Exploring Georgia | Fort Yargo State Park

As an avid mountain biker, my husband is always on the hunt for new trails to ride. On the recommendation of a fellow mountain biking friend, we decided to take a short drive west to the city of Winder and spend a day exploring Fort Yargo State Park. On foot, of course. This girl does NOT mix well with bicycles and trees.

Situated on 1,816 acres, Fort Yargo State Park is located in Winder, Georgia, about an hour east of Atlanta. The park surrounds a 260 acre lake and provides a wide variety of outdoor activities including, hiking, biking, fishing, and camping (for tents, RVs, cabins, and lakeside yurts, as seen above). Having been to and through Winder several times, I was surprised [yet again!] that we had failed to visit this expansive park prior to this visit, especially when our old house was just on the other side of the county, a whole 30 minutes closer! 

One of Fort Yargo's best features, is its multiple hiking and biking trails, totaling 20.5 miles. Having arrived around noon, I convinced B that we should probably stick to the scenic 0.5 mile Bird Berry Trail and 7 mile Lake Loop Trail. Over 12 miles of moderate to difficult biking trails might not seem like much on a bike, but since we were hoofin' it that day, it seemed in our best interests to try and NOT get stuck walking through the woods in the dark. On a Sunday, no less.

We started out on the paved Bird Berry Trail, leisurely strolling and stopping frequently to check out the various nature guide signs placed throughout the path. After spending a few moments on the birding platform overlooking the lake, we made our way to the Lake Loop Trail which, you guessed it, winds around the large Fort Yargo Lake. The trail, which hugs the shoreline and passes through several of the camping areas, is relatively flat and easy to walk. Seven miles is still quite the distance, though, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks.

While most of the flora and fauna we saw along the way was typical for the area and very similar to the woods around our house, we did spot a few interesting items. The fall color had just barely started to appear, and many of the leaves seemed to have been painted randomly with bright red paint. From a distance, I honestly thought they were some kind of man-made trail or warning markers at first. Whoops!   

About halfway into our walk, we came upon a wooden bridge which offered a beautiful view of the southwest end of the lake.

Finally, we arrived at old Fort Yargo. Now... I have to admit, when we first saw the, umm, "fort", as it's called, I was a bit confused. As a girl hailing from Saint Augustine, Florida, I have certain notions of what a fort should be [Castillo de San Marcos, the home fort I'm accustomed to], and, well... 

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...don't tell the lovely people of Winder, but I am pretty sure that little structure there is what is called a log cabin.  

A very well-preserved cabin, I'll admit! All jokes aside, once I educated myself on the history of the 1792 fort, I had a better understanding of its use and importance to the settlers who constructed it. [I won't regurgitate all the facts here, but if you'd like to know more, Wikipedia has a great article on Fort Yargo's history.]

I have tried to no avail to find out about the letters carved in the side of the fort- if anyone has any info, please let me know in the comments! 

Once we had roamed the fort and surrounding property and taken several photos, we were suddenly very aware of our mistake in leaving our snacks behind. Thankfully, we had parked close to the fort and made a mad dash back to the car and the awaiting brownie my husband had so sneakily picked up at Firehouse and stashed in our vehicle prior to our hike. All in all, it was a great day and we will definitely be visiting this fantastic park again very soon! ...with snacks. 😉

If you're in, near, or planning on visiting Georgia and would like to check out Fort Yargo State Park, here are some great resources. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a wonderful week!
xo, Steve