My family has always been a huge fan of camping. A couple of days spent in the woods with no distractions from televisions, phones, video games or household responsibilities can be very relaxing. I am also a firm believer in the fact that children will never come to truly appreciate nature if they are not actually exposed to it occasionally! Last week was my children’s spring break from school so we decided to pack up the gear and head into the woods. April is the ideal time to go camping in Georgia because if you wait much later and go during the summer you will regret not being able to bring your air conditioner with you!
We chose Watson Mill Bridge State Park for our camping adventure because it was recommended to us by a friend. It is located in Comer, Georgia which isn’t too far away from Athens. It was a very easy one and a half hour drive from our metro Atlanta home. Depending on your camping experience you may choose to pitch your tent or RV along the main park loop. These sites are fairly close to one another but also have easy access to bathrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. My family much prefers a bit of seclusion when we go camping so we chose a more primitive site. There are three ‘pioneer’ sites available at Watson Mill Bridge State Park. We chose site number three which was located right at the intersection of two beautiful rivers. The site will hold up to 30 people, has 2 picnic tables, fire pit, open pit grill, and a water spigot for potable water. We really appreciated that the site is almost completely level and has few exposed roots or rocks where we pitched our tents. Since the water was only about 30 feet from the campsite we could hear the river running at night which made it incredibly peaceful sleeping. Camping in Georgia in April is hit or miss in terms of temperature. We lucked out with 60 to 70 degree days will sun and a light breeze. The nights were chilly, though! The first night had us shivering in our tent even in sleeping bags rated to 30 degrees. I think the estimated temperature was a chilling 42 degrees F that night. If you plan on camping in Georgia in the spring bring lots of layers that can go on or come off easily, depending on the weather!
Watson Mill Bridge State Park
Watson Mill Bridge State Park is the home of the longest functional covered bridge in Georgia. Having grown up in New England I have a serious love of covered bridges! The river is incredibly wide and shallow where the bridge crosses and we were able to spend a while splashing along the edges and exploring with the kids. The current was incredibly swift downriver of the dam due to recent heavy rains. Close to the bridge, along the nature trails, you will also find the ruins of an old powerhouse and information about the grist mill that used to be located in the area. There is quite a bit of history to the park and the signage was interesting to read during our hike.
Upriver of the damn, the water is incredibly quiet and very slow moving and shallow. There are canoes to rent but we chose to bring our own kayak. Even with all the rain we got in the area the week before, the water was only a few feet deep. The current was very gentle, making for only a tiny bit of work going upstream and a slow and peaceful drift back downriver. Please keep in mind that this is a river in Georgia. We DO have poisonous snakes and on last week’s trip we saw a gorgeous cottonmouth sunning itself on the banks. Just watch where you are going and use common sense. They really do not want to bother you!
The park has many, many miles of hiking trails of which we only explored about 5 miles worth. They are all fairly easy trails with only a slight incline, few steps, and are very well marked. Our kids are teens and had no problems hiking them with us. Well, with the exception of complaining constantly that they would rather be sitting by the campfire eating marshmallows. Fellow parents of teens will probably understand…they don’t generally participate in these things without a bit of moaning and groaning. You will find a wide array of plant life, including numerous ferns, Dogwood trees, a native bamboo like grass, and several wild flowers. As a brand new owner of a DSLR camera I enjoyed getting up close and personal with some of my finds!
If you are planning to go camping in Georgia I highly recommend you check out Watson Mill Bridge State Park. The staff was incredibly friendly, the facilities well cared for, and the camping sites were very clean. We found plenty to keep us busy for a few days but honestly, we also spent a lot of time just relaxing by the fire and listening to the sound of the river rushing by. If you have horses, there are boarding facilities as well as numerous horse trails scattered around the park.