Things to Do in Moccasin Creek State Park on Lake Burton

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[Updated on November 26, 2021] After becoming empty nesters in 2019, my lady and I decided that we wanted to start the process of looking for our future home. 

I’d grown up hiking in the North Georgia mountains with my family, spending many a memorable summer day at my grandparents’ humble cabin on Lake Hartwell. 

So documenting our search for a place in the Blue Ridge Mountains, preferably on a lake or river and surrounded by forest, was one of the primary reasons we started this site later that year. 

From Blue Ridge GA to Asheville NC, we’ve been fortunate to explore some excellent mountain towns over the last few years. But it wasn’t until we visited Clayton GA for the first time in September 2020 that we stumbled on a place where it hit me like a ton a bricks… “I could totally live here!”

That place was Lake Burton, and a day trip to Moccasin Creek State Park served as our introduction to it. 

Read on to learn what we loved about the area, including some history of the lake and the park as well as our guide to the best things to do there. 

From camping and canoeing/kayaking to hiking, waterfalls, picnicking, and fishing, Georgia’s smallest state park has an impressive array of activities to offer!

READ MORE: 101+ Things to Do in North Georgia

Fisherman at Moccasin Creek State Park
Fisherman at Moccasin Creek State Park

Moccasin Creek State Park Info

ADDRESS: 3655 Highway 197, Clarkesville, GA 30523

PHONE: 706-947-3194

MOCCASIN CREEK STATE PARK RESERVATIONS:  1-800-864-7275

PARK HOURS:  7:00am to 10:00pm daily

OFFICE HOURS:  8:00am to 4:30pm 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-85N to I-985N, following signs for Gainesville for 23.7 miles. The road becomes US-23N, which you’ll follow for 21.4 miles and take the US-441 N/GA-105 N/GA-385 N exit.

Turn left and take GA-105 N/GA-385 N/US-441 BUS N/Old Historic U.S.441 N for .7 miles, then take a left onto GA-105 N/Cannon Bridge Rd. Follow that for 8.5 miles, then turn left onto GA-17 N.

In 3.5 miles, turn right onto GA-255 ALT N, then another right on GA-255 N in 3.3 miles. Follow that road for 3.1 miles, then turn left onto GA-197 N. 

In 8.6 miles, you’ll see the entrance to Moccasin Creek State Park on your right.

DIRECTIONS FROM CLAYTON:  From downtown Clayton GA, head west on US-76 W for approximately 10.8 miles, then turn left onto GA-197 S. Follow that for 3.7 miles, then turn left into Moccasin Creek State Park.

Want to explore more of the best North Georgia State Parks?

Check out these great guides!

The 15 Best North Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites

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Things to Do in Black Rock Mountain State Park

Things to Do in Unicoi State Park and Lodge

Things to Do in Vogel State Park

New Echota Historic Site in Calhoun GA

The Unique Unicoi State Park Barrel Cabins

Cloudland Canyon State Park Cabins Review

Fishing from Bridge at Moccasin Creek State Park
Bridge over Moccasin Creek

Moccasin Creek State Park GA History 

Moccasin Creek State Park is located in Northeast Georgia on Lake Burton, where it is surrounded by the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.

As with most of the North Georgia Mountains, the Upper Tallulah Valley region was originally inhabited by Cherokee Indians.

The Cherokee were forced to surrender their ancestral lands to the State of Georgia in 1817, and were removed from the area completely after gold was discovered in Dick’s Creek and Dukes Creek in 1828.

The nearby town of Clarkesville GA was founded as the seat of Habersham County in 1821.

But the 2,775-acre Lake Burton wasn’t created until 1919-1920, when Georgia Power (then known as the Georgia Railway & Power Company) built a series of 6 lakes along the Tallulah River’s natural course in order to provide Atlanta with hydroelectric power.

Both the lake and the long-gone town of Burton (which now lies below the surface of the lake) were named after the area’s first postmaster, Jeremiah Burton.

Moccasin Creek State Park began as a simple campground in 1963, after Fulton Lovell (who was then Director of the Georgia Game & Fish Commission) oversaw the purchase of a 32-acre tract of land.

