiasts to participate. There is a paved trail for wheelchairs and strollers leading to an 1860’s homestead. A gravel trail is open to hikers and bikers with views of the lake shoreline.

Smithgall Woods State Park
61 Tsalaki Trail
Helen, GA 30545
(706) 878-3087
www.gastateparks.org/SmithgallWoods

With creekside cottages with private hot tubs, top-notch fishing and bat hikes by Bat Conservation International, you’ll find ample opportunities here to enjoy outdoor life. Pioneer camps feature the ultimate in outdoor sleeping with minimal amenities. Van tours take guests to a covered bridge and bicyclists can explore forests and wildlife areas.

Related: Guide To Go Ice Skating In The Atlanta Area

Di Chapman has been writing professionally for trade journals, audiobooks and a global business clientele since her early 20s. A coauthor of four books and a regular contributor to numerous blogs, she currently lives in the historic district of Roswell, Georgia, in the greater Atlanta area. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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