Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is one of the largest natural reserves in the state of Georgia, with over 800,000 acres of protected land. There are 850 miles of recreation trails cutting through the forest and across the North Georgia Mountains, many of which are multi-use. The trails are perfect for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and off-roading.
The forest is also home to hundreds of lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers, making it a great destination for RV campers interested in fishing and boating. Fishing highlights include Lake Blue Ridge and Lake Burton, but you’ll find a number of smaller areas packed with a range of fish species. You can also hike to some of the more remote stream fishing areas if you want to get away from people.
With six RV campgrounds scattered throughout the forest, you’ll have a range of options when it comes to choosing a site for your rig. Lake Winfield Scott Campground offers developed sites on the shore of a pristine 18-acre lake, and is perfect for RV campers interested in fishing and boating. You can also camp at Lake Sinclair, a beautiful 15,000-acre lake with some of the best fishing in the area. You can find more information on these in the RV Camping section below.
Located in the mountain valleys of northern Georgia, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is a quick drive from Atlanta, and can also be reached from a number of major cities in nearby states. There are a few highways running through the forest, and many of the main campgrounds are a quick drive off main roads.
If you are coming from Atlanta, take I-85 to I-895, and you’ll get to the edge of the forest in around an hour. From Chattanooga, take I-75 and GA-136, and you’ll arrive in around two and a half hours. Take I-85 south from Charlotte, and you’ll reach the forest in around three hours.
Major RV campgrounds in the forest, including Blue Ridge Campground, can be reached by staying on the main highways that cut through the area. Large rigs should have few issues on these roads, as they are all paved, with few tight turns. However, the area is mountainous, and there are a number of RV campgrounds tucked further back in the wilderness. If you choose one of these campgrounds, make sure that your campervan can handle winding mountain roads.
Set on the shores of the small, 18-acre Winfield Scott Lake, this campground is great for RV campers interested in a more secluded camping. There are 31 sites in the campground, none of which have hookups of any kind. All of the sites have a fire pit and a picnic table, and the campground is pet-friendly. There are three flush restrooms, as well as two vault toilets, and you’ll have access to drinking water at the faucets located in the center of the campground. You can enjoy many year-round activities right from your campsite like picnicking, fishing, and hiking.
Located on the shores of the 15,000-acre Lake Sinclair, this developed campground is one of the best in the forest for RV campers interested in relaxing fishing and boating. The 33 RV sites in the campground are located near the shore of the lake, so you’ll have easy access to a boat launch, swimming beach, and picnic area. Five of the sites feature electric and water hookups. All of the sites have fire pits and a grill, and you’ll also have access to bathhouses and drinking water. This campground is open year-round, although summer is the busiest season. Group camping is available.
With over 850 miles of recreation trails, the forest is a popular destination for hikers. The trails lead across the North Georgia Mountains and along the shores of the dozens of lakes, streams, and rivers in the forest. Most of the main RV campgrounds in the area connect directly to hiking trails, such as Blue Ridge Campground and Lake Sinclair Campground.
The most popular times of year for hiking are in spring and fall, when temperatures are manageable and the forest is dressed in full color. Since the forest is at a fairly high elevation, summer hiking is manageable, provided that you bring plenty of water and stay in the shade.
With dozens of lakes and hundreds of small bodies of water, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is an angler’s paradise. The area is known for having some of the best trophy trout in the country. Fly fishers visit the forest beginning in the spring, with excellent fishing running through late fall.
You can also find great fishing near many of the main RV campgrounds in the forest. Lake Sinclair is a 15,000-acre lake with a developed campground right on the shore. You can also find great, secluded fishing at Lake Winfield Scott Campground.
The forest has hundreds of bodies of water, including a number of large lakes, making it a great area for boating. Take a speed boat out onto Lake Sinclair and enjoy water skiing during the summer. Or head to the smaller Winfield Scott Lake, where you can take long kayak or canoe trips along the shaded shoreline. Boat rentals vary depending on the campground you choose to stay at. Check with the individual campground to see if rentals are available.
The dense canopy and the many bodies of water in the forest provide the perfect home for hundreds of bird species. You’ll be able to spot cerulean warblers, brown-headed nuthatches, rusty blackbirds, and red-headed woodpeckers, as well as a range of birds of prey. The forest is listed as an important bird area by the National Audubon Society, making it one of the best areas in the state for birdwatching. Should you want more information on the birds in the area, check out the websites of Georgia’s audubon societies, many of which provide bird checklists.
Northern Georgia has some of the most scenic drives in the region, with a number of famous roadways that cut through the mountains. Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway is the most notable, taking you to the highest point in the state, Brasstown Bald. You can also take routes that lead across Blue Ridge, which is close to some of the main RV campgrounds in the forest. Driving in the forest is at its best during the fall when the leaves begin to turn.
With over 800,000 acres of land, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is a favorite area for RV campers interested in hunting. You’ll find a range of big game, from white-tailed deer to bear, as well as wild hog and turkey. The forest land is not continuous, as there are a number of private plots in the area. Take caution not to trespass when hunting, and always obey state hunting regulations. Bring a hunting map in your campervan, and check to make sure what is in season before you head out.