Looking for a Weekend Escape? Visit family friendly state parks — F.D. Roosevelt State Park and Florence Marina State Park
Georgia shares more than just a border with Alabama. While it’s home to the southernmost start of the Appalachian Mountains and the Georgia’s southernmost section of the Chattahoochee River, two diverse Georgia State Parks lie in between these landmarks and provide a weekend escape for families. F.D. Roosevelt State Park (Pine Mountain, Georgia) is the perfect spot for woods exploration, while Florence Marina State Park (Omaha, Georgia) is a water sports haven.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park is Georgia’s largest state park and is just 80 miles southwest of Atlanta. More than 9,000 acres are shared with mountainous woods and hiking trails, rental cabins and campgrounds. F.D. Roosevelt is a backpacker’s haven, with more than 40 miles of trails to explore; the most popular and challenging being the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail. The trail rolls over hills and meanders past small waterfalls and creeks, showcasing stunning seasonal views for backpackers and hikers. For day hikers, there are seven loops along the Pine Mountain Trail, all of which make good day hikes and range from three to eight miles.
For those interested in the park’s history, visit Dowdell’s Knob that overlooks the Pine Mountain Trail. Here, President Franklin D. Roosevelt often picnicked and the site is marked by a life-sized sculpture of the president. Just like the former president, enjoy a picnic at the picnic tables and take in the scenic views of the valley. The quickest trailhead to reach this overlook is the Dowdell’s Knob parking lot.
Many of the park amenities were built by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps during The Great Depression, including the Liberty Bell-shaped swimming pool (one of the few pools at Georgia’s state parks) and the cottages. Stay overnight in one of these fully equipped, historic 1930s stone cottages. The 21 cottages start at $110 for a two-night minimum stay and offer one, two or three bedrooms. Choose from a setting among the wooded mountains or along Delanor Lake. Backpackers also have the option to enjoy the solitude of nature in 16 of the park’s backcountry campsites along the Pine Mountain Trail. These sites are $10 per person, while the park’s campsites (offering amenities) start at $26 per night.
About 75 miles south, Florence Marina State Park sits on the northern edge of Lake Walter F. George, which straddles the Georgia-Alabama line. With access to the 45,000-acre lake, Florence Marina is the perfect weekend getaway for guests to enjoy boating, fishing, camping, and birding. The campground is adjacent to the park’s private marina, which offers easy access to fishing piers, 66 boat slips and a boat ramp.
Cruise on Lake Walter F. George, and cast a line to fish for Largemouth Bass, crappie, brim, channel catfish and hybrid bass. A lighted fishing pier allows for a chance to catch fish during dawn or dusk. Jon boat rentals are available from the visitor center for four hours for $35 or eight hours for $60.
For birders, Florence Marina provides spectacular views of wildlife on the 3/4-mile nature trail, such as herons, egrets and bald eagles that live among the oaks draped in Spanish moss. The Kirbo Interpretive Center showcases area wildlife and plants, local history and Native American artifacts.
Extend a trip and stay overnight in one of Florence Marina’s 15 cottages or efficiency units. All seven cottages feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and two are dog-friendly. Rates begin at $150 for two-night minimum stays. For smaller accommodations that still offer comfort from the outdoors, the eight efficiency units are one-bedroom and sleep four, offering two double beds and a full kitchen. These begin at $75 per night for a two-night minimum.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park
Address: 2970 Georgia Highway 190
Pine Mountain, GA 31822
Florence Marina State Park
Address: 218 Florence Road
Omaha, GA 31821
All Photos courtesey of Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Used with permission