August 2012 News & Events from Georgia's State Parks

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August 2012

Explore the Wonder of the "Moon and Stars"

Twilight Paddle Excursion
Georgia’s State Parks are celebrating the enchantment of the “Moon and Stars” with themed nighttime events the entire month of August.  With the Perseid meteor shower peaking on August 11 and full moons on August 2 and 31, it’s the perfect time to enjoy summer nights.  The rare moon occurrence (two full moons in one month), referred to as a “blue moon,” happens only every two and a half years! 

Whether you’re an aspiring astronomer or simply like the cooler temperatures, there are a variety of evening programs to enjoy this August.  Hikers can explore trails by moonlight at Tallulah, Sweetwater, Panola and Hard Labor Creek state parks.  Full moon paddle excursions are offered at George L. Smith, James H. Sloppy Floyd and Sweetwater Creek state parks.  Serious stargazers will want to head to Stephen C. Foster State Park in the Okefenokee Swamp, home to some of the darkest skies in the state, or to Hard Labor Creek State Park’s observatory.  Below are just a few examples of evening programs planned this month.  A full calendar is available at

Full Moon Hikes in the Gorge
August 1, 2 and 31
Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls
Enjoy the gorge in the magical, shimmering light of the full moon. The hike will begin at the Interpretive Center, following the North Rim Trail, with a descent of the Hurricane Falls Trail staircase to the suspension bridge over Hurricane Falls. This is considered a strenuous hike, consisting of approximately 1.5 miles and 1,099 steps. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 754-7981.

Twilight Paddles
August 3, 10, 17 and 24
Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs
Join us for a ranger-led, peaceful outing on the lake at sunset. This trip is for those 16 years or older who can swim or children 6 years or older who can swim and are accompanied by an adult.  Meet at the Bait Shop. Register in advance. $15 includes equipment. $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

Evening Kayak and Wildlife Watching Adventures
August 10, 17, 18 and 31
Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge
The stealthy kayak is a great vessel to sneak up on all sorts of wildlife. This ranger-led paddle will take participants around Lake Rutledge for viewing birds, mammals, dragonflies and other wildlife. Ages 4 and older. Register in advance. $15 includes equipment. $5 parking. (706) 557-3001.

Perseid Meteor Shower
August 10, 8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Stephen C. Foster State Park – Fargo/Okefenokee
Come out to the darkest skies in the state for a spectacular view of the Perseid meteor shower. Ask about our new astronomy permit that allows you to stay between 2 and 4 a.m. to see up to 100 meteors per hour. $5 refuge parking fee. (912) 637-5274.

Astronomy Night
August 11, 9 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Georgia Veterans State Park – Cordele
Spend a night exploring the heavens, featuring the Perseid meteor shower, stars and planets. $1 plus $5 parking. (229) 276-2371.

Georgia State University Astronomy – Observatory Open House
August 18, 8:20 p.m. – 10:40 p.m.
Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge
Georgia State University's Observatory will have an open house monthly. In case of inclement weather, facilities will be open for a tour and slideshow.  (706) 557-3001.

“Wagging Trails” Nighttime Dog Hike
August 18, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs
Bring your leashed four-legged friend as we cover 2 1/2 miles including walking alongside the whitewater rapids and visiting the five story ruins of the Civil War era New Manchester textile mill.  $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

Full Moon Bike Ride Down Suwannee River Sill
August 31, 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Stephen C. Foster State Park – Fargo
Bring your bike for this ranger-led ride under the full moon. Look for alligators eyes shining bright red. Listen to owls and a chorus of frogs and toads. Watch bats overhead. Cross your fingers for a shooting star! $5 Refuge Parking. (912) 637-5274.

Blue Moon Paddle
August 31, 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park – Summerville
Join us for this peaceful, ranger-led outing at sunset for the first blue moon in almost three years. This trip is for those 16 years and older who can swim. Register in advance. $8 includes equipment. $2 with own gear. $5 parking. (706) 857-0826.

Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic sites

Enter the 2012 Video Contest

The Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites has announced a video contest with more than $500 in prizes from Bass Pro Shops.  In two minutes or less, tell what Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites mean to you and why they are important.  Friends is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that our state parks and historic sites will be enjoyed by future generations.  To learn more about the video contest, visit  The deadline is September 5, 2012.

Seminole Beach

Keeping Cool in the Great Outdoors

Don’t let August’s heat keep you indoors.  Grab your swimsuit for some last-of-summer playtime in the sun.  Nearly 20 state parks across Georgia offer sandy swimming beaches on their lakes.  You’ll enjoy pretty scenery while the kids work off energy in roped-off swimming areas.  Lifeguards are not provided, so keep a close eye on your little ones. Beach swimming is free with $5 parking.
If swimming pools are more your style, take a cool dip at F.D. Roosevelt, High Falls, Little Ocmulgee, Magnolia Springs or Victoria Bryant state parks.  Lifeguards are provided and a fee is charged.  Little Ocmulgee State Park also offers a “splash pad” that’s perfect for toddlers, and George T. Bagby State Park has a swimming pool for lodge guests only. For more information, visit

Interactive Map & Guide Now Online

Save a tree by downloading your free Georgia State Parks & Historic Site’s Guide, as well as the new ParkVisitor Welcome Map.  The interactive map gives tips on the best places in Georgia for fishing, boating, hiking, camping and more.  You can even learn how visiting a public library can get you a free park visit.  Look for links on

Fort Morris Historic Site

Summer Military Discounts

To thank the men and women who protect our freedom, Georgia’s State Parks are offering a 10% military discount on select accommodations and activities through Labor Day.  Current and retired military will save on cabins, campsites, lodge rooms, golf fees and most retail.  A military ID is required and the offer is limited to one reservation per identification.  Call 1-800-864-7275 for more information.

