I enjoyed my first camping trip to Lake Hartwell so much that I wanted to go camping again and bring my sister, brother-in-law, and my dog Riley. We decided to go to Lake Lanier the weekend after Labor Day.
My sister was a summer camp counselor so she’s been there, done that with the camping thing. My brother-in-law has also camped before and he grew up playing in forests, mountains, and fields in Germany so I figured neither of them would have any serious issues with camping at a relatively posh site like Lake Lanier. They didn’t. Not that we gave them anything to worry about. My boyfriend and I set up the tents and everything so that my siblings could arrive like royalty and just enjoy the night. (It was a post-anniversary gift).
The Sawnee camp sites at Lake Lanier are larger than those at Lake Hartwell but they are also a bit closer together, it seems. The Lake has 692 miles of shoreline offering plenty of campsites for people who want easy access to the water. Again, the drought* has taken its toll on this lake, too, but we were still equipped with a nice view and plenty of wet space to cool off in.
But that’s not what we did. My boyfriend has got problems with lake water (“It’s slimy!”) so we opted to hike instead. (Note: dogs aren’t allowed on the trails at Lanier. Riley had to sit this one out.) My boyfriend and I took the 3.8 mile trail that skims much of the lake and veers off into the forest. The hike was quite pleasant: most of the trail is shaded and there are little wooden footbridges throughout that direct you over marshes and small streams. We saw a family of deer (4 or 5) and crossed paths with a turtle that was headed toward the highway. We redirected him and hoped he took the hint.
The paths are well marked in most areas and points of interest, though not very interesting to me, helped us to gauge the distance and the route. There are about 20 beaches on the lake and we passed two of them along the trail. We also passed three rest stops and two small playgrounds so there is plenty of opportunity to rest for anyone who needs a respite. We strolled at a comfortable, moderate pace and made it back to our starting point in 2.5 hours. The trail is easy without much elevation gain.
One good thing about Lake Lanier is the team of rangers that walk around handing out fliers and talking to people about when the floodgates open. They really want to prevent accidents and they do what they can to keep the dam and its guests safe; it’s up to the guests to heed their advice. The ranger we spoke with really seemed to love his job and was quite helpful.
I felt bad that Riley wasn’t able to hike with us at Lanier so we went to nearby Roswell Park. The original intent was to do a bit of geocaching (Riley would’ve liked the off-road action) but we doubted that my sister and brother-in-law would dig it so we stuck to the paved trail. Maybe next time.
Roswell Park trails are comfortable to walk with very few stretches that aren’t covered. The wooden bridge reportedly gets very slippery when wet and it can be dangerous for joggers and bikers. Oh, the bikers… they add a different dynamic to the trail experience. I love bikes and bikers, don’t get me wrong. It’s just an additional thing to think about when you’re walking, especially with a dog or child. “On your left!” is what most bikers shout before zooming by (thank you!) but sometimes they don’t say anything at all. You don’t know a stealthy road bike is coming until a handlebar clips your elbow and you feel a breeze pass. Sometimes the bikers do shout but the runners have their headphones in and don’t hear them. Quite a few near collisions. The biker/runner relationship can get a bit strained at Roswell Park because of that.