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.

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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.

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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.

[tmt_info =””]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.[/tmt_info]

[tmt_info =””]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.[/tmt_info]

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Note: This trip was first published in 2006.

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