General Coffee Burnham House

Plan Ahead for Labor Day

The unofficial end-of-summer will be here before you know it.  Labor Day Weekend is always a busy time in the parks, so make reservations now for your favorite spot. Choose from cabins with rocking-chair porches, modern campgrounds with hot showers, lodge rooms with pretty views, and even funky yurts.  By staying in the parks, you’ll be able to enjoy hiking and biking trails, fishing and boating, picnicking, ranger programs and more – right outside your door.  To see what’s available, visit or call 1-800-864-7275.

August 2012 Calendar of Events – Divided by Region

Below are just some of the many programs happening in August.  Check for a full calendar.


Wilderness Survival Weekend – 75th Anniversary of the Appalachian Trail
August 11 - 12, 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge – Dawsonville
Learn skills such as fire building, orienteering and natural-cordage making. Programs are a blend of lecture and hands-on activities suitable for families (7+ years old). $5 parking. (706) 265-1969.

Freshwater Wetland Workshop
August 18, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen
Adopt-A-Wetland (AAW) teaches citizens about freshwater wetland systems, their threats and importance, as well as how to identify hydric soils and plants. Come out to learn all about wetlands and how you can help collect data to promote their conservation and protection. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 878-3087.

Gold Fever
August 25, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen
Hear the history of local gold mining and geology. The morning begins with a presentation depicting cultural influences that lead up to the 1828 Georgia “gold rush.” A hike on the Martin Mine trail provides an opportunity to interpret the scars that gold mining efforts left on the landscape. Register by August 10. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 878-3087.

Tallulah Gorge Floor Hike
August 31, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls
This is a strenuous trek, include hiking down 531 stairs, a river crossing jumping from rock to rock, and climbing boulders along the side of the river to Bridal Veil Falls where you can swim. Total miles are 3.5. No pets; wear appropriate footwear; children must be 10 or older; bring food and water. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 754-7981.


First Saturday at Fort King George
August 4, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Fort King George Historic Site – Darien
Historians will fire the fort's cannon, conduct musket drills and lead hands-on games for children, such as a scavenger hunt, rolling hoops and tug-of-war.  $4 - $6.50. (912) 437-4770.

Georgia’s First Fourth
August 11 - 12, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Wormsloe Historic Site – Savannah
Hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence as it was read in the town of Savannah in August of 1776. Participate in the debate to declare independence or to remain loyal to the king. See musket firings and more. $4.50 - $8. (912) 353-3023.


Dig into the Past
August 4, 10 a.m.  – 4 p.m.
Roosevelt’s Little White House Historic Site – Warm Springs
Visitors will have the opportunity to bring items for an archaeologist to identify. Children will learn the techniques and tools of artifact discovery.  $8-$12. (706) 655-5870.

Basically Bats
August 11, 8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge
Bats are strange animals indeed!  They are the only mammals that can sustain flight, most are nocturnal, and they help us in ways that many people don't realize. Join a biologist to get a peek at the world of a very secretive and beneficial animal. $ 5 plus $5 parking. (706) 557-3001.

Archery Explorer Train Ride
August 18, 9:30 a.m. – 4:25 p.m.
August 25, 9:30 a.m. – 4:40 p.m.
SAM Shortline Excursion Train – Cordele
Riding in air-conditioned, 1949 vintage train cars, you will travel across Lake Blackshear to Plains and back. Explore President Jimmy Carter’s boyhood farm (Jimmy Carter National Historic Site), go shopping and sample peanut butter treats. Groups and parties welcome. 1-877-427-2457.

Storytelling Around the Campfire
August 31
Mistletoe State Park – Appling
Enjoy a night of storytelling around the campfire as a local storyteller brings tales to life. $5 parking. (706) 541-0321.

Labor Day On The Lake
August 31 - September 2
Florence Marina State Park – Omaha
Let's get outside and have a little fun on the park. Our family celebration including games, nature programs, and crafts. $1 - $5, $5 parking. (229) 838-4706.


Frog Slog
August 4, 5:30 p.m.
Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge
Learn how to identify frogs by their calls. Investigate wetlands and streams in search of frogs and salamanders. Be prepared to get wet, muddy, and bring a flashlight and headlamp, nets, seines and buckets.  Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Mountain Music Series
August 4, 11, 18 and 25
Red Top Mountain State Park – Cartersville
Enjoy our free bluegrass concert series where bands play every Saturday night. Bring a chair or blanket to sit on, and meet at the Vaughan Cabin behind the park office. $5 parking. (770) 975-0055.

Butterfly Safari
August 19, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge
Panola Mountain's grassland habitats provide great butterfly viewing areas. Bring a digital camera to record these incredible creatures. A ranger will point out plants along the way that are important food, and we'll look for a variety of species including Buckeye, Tiger Swallowtail, and many types of grass skippers. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

August 25, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site – Cartersville
Did you ever wonder how an arrowhead is made? An expert flintknapper (maker of arrowheads) will demonstrate this ancient art form. Learn why this craft was necessary and how to get started making them yourself. $3.50 - $5.00. (770) 387-3747.

View the entire August calendar at

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