It's taken nearly 20 years, but campers in North Georgia can finally enjoy new campsites and cabins on the shores of Lake Lanier.
Purchased by the state in 1994 as one of a "string of Pearls" along the Chattahoochee River, Don Carter State Park opened September 15.
"It's been great," says Kim Hatcher, the spokeswoman for Georgia State Parks. "It's been very popular."
Named after a longtime Georgia DNR board member, the park includes 44 RV sites and 12 walk-in tent sites set among the hardwoods on the Northeastern edge of Lake Lanier.
Like Georgia's second newest park, Chattahoochee Bend southwest of Atlanta, planners designed the park to keep tents and RVs separated. Hatcher says some of the walk-in sites are about 100 yards off the road. That design came from feedback the park system received at other parks.
For those looking at something nicer than their tent, Hatcher says the cabins are a standout feature of the park. "I personally think they are some of the prettiest cabins we have in the state park system," she says.
While camping is the main attraction at some parks, it's more of an added bonus at Don Carter, which is about 130 miles from Chattanooga. "The boat ramps and the beach are the big draws," Hatcher says.
At least at first, hiking will not be a major part of the park. While there are plans for more routes, the park opened with only 3.5 miles of trails, and 1.5 of that is paved. Like other lake parks, including Red Top Mountain in Cartersville, Hatcher expects Don Carter to draw the biggest crowds in the summer. The winter months promise to be less crowded. "That's good for people who can get away during the school year," Hatcher says.