Camping, hiking and walks in the woods. You can do all of that this Memorial Day weekend and all summer long with your dog at a Georgia State Park. The Department of Natural Resources encourages you to do so and is making sure that Georgia’s State Parks are ready for you and your pooch. But before you head out to the great outdoors here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
Camping: More than 40 Georgia State Parks have campgrounds which welcome dogs. Your dogs need to be leashed (6 feet or shorter) and accompanied at all times. Park campgrounds offer hot showers, laundry facilities, and water/electric hookups. Here are some good locations to check out: Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth, Mistletoe State Park on Clarks Hill Lake, Reed Bingham State Park in Adel and Skidaway Island State Park near Savannah. Here is a full list of camp sites.
Cabins: If you and your dog don’t care for sleeping under the stars, you can rent a dog-friendly cabin. More than 30 state parks have them. You’ll have to pay a $45 fee and there is a two dog limit. Advance reservations are highly recommended as dog friendly cabins fill up fast. Some of the recommended parks to go to: Cloudland Canyon State Park near Dalton, Seminole State Park on Lake Seminole, Magnolia Springs State Park in Mellen or Crooked River State Park in St. Marys.
Hiking (and Sniffing) Trails: Most of the Georgia State Parks contain dog friendly walking trails. (Tallulah Gorge and Panola Mountain state parks are the two exceptions.) Dogs need to be leashed at all times while on these trails though. Join Sweetwater Creek State Park near Atlanta or F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain for occasional ranger-led dog walks.
Free Dog Walks – Pets RXercise: Dogs need exercise just as much as people do, so that’s why Georgia’s State Parks partnered with the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association to encourage dog walking. Vets can give a “prescription” for a healthy walk, which is redeemable for a $5 parking pass. Trails range from easy to challenging – and everything in between. Less active dogs might start out at Kolomoki Mounds State Park near Blakely or Laura Walker State Park in Waycross. Long-distance hikers might prefer trails at Black Rock Mountain State Park near Clayton or Victoria Bryant State Park near Lavonia.