Don Carter State Park

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5000 N Browning Bridge Rd, Gainesville, GA 30506, United States

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Introduction of Don Carter State Park

Don Carter State Park opened in 2013, making it Georgia’s newest state park. The park is named after Don Carter, a real estate executive who served on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Board for 29 years. Don Carter State Park was the first state park established on Lake Lanier. Lake Lanier is a 38,000-acre body of water that offers water activities for the entire family. The lake provides fishing, boating, swimming, and a variety of other activities for the entire family to enjoy.

The park has 1,318 acres of exploration and camping for visitors of all ages. Hiking on over 12 miles of trails is possible, as is kayaking on one of the many water trails. The park provides year-round activities aimed at improving understanding of the park’s natural resources. There are 44 RV sites to choose from, with some offering water and electric hookups as well as leveled pads to rest your camper.

Don Carter State Park focuses heavily on providing various resources for water recreation and camping. You can rent a kayak, paddle board, or aqua cycle during peak season, which runs from early March to late November. Rentals are available at the camp store, and if you have time, you can also browse the park’s gift shop for other books and supplies. The park has hot summers and cold winters, but if you’re from Georgia, you won’t be surprised by a sudden change in temperature in the middle of any season. When you bring your RV to Don Carter State Park, there is so much to see and do.

Don Carter State Park Camping

There are 44 RV camping spots available. Half of the sites face the lake, while the other half face away from it. Each lot is paved with gravel or dirt and is flat, allowing for proper drainage when it rains. There is a dump station near the campground and a grey water disposal area near each lot.

Each site includes water and electric hookups, as well as other amenities such as a fire ring, picnic table, patio, and a lantern post. Furthermore, two host sites offer full hookups, including water, electric, and sewer connections.

Because this park is newer than others, there isn’t much privacy between you and your neighbor. Fortunately, the park has taken the initiative to plant trees and shrubs between the sites for the benefit of future visitors. The majority of sites can accommodate a 45-foot trailer or RV, but larger sites can accommodate up to a 100-foot trailer or RV. You can stay for a maximum of 14 days at a time and make a reservation up to 13 months in advance.

Don Carter State Park has 12 primitive campsites if you want a more rugged and natural camping experience or if the Hammock Campground is full. There are nine on the Woodland Trail and three on the Lakeview Trail, which is closer to the lake and just northwest of the main campground. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire pit with a grill for cooking, but there is no parking pad or space to park the RV other than in the nearby main parking lot. You’ll have to walk about 270 to 1,230 feet to the campsite from there, depending on which site you choose. There are drinking water spigots and a pit toilet nearby.

If rugged and primitive isn’t your thing, the park also has eight cottages on the lake’s peninsula. Each one is furnished and has two bedrooms, a full bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room. If you have dogs, you must book a dog-friendly cottage in advance, and there is an additional pet fee. Only two dogs are permitted per cottage, and they must never be left unattended.

Playground Don Carter State Park
CC: Social Channel of park

Don Carter State Park Activities


There are five different walking trails from which to choose. Whether you prefer a more difficult or scenic route, each trail will allow you to appreciate the park’s beauty. The Overlook Trail is only a few hundred feet long and is wheelchair accessible. This paved trail provides a beautiful view of the area’s unique ferns and trees. The trails are open all year and some may even be bikeable. If you intend to walk one or more of the trails in a single day, bring sunscreen and water. Pack your favorite hiking boots and a snack for an exciting day on the trails in your camper.


Boat rentals are available at some state parks, but not at Don Carter State Park. You may, however, come across various businesses on the lake that not only offer boat rentals, but also boat tours. A few rules apply to boating on the lake for your safety. While on the lake, please remember to wear a life jacket and sunscreen. Lake Lanier allows privately owned boats and rentals as long as the proper permits are obtained. The park also has a launching dock near the cabins on Terrapin Cove Trail.


If you want to take a leisurely ride through the park, check out the Woodland Trail Loop, which is one mile long and completely paved. It begins at the gravel parking lot directly across from the beach. The paved Lakeview Loop is about a half-mile long and begins and ends at the parking lot. Turn right at the kiosk and then right again for a great workout, or turn left for a shorter and easier ride. This trail leads to a side trail that leads to the boat ramp and fishing pier. This can be combined with the Woodland Loop to create a 1.5-mile figure-eight trail.


If you want to catch some bass or crappies, Lake Lanier is a great place to go fishing. The 38,000-acre lake is home to a variety of water activities. To fish in the freshwater lake, you must have a valid Georgia fishing license. Keep in mind that you are not required to have a fishing license three to four days out of the year. Because the dates change each year, you’ll need to call the park for more information. Largemouth bass, striped bass, black crappie, and walleye are some of the most common freshwater fish found at Lake Lanier.


The picnic area is directly in front of the park’s beach. You will be charged a small fee to park and swim there. There is a beach house where you can change, as well as bathrooms nearby. The swimming area is roped off, and motorboats are not permitted within ten miles of it. Depending on the day, there may or may not be a lifeguard on duty, so be extra cautious and keep an eye on your loved ones. Pets are not permitted on the beach, but they are permitted on the trails if kept on a leash. Wear sunscreen and bring water and snacks if you plan to spend the day at the beach.

Don Carter State Park Location

The park is approximately 10 miles from I-85. Keep your commute in mind, as living near a major city can result in traffic jams and other delays. Due to road closures and highway maintenance, driving in and around Atlanta can take a long time and a lot of gas. On the other hand, this could indicate that you are near shopping malls and other retail establishments. Gainesville has many attractions to offer whether you drive through Atlanta or not.

A large gate separates the main road from the park on the road leading into the park. You will notice a clear sign directing you to the main office. Because the park is new, the roads are well-kept and the signage is current. After checking in, you can choose the best spot for your RV. Unless you choose to have one, there are no assigned sites. The campground is also separated from the main park area by a large gate. If you expect to arrive later than expected, you should definitely call ahead. At the gate, a park host or ranger will greet you and check you in.

Because of the lake’s proximity, there may be some flooding during the rainy season. The good news is that because the park is higher in elevation than some of its surrounding areas, flooding is not a major issue. During the rainy season, expect plenty of puddles and the beach to be closed. Aside from that, you can relax and enjoy your stay. While you’re there, it’s a good idea to bike or walks around the park. If you require assistance due to a disability, the rangers and park hosts are always happy to help.

Sitting area Don Carter State Park
CC: Social Channel of park



Parking is available

Public Transport

Public Transport is not available

Don Carter State Park Photos

Don Carter State Park Map