It was originally run by the Lake Burton Fish Hatchery (which is located inside the park’s boundaries), but quickly became so popular that it became a Georgia State Park in 1966.

Though it remains the smallest of Georgia’s State Parks at just 32 acres, Moccasin Creek remains popular among locals for its sheer beauty and prime location on one of the state’s most lovely lakes. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Clayton, GA (the Gem of Northeast Georgia)

Kayaking Lake Burton at Moccasin Creek State Park
Father & Son Kayaking Lake Burton

Things to Do in Moccasin Creek State Park

Boating/Canoeing/Kayaking

Encompassing 2,775 acres, with 62 miles of shoreline, the beautiful Lake Burton is obviously the main attraction at Moccasin Creek State Park. 

The boat ramp next to the Lake Burton Fish Hatchery is currently closed due to construction (and scheduled to reopen in April 2021). But the Moccasin Creek boat docks remain open.

You can still explore the lake by boat if you put in at the Murray Cover Boat Ramp (off Bridge Creek Road), Tallulah River Boat Ramp (on the Tallulah River), or the ramp at LaPrade’s Marina.

Moccasin Creek State Park also rents canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards (though this service has been on hold due to COVID-19). It’s an affordable way to explore the lovely lake, with rates at $12/hour, $24 for 4 hours, or $40 for 8 hours.

Note that there is no swimming allowed in Moccasin Creek State Park. But public swimming is allowed at Timpson Cove Beach off Charlie Mountain Rd (an 8-mile drive from the park). 

READ MORE: How to Get to Anna Ruby Falls Near Helen, GA

Boy fishing at Moccasin Creek State Park in Clarkesville GA
Boy fishing in Moccasin Creek

Fishing Moccasin Creek & Lake Burton

Lake Burton is beloved by anglers for its exceptional fishing opportunities.

Popular catches including largemouth bass, spotted bass, white bass, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, white catfish, walleye, brown trout, rainbow trout, and yellow perch. In fact, the state record for spotted bass was set here with an 8 pounds, 2 ounce catch. 

With its location right next to the Lake Burton Fish Hatchery, Moccasin Creek State Park is an excellent place to cast your line for trout. The lake is stocked with 20,000 brown trout every year as fall colors begin to peak, and by the next year they’ll measure 20 inches long and weigh up to 4 pounds! 

Note that the fishing bridges over Moccasin Creek itself are only open to anglers under the age of 12, over the age of 65, or those who possess a Georgia disability fishing license (the fishing pier is also ADA accessible). 

But the Moccasin Creek boat ramp, Murray’s Cove Boat Ramp, and Lake Burton Dam are all great places to fish, with July through September being the best time to land a tasty trout! 

READ MORE: Things to Do in Black Rock Mountain State Park Near Clayton GA

Picnic Pavilion at Moccasin Creek State Park
Lovell Pavilion at Moccasin Creek State Park

Have a Picnic

From Black Rock Mountain and Tallulah Gorge to Warwoman Dell and the Lake Rabun Beach Recreation Area, Rabun County has no shortage of amazing spots to grab a bite while soaking in the beauty of nature. 

But for our money, Moccasin Creek State Park rivals all of them in terms of places to picnic with a picture-perfect scenic view. 

The park offers numerous shaded picnic tables right on the shores of Lake Burton, with the spectacular scenery sprawling as far as your eyes can see.

But there are also romantic shaded swings along Moccasin Creek, where the gurgling waters provide a serene soundtrack as you snack with your sweetie. 

For groups, there’s the massive Lovell Pavilion, which was named in honor of Fulton Lovell. Call the park at 800-864-7275 to inquire about reservations and current capacity limits. 

READ MORE: How to Get to Panther Falls & Angel Falls GA (at Lake Rabun Beach Campground)

Couple standing atop Hemlock Falls, GA
Hemlock Falls

Hike the Hemlock Falls Trail

There are 17 Rabun County waterfalls open to the public. And some of them– including Dicks Creek Falls, Minnehaha Falls, Holcomb Creek Falls, Panther Falls, and the various Tallulah Gorge Falls– rank among the very best Georgia waterfall hikes.

