Exploring the Mistletoe State Park hiking trail is a great way to experience the beauty found in the state of Georgia. One of 54 State Parks in Georgia, Mistletoe State Park was named after Mistletoe Junction, a place where locals used to go to gather mistletoe during the holidays. Look at some other reasons why you should choose the 1,972 acres of Mistletoe State Park for your next vacation destination.
What to Expect: Mistletoe State Park Hiking Trails
One of the best reasons for visiting Mistletoe State Park is the 12 miles of easy to moderately difficult hiking that you can enjoy while you are there. There are also three-and-a-half miles of nature trails as well as a wildlife observation area on Loop Trail that is a great place to view the various inhabitants of the park.
Some of the animals you may see along the trails include:
- Wild turkey
- Canada geese
- Red and gray foxes
- Many species of songbirds
With only a 130 foot change in elevation, this is a great place for beginners to learn, as well as being an enjoyable trek for more advanced hikers. There are also some recent (hoax or real?) findings that Bigfoot-like creatures also roam the Georgia wilderness. There are several different trails, offering a variety of hiking experiences.
The Beach Trail is a short (1.9 mile) hike with a 20% slope. It winds its way from the south of the campground and toward the beach, providing scenic access to the beach itself. It's mostly a forested route, taking hikers through mostly poplar and pine forest, and then a paved road, across from which is the beach itself.
Campground Loop Trail
The Campground Loop Trail is a 1.5 mile long trail that takes hikers across a very gentle slope. The trail is to the south of the campground, and then veers left, taking hikers through forest, across a footbridge that goes over a stream, and then loops back up to the campground. It provides both aquatic and forest wildlife viewing.
Canyon Trail Loop
This trail, which is one of the park's shortest jaunts at ⅓ mile, takes hikers across mostly flat land. The primary feature of the Canyon Trial Loop is a canyon which was caused by rain runoff and poor farming practices in the beginning of the 20th century, leading to a picturesque canyon. Benches provide a spot to sit and enjoy the view before hikers continue on their way.
Cliatt Creek Nature Trail Loop
The Cliatt Creek Nature Trail is around 3.25 miles long, with a 25% elevation rise throughout the course of the trail. For much of the trail, the route follows Cliatt Creek, then eventually leads back to the nature center, which is where the trail begins. Expect to see aquatic wildlife, as well as plenty of oaks, sweetgum, and pine. There are also camellias along the trail, which you may be able to catch in bloom if you visit during their bloom season, which is typically October through March.
Rock Dam Trail
The Rock Dam Trail is the longest of the trails at Mistletoe State Park, at just over six miles long from start to finish (though if you add the Rock Turn Return Loop, which will take you through more open meadows, that adds another mile.) It has a 25% grade, adding a bit of challenge with a slight rise in elevation. This trail provides some of the best wildlife and wildflower viewing in the park, especially near the ravine, which is at the highest point of the trail.
If you are looking for a place to hike in the winter, Mistletoe State Park may be just what you are looking for. You will enjoy mild winters in Georgia although you may experience cold temperatures in higher elevations.
Summers range from warm to hot and humid with temperatures in the upper 90s. If you get too warm, you'll appreciate the two small streams along the trails as well as 72,000 acre Clarks Hill Lake.
Camping and Recreation
Hiking isn't the only thing you'll love at Mistletoe State Park. It is a great camping destination as well. With 92 campsites, 2 backcountry campsites as well as RV sites and cabins, you can plan a fun vacation for the whole family. The park is open year round with the busiest time being April through late September. Call 1-800-864-7275 for reservations.
Clarks Hill Lake is known for offering the best bass fishing in the country. You can rent a boat or canoe a try to catch dinner during your visit. You can also enjoy biking or swimming on the beach.
There are various events that take place in the park as well. In the fall you can enjoy the Family Fall Fest. Or, visit in December and experience the Pioneer Christmas. There are various nature center activities throughout the year as well. Learn to build your own shelter, identify animal tracks or go on a nature walk. Visit the website and click on the newsletter link for more information.
Other Attractions Near Mistletoe State Park
With so much to do at Mistletoe State Park, you may not see any reason to leave. However, if you do decide to venture out of the park, there are other things to do as well. Here are just a few places you will enjoy:
- Robert Toombs House Historic Site-Learn about some Georgia history while you visit the museum and gift shop.
- J. Strom Thurmond Dam-This popular public recreation lake was built between 1946 and 1954 by the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers.
- Augusta, GA is a great place to visit with countless shops, restaurants and cultural attractions.
Trails for Hikers of Any Skill Level
Whether you prefer a quick, gentle hike through the woods or a longer, more challenging hike, there's at least one trail at Mistletoe State Park that will work for you. All of the trails are clearly marked with signage, so you don't really have to worry about losing your way. The sights of wildlife, beaches, wildflowers, creeks, and ravines await you.