Are you looking for a great South Georgia retreat? On our way back from Savannah, the wife and I stopped at George L Smith State Park. The focal point of this park is the 412 acre lake, laced with cypress and tupelo trees. Everything was draped with Spanish moss. The swollen tree trunks formed an interesting obstacle course as we leisurely paddled through the dark, still waters. Within minutes we had lost sight of the canoe launching point. It felt more like being in a swamp than a lake.
The place abounds with birds, and in the center of the lake, we glided past what appeared to be an Osprey nest. The huge bird unleashed an unusual vocal and circled us twice. Several woodpeckers darted around the lake and a few water birds made their presence known. Thankfully, we never spied any alligators, though it did scream alligator haven. My wife and I had several discussions about the contingency of an alligator attack. I’m afraid I am going to be in trouble because she has vowed to keep paddling and never look back. Of course that is just what I would want her to do as I sink to the bottom, held captive by the merciless grip of 75 carnivore teeth. On a more serious note, the gators are not a significant threat, but I wouldn’t suggest taking a swim, and it’s against park policy.
On one edge of the lake is an old covered bridge and mill built in 1880. Many years ago, this mill was used to saw logs into lumber and grind corn. As we walked through the mill, we could see the old grinding stones and the water turbine. In addition to the mill, the park also features camping, cozy cottages and seven miles of trails. They claim 10 miles of “canoe” trails.
We decided to rent a canoe which was $5 per person, but there is a local kayak outfit you can call to arrange for kayak rentals or guided tours. For more information, check out these links:
If you plan a weekend trip or want to stay the day, the town of Metter is about 12 miles away. They have a hotel and several restaurants. We ate at a wonderful barbecue place called Jomax.