The 1.9-mile, in-and-out Hemlock Falls trail (which is just around the corner from the entrance to Moccasin Creek park) also deserves a place near the top of that list. 

The picturesque trek offers several superb cascades, a gloriously pristine stretch of the Chattahoochee National Forest, and a relatively easy 200 feet of elevation gain. 

The hike provides excellent overviews of Moccasin Creek’s rushing waters, as well as several lower falls along the route to the Big Show. 

But it’s the photogenic upper Hemlock Falls that makes this one of our favorite waterfall hikes in GA, with rhododendron up top and big rocks scattered about in the pool below.

TIP: get there early on weekend mornings if you want to beat the crowds! 

READ MORE: How to Get to Minnehaha Falls, GA at Lake Rabun

Moccasin Creek State Park Bridge
Bridge Over Moccasin Creek

Hike to the Wildlife Observation Tower

Though not quite as eye-popping as the Hemlock Falls trail, this one-mile trail (which departs from the same parking lot) makes for a lovely stroll through the Chattahoochee National Forest.

The Non-Game Interpretive Trail head begins at the dam across from the state park entrance, meandering through the woods along the lower section of Moccasin Creek. 

The Wildlife Observation Tower is the highlight of this hike. Animals found in the forest includes mammals such as Bats, American Black Bears, Coyotes, Beavers, River Otters, Bobcats, Deer, Weasels, and Foxes.

But you’re much more likely to see Squirrels and birds such as Cardinals, Ducks, Geese, Hawks, Eagles, and, if you’re lucky, the occasional Owl. 

READ MORE: How to Get to Hemlock Falls at Moccasin Creek State Park, Georgia

 

Tour the Lake Burton Fish Hatchery

As mentioned above, the Lake Burton Fish Hatchery is currently closed due to major construction. But when it’s reopened in April 2021, the facility will be bigger and better than ever before. 

The original building was built back in the 1940s and had only been renovated once, in 1978, as part of the Clean Water Act.

But the new facility should improve the health and conditions of the 300,000 or so brown trout the fish hatchery produces each year. 

The upgrades will include a large building with eight 16-foot circular holding tanks inside, along with numerous newly rebuilt linear raceways for outside fish growth. 

As always, the new Lake Burton Fish Hatchery will remain open for self-guided tours during its operating hours, from 8am–4:30pm. Call 770-535-5498 for more info. 

READ MORE: Goats On The Roof: Family Friendly Fun Near Clayton GA

Harley Davidson at Moccasin Creek Campground
Repping Harley Davidson at Moccasin Creek Campground

Moccasin Creek Campground Info

Easily the most popular of the various Lake Burton camping options, the Moccasin Creek Campground features 53 Tent, Trailer, and RV Campsites to choose from on a large, single loop. 

Sites #1-7 offer the closest proximity to the gurgling waters of Moccasin Creek, while sites #14-21 offer the best views of Lake Burton. 

But there’s really not a bad spot in this well-shaded campground, which includes amenities such asa boat launch ramp, dump station, fish-cleaning station, ADA accessible fishing piers, two comfort stations with showers, washer/dryer access, a picnic shelter, and a trading post. 

Other fun recreation options include a huge playground, volleyball court, horseshoes, and the aforementioned canoe, kayak, and paddleboards available for rent.

For campground reservations, call 800-864-7275. –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

 

 

Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

The BRMTG was created by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, the award-winning team behind the world-renowned responsible travel website Green Global Travel. Bret grew up camping and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia and North Carolina with his parents, and the couple both spent childhood summers on the water with their grandparents. After becoming empty nesters, they yearned for a pristine place where they could escape the hustle and bustle of the city, commune with nature and family, and embrace a sustainable lifestyle that leaves time to appreciate the simpler things in life. Join them and their team as they explore the region, offering expert insights on Blue Ridge travel as they search for the perfect mountain home.