Civil War history buffs will love to visit Magnolia Springs State Park in Millen, Georgia. During the Civil War in 1864, this land was the site of Camp Lawton, where Confederate soldiers held 10,000 Union prisoners. Today, RV visitors can still see a few remnants of what was once known as the largest prison in the world. Archaeological digs are ongoing to uncover 19-century artifacts like prisoner belongings. The Camp Lawton Museum details the unique history of the prison from in-depth exhibits and displays, such as replica uniforms and recovered artifacts.
As you might guess with "springs" in the name, Magnolia Springs State Park is also known for its mystic springs that draw visitors from near and far. While you can't take a dip in the springs, you can enjoy the view from above by strolling along the boardwalk that surrounds it. These springs flow millions of gallons of water per day and attract a wide range of wildlife, including alligators and turtles. Whether you walk along the boardwalk or the nature trail near Magnolia Lake, the waterfront views are just gorgeous.
Magnolia Springs State Park is open year-round and also full of outdoor activities for the entire family to enjoy. The summer months offer fishing, biking, and canoeing along the lake. Canoes are available for rent, and you can pick up some live bait in town nearby. Biking along the trails offer a new adventure to riders, especially those who join the Muddy Spokes Club. The off-season offers hiking, birding, and geocaching for all visitors.
The park offers 1,071 acres for exploration and camping, so there is never a dull moment in the campgrounds. There are 26 campsites with water and electric hookups available for RV and trailer camping. A dumping station is nearby to dispose of your waste or just clear out excessive grey water in your tank. The park enjoys hot summers and cool winters due to its inland location.
Running between Highway 121/25 and Harvey St, Magnolia Springs State Park is located right next to Millen Airport. The closest cities are Augusta, just an hour to the north, and Savannah, about two hours to the southeast. The town of Millen is only a few miles away from the park’s entrance, but you may want to go to Statesboro or Waynesboro if you would like to shop or try a few fine dining restaurants.
The roads leading into the park are paved with a slight incline as you make your way to the check-in point. Whether you are staying for the day or planning an overnight visit, there is a small parking fee associated with the park. The wooded areas and the beautiful lake provide small areas to relax and unwind from your travel. Magnolia Springs State Park is best explored on foot or bike.
The largest parking lots are near the Park Office and the picnic area by the Line Sink Trailhead.
There are only 26 campsites available for RV and trailer camping. Standard sites offer water and electric connections, and a few host sites include sewer hookups as well. There is also a dump station nearby for you to dispose of your grey water. Camping sites can fit up to a 40-foot trailer or RV, but many visitors have been able to fit up to a 50-foot trailer or RV with a little legroom to work with.
At each site, only two cars and six people allowed, and extra cars will be subject to a small fee. The sites are paved and surrounded by trees so that you will have plenty of privacy from your neighbors. The trees are helpful in the summer when the temperatures and humidity are high. Amenities include restrooms, hot showers, a picnic table, a fire ring, free laundry rooms, and a folding table. Pets are welcome as long as they are restrained when outside of the rig.
You are not allowed to bring your own firewood; firewood and ice are available for sale in the park office. You may stay a maximum of 14 days at a time and may reserve up to 11 months in advance.
If you are looking for a camping experience that is a little more rugged, you can try one of the three walk-in campsites. These primitive sites are only suitable for tent camping. Each offers water hookups, a fire ring, a picnic table, and a grill. The walk-in sites are not far from the campground, so you'll have easy access to showers, restrooms, and other campground amenities. Pets are welcome, but make sure they remain on a leash.
Coming to Magnolia Springs State Park with a large group? The Pioneer Campsites might be just what you're looking for. These pet-friendly group campsites are primitive and can hold up to 75 people each. You can get in touch with nature while enjoying a few amenities like cold water showers, pit toilets, Adirondack shelters, picnic tables, fire rings, and grills. Keep in mind that you will not have access to the amenities of the main campground.
Looking for accommodations that are a bit homier? You can stay in one of the park's nine cottages. There are two- and three-bedroom options that can hold from four to 12 people. These cottages offer rustic charm with cozy, wooded interiors, plus the convenience of modern amenities. Every cabin is furnished with a fully-equipped kitchen. You'll enjoy heat, A/C, a TV, DVD player, microwave, frig, coffeemaker, and dishwasher. Cooking utensils and linens are provided. Three cabins are ADA-accessible, and three are pet-friendly. The cottages are just steps away from fishing and boating on the lake. Best of all, you can watch a peaceful sunset while sipping your favorite drink on your private deck.
Fishing has to be one of the main selling points of the park for RV visitors. Every year Magnolia Lake is stocked with crappie, bass, trout, and many other types of fish. Remember to take your fishing rod and tackle the box along with some bait in your RV’s storage. If you are over the age of 16, you must purchase a fishing license online or in person. If you don't have a license, you can take part in one of the many free days of fishing offered by the park. You will need a boat permit and the registration documents for your boat to go out on the water.
You can rent a canoe from the park store year-round. Take the time to explore Magnolia Lake and observe the fiddler crabs and water birds that call the park home. There are also lifejackets and oars for rent. You can paddle along the edge of the creek and run through cool water with your fingers. Remember to leave all electronics at your campsite to avoid wetting or falling into the lake. If you bring a snack on the lake, remember the surroundings and take your trash with you.
Five miles of trails winds through the park that are perfect for mountain biking. The one-mile Lime Sink Trail ranges from easy to moderate. Hikers are also allowed to use this trail and all bikers must yield to hikers. Wearing a helmet is highly encouraged while riding. For those who are in search of a challenge, check out the Muddy Spokes Club, where you can join for a small fee to check out the best trails in Georgia.
There are over 400 bird species that call George home all year-round. You can spot various birds along the shore of the lake and along the trails. Pay close attention to the various types of birds and their nests. Many of the trails offer the painted bunting, brown thrasher, snow goose, brant, and many more. A birding list of the entire park and surrounding areas can be provided by the staff upon request, so be sure to ask them. Remember to bring your binoculars and pack a pair of walking boots in your rig, then explore the Woodpeckers Woods Nature Trail.
The park offers four trails that range from easy to moderate. If you would like to learn more about the park’s history, then take a walk on the nearly one-mile Fort Lawton Historic Trail. You can see some of the remnants of the fort. The Woodpecker Woods Nature Trail is great for bird watching and observing the different animals that call the park home. You can follow this trail to a boardwalk that spans over the entire springs. Remember to take a map, water bottle, and pack a strong pair of hiking boots in your campervan.
Geocaching allows you to be an explorer and go treasure hunting with your family and geocaching friends. Geocache is a very simple activity and requires a curious nature, a pencil, robust walking boots, a GPS device, a water bottle, and your own personal treasure. Before exploring, make sure you know the cache logging rules. Leave a cache area as undisturbed as you can to make the next set of explorers as excited as you were.