Lake Hartwell: Tugaloo State Park, Georgia

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Tugaloo State Park wasn’t originally part of my travel plans.  I had hoped to travel south of I-85, hitting several other small towns.  But, the day was slipping by, it was cloudy, and I decided I had just enough time and energy left to explore one more nearby location.  Tugaloo just happened to be there, so I decided to check it out.

Location

Tugaloo State Park is located on Lake Hartwell, the body of water that makes up part of the Georgia/South Carolina state line.  Take I-85 exit 173, and head north on Ga. Rte. 17.  Less than a quarter mile from the interstate, you’ll see a sign for Tugaloo State Park.  The entrance to the park is about 5 miles away.

My Visit

Once inside the park, Lake Hartwell branches out all around you.  There’s a large parking lot near the swimming area.  During my short visit, I used the “beach” as a starting point, and explored just the areas nearby.

I was most impressed by the red clay dirt that stretches down to the shoreline.  I’m a Floridian, so I’m used to seeing white, sandy beaches–but I thought the red clay made for a nice change of pace.

Pine trees line the shoreline…

… and provide plenty of space for a shady picnic.

If you must jump into the water for relief from the Georgia heat, this is where you’ll do it.  The beach is nothing spectacular, but I imagine it’s packed on sunnier days.

The name “Tugaloo” is what the local Native Americans called the river that once cut through this area.  Now, the river has been dammed, forming Lake Hartwell.

The Georgia State Parks website provides more information on the amenities offered at Tugaloo State Park, including more than a hundred campsites, and 20 cottages, which are available for rent.

Note: This trip was first published in 2006.

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