JAMES H FLOYD STATE PARK INFO
ADDRESS:2800 Sloppy Floyd Lake Road, Summerville GA 30747
JAMES H FLOYD STATE PARK RESERVATIONS: 800-864-7275
PARK HOURS: 7:00am to 10:00pm daily
OFFICE HOURS: 8:00am to 5:00pm daily
ENTRY FEES/PASSES: $5 parking fee for daily entry, or $50 for an annual park pass
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: GA State Parks
RESERVATIONS WEBSITE: Reserve America
DIRECTIONS FROM ATLANTA: Take I-75 N to exit 306 for GA-140 W toward Adairsville. Turn left onto GA-140 W and follow it for 2.1 miles, then take a slight right to stay on GA-140 W.
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THE HISTORY OF JAMES H “SLOPPY” FLOYD STATE PARK
The city of Summerville GA dates back to 1839, when it began with 90 acres of land purchased from early settler John F. Beavers for $1,800.
It wasn’t long after Summerville’s initial growth spurt that people discovered a rich vein of marble running up the valley about 3 miles east of town. But it wasn’t until 1923, when Frank Dodd sent a marble sample from his Summerville farm to a Georgia State geologist, that someone decided to exploit it.
Dodd and his neighbors consulted experts, including Samuel Tate of the Georgia Marble Company (builder of the Tate House mansion). The marble was described as unusual due to the great variation in its color and pattern: Some was light flecked with dark spots, some had a wood-like grain, and some was black flecked with quartz-like white.
Before long, 8,000-pound blocks of marble from a quarry near where Sloppy Floyd State Park is today were being shipped to building contractors in Atlanta to be cut and used in construction.
The industry didn’t last long, due to the expense involved in mining and shipping the marble. Holes in the ground created by mining led to the twin lakes that are at the heart of the park today.
By 1966 the area had turned into a public fishing hotspot managed by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, and in 1973 it became Chattooga Twin Lakes State Park.
So where does the “Sloppy” come in? Summerville local James H Floyd earned his nickname while playing high school football. The husky lad, who stood just 5’5″ tall, was famously disheveled due to his rotund figure.
So his coach began calling him Sloppy due to the way his football uniform fit (or didn’t), and the moniker stuck! Floyd went on to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1953 to his death in 1974.
He was best known for the Bond v. Floyd Supreme Court case, in which he led an effort to prevent newly elected state rep Julian Bond from taking his seat in the House for his anti-Vietnam War stance.
Floyd lost in court, but was honored the year of his death when the park was renamed James H Floyd State Park.
The park was expanded to the Chattahoochee National Forest border in 1996, when another 275 acres of land was purchased from Georgia Marble via the Georgia Community Greenspace program.
THINGS TO DO IN JAMES H FLOYD STATE PARK
Hike the Marble Mine Trail
The most famous of the James Sloppy Floyd State Park hiking trails, the Marble Mine Trail is an easy-to-moderate 1.7-mile round-trip hike to an abandoned mine entrance.
The official trailhead starts at the parking area for the picnic shelters at the Upper Lake. But you can also add a little extra hiking distance (and lovely lake views) by walking across the boardwalk from the park office.
Following orange blazes, the hike takes you along a wide gravel roadbed where fragments of marble are scattered, reminding you of the area’s mining past. Huge hardwoods provide dappled shade, and small creeks run along and underneath the trail.
The elevation incline gets steeper as you get closer. But the reward at the top is the picturesque spot for which Sloppy Floyd Park is most famous, with a 35-foot waterfall trickling into a brilliant blue pool.
From there, you can either return the way you came or continue climbing to reach the epic Pinhoti Trail, a 1/2-mile of which is located within the park’s boundaries.
Fish the Twin Lakes
As mentioned above, the twin lakes at Sloppy Floyd were considered hotspots for fishing in Chattooga County long before it became one of the official Georgia State Parks.
