Located between Athens and Atlanta, Fort Yargo State Park offers the perfect urban escape with a rich history, miles of spectacular hiking and biking trails, and a 260-acre lake. This Georgia state park’s central feature is Old Fort Yargo, a log fort built by settlers in 1792 for protection against the local natives, the Creek and Cherokee tribes. While the historic fort is interesting enough to attract history buffs to the area, it is not the only form of recreation this 1816-acre state park has to offer. The park also offers a wide range of outdoor recreation options for visitors of all kinds to explore the vast woods and enjoy its sizable lake—making it a great choice for your next RV trip.
Hikers will enjoy trekking through Fort Yargo State Park’s 20 miles of trails, while mountain bikers will revel in the 12-mile mountain bike loop, which winds around the park’s perimeter. Meanwhile, swimmers and sunbathers can soak up the sun on the park’s sand beach, while boaters of all kinds can cruise around Fort Yargo’s lake. The park maintains two conveniently located boat ramps, and the even offers rentals of jon boats, kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, and pedal boats. Visitors to this park can cap off a long day of adventuring with a game of disc golf or mini-golf.
Fort Yargo State Park is located just 25 miles west of Athens and 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, in the city of Winder, Georgia. With Highway 81 on one side and Highway 11 on the other, this Georgia state park’s convenient location makes it very accessible for cars and RVs.
Once inside the park, visitors will find the paved roads easy to navigate and can reserve either a back-in site or pull-through site, for even easier access. Parking is available at the campsites and various locations sprinkled throughout the park, including at the mountain bike trailhead, at Old Fort Yargo, at the boat ramp near Entrance B, and the boat ramp near Campground #2.
Fort Yargo State Park has two campgrounds offering a total of 40 RV sites available for reservation. Campground #1 consists of 26 spacious campsites, each of which offer water and either 30 or 50 amp electrical hookups, a picnic table, fire ring, and are capable of accommodating rigs from 25 feet to 50 feet in length. Several of these campsites are situated right along the shoreline of the lake. The sites provide easy access to well-maintained restrooms with flush toilets and running showers. There are no sewer hookups, but guests can take advantage of the sanitary dump station located near the entrance to this campground. It is important to take the time to note the features of the campsite you are reserving as some of the campsites are back-in sites while others are pull-through, and they can vary quite a bit in size. There is a fishing dock near this campground, at the northern end of the lake, as well as one nearer to campground #2, at the southern area of the lake. A large amphitheater and a playground are centrally located between the two campgrounds.
Thirteen additional RV-capable sites are available in Campground #2, which offers the same range of features as the sites in Campground #1. As in Campground #1, these sites all have water hookups, and either 30 or 50 amp electrical hookups, a picnic table, fire ring, and they are capable of accommodating rigs from 25 feet to 50 feet in length. A few of the campsites sit on the shore of the creek that feeds into the lake. While there are no sewer hookups for the campsites at Fort Yargo State Park, guests can make use of the sanitary dumpsite found near the parking for the boat ramps. As with Campground #1, Campground #2 has both back-in and pull-through sites that vary in size. Before reserving your space, make certain your rig fits in your desired campsite. A large amphitheater and a playground are centrally located between the two campgrounds. Pets are allowed at both Campground #1 and Campground #2 as long as they are restrained by a six-foot or shorter leash but prohibited in and around historic buildings or designated swimming beaches.
No matter which other adventures you may choose to fill your days with during your visit, a trip to Fort Yargo State Park would not be complete without a quick stop to the park’s namesake and central feature: Old Fort Yargo. Conveniently located near the park’s main entrance and nature center, Old Fort Yargo is a historical fort built in 1792 by settlers. It was designed as protection against the Creek and Cherokee Indians that once occupied this land. Stopping by this important historical site is an easy way to add a rich historical element to your visit to this Georgia state park. While leashed dogs are permitted in most areas of this state park, they are not allowed in or around historic buildings.
Fort Yargo State Park is a popular destination for mountain bikers, as well as visitors to the park. People who want to explore the park on two wheels will have plenty of trails to tackle. The park is well-known for its 12-mile Mountain Bike Loop, which winds around the park’s perimeter and is best suited for experienced riders. Some of the most memorable sections of this trail include the ominously-named Heart Attack Hill, which takes riders up and down a beautiful hillside above the lake, and Monster Mile, which features tough climbs, tight turns, and steep descents. Less experienced cyclists will enjoy the easier Turtle Creek Loop, which offers a peek at the lake at its lowest point, or the Recreation Trail, which traverses a footbridge across the lake.
If you are hoping to explore this 1,816-acre park by foot, you will not be disappointed. Fort Yargo State Park boasts more than 20 miles of hiking trails, which range from short and easy to long and moderately difficult. Those looking for a short stroll can hop on the half-mile Bird Berry Trail, which features a birding area, nature signs, and a gazebo, all along a paved trail. Hikers who prefer a longer, more challenging hike can tackle Lake Loop Trail, which travels seven miles around the lake and into wooded uplands, giving adventurers diverse views of plants and trees.
Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt made possible by GPS and cellular technologies where participants use both the technology and their own searching skills to find small, hidden caches. There are several caches that can be found in Fort Yargo State Park, both for serious geocachers who have a premium geocaching account, and the more casual players with a free account. In addition, Georgia State Parks has also developed two specialized GeoTours that range throughout the state and award many participants with metal geocoins as rewards. The Parks GeoTour traverses 44 state parks in Georgia and players can earn either bronze, silver, or gold level coins. The caches for the History Trail GeoTour are located at 19 different historical sites and have 4-digit lock combination that requires participants to solve clues to open them.
Visitors looking to add a different kind of adventure to their next RV camping trip can park their trailer at Fort Yargo State Park and add miniature golf or disc golf to the agenda. This Georgia state park is home to both a disc golf course—which is exceptionally challenging—and a miniature golf course, which visitors can use for a small fee. These courses, located next to the swimming beach, make a fun addition to a trip filled with more rustic adventures like hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
Campers who are hoping to escape the Georgia heat can plan to head straight to Fort Yargo State Park’s large swimming area, which offers visitors a sandy beach that opens up onto the park’s 260-acre lake, Marbury Creek Reservoir. The swimming beach is located next to the disc golf course and boat rental area. It features a beach pavilion, bathhouse, picnic area, and overlook. Families, groups of friends, and visitors of all sorts will enjoy soaking up the sun on the sandy beach and then cooling off in the refreshing Marbury Creek Reservoir. While leashed dogs are permitted in most areas of this state park, they are not permitted in or around swimming areas.
Fort Yargo State Park is a boater’s paradise. The park provides two convenient boat ramps and offers a wide range of boat rentals during the summer months. Private boats are also permitted, and the well-maintained, paved roads and plentiful parking make it easy for campervans to tow their boats in. People who plan on bringing their own boat can enjoy cruising around Fort Yargo’s lake on any boat with under 10 horsepower. Those who would prefer to rent a boat upon arrival can rent jon boats, kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, and pedal boats from the park from April to October.
Fishing, particularly bass fishing, is another popular activity in Georgia State Parks, and Fort Yargo is no exception. While boat fishing is typically quite productive at Marbury Creek Reservoir, fishing from the shore is often more popular, and there is plenty of fishable shorelines available. Largemouth bass can often be found in abundance in the deeper areas of the shoreline where they can find ample cover, with especially large fish near the shore that runs alongside Camp Will-A-Way. Crappie also inhabits these waters but in lower numbers than the largemouth bass.