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An outdoor gem in Statesboro’s backyard


August 03, 2018

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If you’re looking for a surreal yet relaxing experience, it isn’t too far away! George L. Smith State Park is nestled near Metter, Georgia. With a canopy of cypress trees, still water, and sounds of various bird calls echoing through the woods, you can find a place to escape your weekday routine. The park takes you back in time with its refurbished Parrish Mill, which is a combination of a gristmill, saw mill and dam originally built in 1880. The pond is perfect for a day of canoeing or kayaking, fishing, and hiking. If you choose to stay overnight, there are 24 tent and RV campsites with water and electricity. Many waterfront campsites are available. It is especially a great time to plan an overnight stay. The park has a completely renovated visitor’s center and group shelter, as well as cottages.

My family has spent a number of weekends here, as well as Boy Scout outings for group kayaking trips. Cypress trees border blazed canoe trails and provide a stunning backdrop for a relaxing outdoor excursion. When I’ve taken my children, we rent a canoe so our dog can join us on the boat ride. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent at the park or you can contact nearby private rental companies such as Mill Pond Kayak. Maneuvering around the cypress can be difficult and sometimes bumpy, so take your time!  There are plenty of options with 10 miles of black water trails. If you prefer to stay on your feet, there are 7 miles of trails surrounding the pond. Hikers can meander through the woods while searching for gopher tortoises, Georgia’s state reptile. Pack a lunch, bring your camera, and leave stress behind for your day at one of Georgia’s unique state parks.

The park is located about 25 minutes from I-16 near Metter, and only 35 minutes from Statesboro heading west on Highway 80. It’s 1 hour from Macon, and 1 hour and 20 minutes from Savannah. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the office is open 8 a.m. to 5p.m. There is a $5 parking pass. For camping or cottage reservations call 800-864-7275. For park information call (478) 763-2759 or visit the website at https://gastateparks.org/GeorgeLSmith.


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