The park’s two lakes– the 18-acre Upper Lake and the 32-acre Lower Lake– are both kept well-stocked with channel catfish, bass, and bream.
Each of the lakes offers a boat launch for private boats (electric motors only), but you can also rent jon boats and pedal boats at the park office.
We love the fact that there’s an ADA-accessible fishing pier here, and you can fish from the boardwalk that crosses the Upper Lake.
But note that anyone aged 16 and older must have a valid resident or non-resident fishing license in order to fish in Sloppy Floyd Park.
Enjoy a Picnic With a View
For a relatively small state park (just 561 acres), Sloppy Floyd offers an impressive array of options for small and large group picnics.
Both lakes are dotted with an array of picnic tables, shaded benches, and open grassy areas that make perfect places for a midday feast.
There are four massive picnic shelters that can accommodate up to 75 people. Before making reservations, it’s best to call the park at 706-857-0826 to inquire about their current capacity limits.
Several of the shelters are located near one of the park’s two playgrounds, and ducks and geese are almost always around looking for an easy snack!
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Hike the Upper & Lower Lake Loop Trails
Hardy hikers may enjoy tackling the strenuous Pinhoti and Jenkins Gap Trail to the top of Taylor Ridge. But we preferred the more leisurely stroll of the park’s Upper and Lower Lake Loop Trails.
The Upper Lake Trail starts from the same parking area as the Marble Mine Trail, but avoids the inclines as it meanders around the 18-acre lake. You’ll pass through fern-covered hillsides and the gurgling creek of the backcountry camping area, with North Georgia wildflowers such as Bloodroot, Trillium, and more along the way.
You can access the Lower Lake Trail from the park office or spillway, or you can start with the connector trail near the cabins or campground to create a 1.8-mile out-and-back hike.
There’s a progressive story element for kids, wildflowers and flowering shrubs such as the Oakleaf Hydrangea, and keep your eyes peeled for Eastern Bluebirds, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, and other native birds of Georgia.
Kayaking the Lakes
With gas-powered boats prohibited from the twin lakes, Sloppy Floyd Park is a great place for North Georgia kayaking without any concern for waves.
The water here is cool, relatively clear, and peaceful, with birds flying overhead and numerous little coves and inlets to explore.
The lakes are particularly beautiful at sunset, when the mirror-lake reflections on the water create an almost otherworldly scene.
Kayaks and canoes can be rented from the park office, and they usually offer a ranger-guided sunset paddle once the Autumn leaves reach their colorful peak.
JAMES SLOPPY FLOYD STATE PARK CABINS
With the town located just a few miles away, you could easily rent one of the many Summerville cabins (or even a treehouse!) available on VRBO..
But the cottages at Sloppy Floyd easily rank among our favorite GA State Park cabin rentals we’ve stayed in. They offer a full kitchen, wood fireplace, loads of space, and partial views of the Upper Lake from the rocking chair porch.
We also loved the outdoor space, which included our very own picnic table, BBQ grill, and a fire pit that proved perfect for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.
Note that they only have four cottages here, and the two dog-friendly cabins tend to get booked up quickly. So we recommend making reservations as far in advance as you can.
SLOPPY FLOYD CAMPGROUND
Located past the twin lakes at the southern end of the park, the main Sloppy Floyd campground features 24 tent, trailer, and RV campsites.
All of them offer electric and water hookups, picnic tables, and fire rings. The campground also features a comfort station with restrooms, showers, a washer/dryer, and a playground.
There are 4 Backcountry Campsites located along a rushing creek in between the Marble Mine Trail and Upper Lake Loop. They also feature picnic tables and fire rings, with a pit privy for your restroom needs.
There’s also a really nice lakeside Pioneer Campground that can hold up to 65 campers. The shaded pine area features four Appalachian Trail-style shelters, two of which have built-in bunks. There’s no electricity, but it does have dry bathrooms and running water. –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett