Rutledge, GA

10 Reasons to Visit the Lake at Hard Labor Creek State Park

Crystal Jackson

Hard Labor Creek State Park may not have the most enticing name, but this 5,804-acre state park located in Rutledge, Georgia, between Madison and Bostwick is home to numerous recreational activities. One of my favorites is the lake. Area visitors will find much to do here. In fact, an entire visit can be planned around the lake at Hard Labor Creek State Park.

Visitors to Madison and day-trippers from Athens or Atlanta will find much to do at this scenic spot. There's plenty to offer the active adventurer, relaxed vacationer, couple, family, or individual at Hard Labor Creek State Park. For a $5 park pass or an annual state park pass, you can enjoy the many amenities offered.

Here are 10 reasons you’ll want to make a trip to the lake a top destination when visiting the area:

  • Go for a swim. The lake offers a sandy beach with a designated swimming area.
  • Rent a kayak or canoe. For only $10, rent a single or double kayak or canoe and explore the lake. During the summer season, they also offer guided daytime or twilight tours for a small fee.
  • Rent a pedal boat. Grab a friend or three and rent a pedal boat to take a leisurely tour of the lake.
  • Bring your paddleboard or boat. With the benefits of a one-time or annual park pass, you can park at the dock and launch your board or boat in this peaceful oasis. Keep in mind, there’s a 10hp limit for boats on the lake.
  • Go fishing. There are plenty of places to drop a line in the water for those eager to try out this well-stocked lake.
  • Have a lakeside picnic. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the numerous lakeside picnic tables, or spread a blanket nearby and enjoy the view.
  • Do some birdwatching. An AJC article reported in 2012 that Hard Labor Creek State Park is now one of the few parks in Georgia home to nesting bald eagles. You may be more likely to spot the area blue heron, but keep an eye out, and there is plenty for avid birdwatchers to see.
  • Go camping by the lake. Several campsites are available. Set up camp, enjoy the scenic location, and enjoy the lakeside amenities.
  • Enjoy stargazing. Whether you choose to hang out lakeside to watch the stars or visit the Hard Labor Creek Observatory, don’t forget to look up and enjoy the beauty of the night sky on your visit. In fact, visiting the lake at sunrise or sunset is highly recommended. A sunset picnic followed by stargazing could be the perfect couple or family activity.
  • Go for a ride or hike. Equestrian and hiking trails surround the lake. The area also offers off-road biking trails, but these may not offer the same lake views.

When visiting the nearby area, be sure to make time for a lake visit. Whether you come for a day trip, stay in the campground, or book a cabin at the park, you'll want to take advantage of the many attractions available in this beautiful destination. While Lake Oconee and other area lakes may see more visitors, Hard Labor Creek is a peaceful, quiet location you don’t want to miss.

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails:

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