Camp Georgia had the opportunity to speak with Doug Chambers, Park Manager of High Falls State Park in Georgia. Listen to our full interview here:
Doug’s favorite activity in the park: “I would definitely hike down to the Falls and take some nice pictures.”
Doug’s favorite place to stay: “Definitely the Yurt, and it’s something the Georgia State Parks are starting to get more and more of around the state.”
Camping High Falls State Park
Camp Georgia: I’m talking to Doug Chambers today. He’s the park manager at High Falls State Park in Georgia. How’s it going, Doug?
Doug Chambers: Doing well, thank you.
Camp Georgia: So, how long has High Falls State Park been there and how did it get its start?
Doug Chambers: Well, the lake was built around the turn of the century, in 1900 to 1905. It was developed for power production, so it was originally a hydroelectric plant. We still have the ruins here at the site of that old building. It was closed around 1960, but the dam and the lake itself was built right around 1900 and completed around 1905.
Camp Georgia: Okay. And what are some of the most popular activities at the park for campers?
Doug Chambers: Definitely hiking. We have about four to four and a half miles of hiking trails, and on that, it’s a relatively short walk from our parking lot of our day use area down to the base of the Falls itself. So that’s definitely the most popular activity going on in the park, but we also have geocaching in the park, where you go out and find the treasures hidden in the woods. We have several of those. And we have canoeing and kayaking on our 650-acre lake, so that’s pretty popular also.
Camp Georgia: Just because I’m into geocaching myself, how popular does that happen to be in the park?
Doug Chambers: We actually, the Georgia State Park has done really well at promoting geocaching inside the parks. Every Georgia State Park has one now, and originally, two years when I came to this park, we had two or three, and now I think we have around seven or eight. We actually had a geocaching event here just this past summer, where we brought in a large group of people and they, you know, went out and found a bunch of new caches. So, it’s actually very popular. We have one on each one of our trails and we have three different trails.
Camp Georgia: It’s hard for me to imagine somebody not liking it, you know? It’s just basically a little treasure hunt, and it really makes a hike a lot more fun.
Doug Chambers: Oh, absolutely.
Camp Georgia: And I’m surprised how many people, when you tell them about it, haven’t heard of it.
Doug Chambers: It’s growing in popularity. So, there are more and more people now, but even up in just the last year or two ago, when you would tell somebody about it, most people would have no clue what you were talking about.
Camp Georgia: What are some other attractions in the area worth checking out?
Doug Chambers: Well, there’s two other Georgia State Parks that are close to us. One is actually a historic site, and that’s 45 minutes south of us, in Juliet, Georgia, and that’s an old farm area and you can still go out and see a lot of the machinery. They still have a couple of special events there. And then about 15 minutes north of us is Indian Springs State Park, which is considered one of the oldest State Parks actually in the nation, and one of our oldest State Parks obviously also.
Camp Georgia: Okay. You guys have any group camping sites?
Doug Chambers: We don’t have so much of the group camp. We do have Pioneer camping, where you can, you know, camp more rustic, and then we also have what’s called primitive camping, and that’s something we’ve just added at the end of the summer. We call it the canoe to your campsite, where you actually have to boat to a small peninsula. It’s not an island, but it is no access from routes. And we haven’t gotten a lot of use out of that, but if you’re looking for a private place, it’s no water and no electric, so pack it all in – pack it out, but it’s definitely a neat place to go and be able to camp right on the edge of the water of the lake.
Camp Georgia: Do you rent a boat for visitors to reach that site?
Doug Chambers: We do. We have canoes, kayaks, Johnboats, and pedal boats that are all rented here at the site.
Camp Georgia: And how far is it by canoe?
Doug Chambers: It’s actually pretty short distance. You can paddle straight there in probably seven or eight minutes, or you can take your time and, you know, go as far out as you want and come back to it. You know, make it a 30-minute or an hour trip.
Camp Georgia: Okay. Two more questions for you, Doug. If you could spend just one hour in the park, what would you do with your time?
Doug Chambers: I would definitely hike down to the Falls and take some nice pictures. It’s kind of unusual to have Falls this far south in Georgia. We are in Central Georgia, just north of Macon. So, it’s very peaceful and, you know, to be so close to the highway, and our park is only a mile and a half off of Interstate 75, which is obviously a very busy interstate. So, to be able to be that close and be down the trail in five minutes and stand at the base of the Falls, it’s just a neat place and a nice relaxation hike.
Camp Georgia: Okay. And if you could spend just one night in High Falls State Park, which specific campsite would you choose and why?
Doug Chambers: Definitely the Yurt, and it’s something the Georgia State Parks are starting to get more and more of around the state. I describe like a permanent tent. It’s about 20 feet wide. It has a canvas outside on top. It has a wall heater. No air conditioning, but it has a dome top so you can look at the stars. It doesn’t come with a bathroom. There is a comfort station like if you were camping that you would walk to, but it does have bedding, so there’s beds to sleep on. There are a couple tables. So it’s just a really neat experience, and it’s that great in between, where you don’t have to bring the tent. We’ve got the tent for you already. You don’t have to bring the bed. We’ve got the bed. Just bring a sleeping bag and, you know, stuff for smores to make basically, and you’re good to go.
Camp Georgia: That sounds like a blast.
Doug Chambers: Absolutely. Yeah, they’re very popular.
Camp Georgia: And that can be reserved?
Doug Chambers: It can. It can be reserved up to 13 months in advance.
Camp Georgia: And I’m guessing it’s booked out quite a few months in advance.
Doug Chambers: It is, especially during the spring, summer and fall. Even in the heat of summer, a lot of people use it. Now, I stayed in one in the middle of winter, and the little wall heater does a great job, you know, keeping the chill off, so it’s a good option. Pretty much any time of the year, but obviously spring and fall are the best times.
Camp Georgia: Okay, sounds fun. Well, hey, thanks for taking some time out of your day to talk to us, Doug. Much appreciated.
Doug Chambers: Absolutely, thank you.