[Updated on 7/20/21] Vogel State Park is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Located just 10 miles south of the quaint town of Blairsville, GA, this beloved North Georgia park is a popular place for hiking, fishing, family gatherings, and viewing the area’s spectacular fall foliage.
Operational since 1931, Vogel and Indian Springs are Georgia’s oldest state parks, and remain steeped in history today. Vogel visitors can visit the Civilian Conservation Corps museum, explore 17 miles of hiking trails and a 22-acre lake, and soak in spectacular mountain scenery.
There are plenty of Vogel State Park camping and cabin options available for every budget, ranging from a pioneer campground to charming (and affordable) cottages. There’s also boat and bike rentals, mini golf, and a beach area for summertime fun.
Here’s a look at the rich history of this popular North Georgia State Park (where I’m currently a volunteer), our favorite things to do there, and an overview of Vogel’s various accommodation options.
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Vogel State Park Info
ADDRESS: 405 Vogel State Park Road, Blairsville, GA 30512
VOGEL STATE PARK RESERVATIONS: 800-864-7275
PARK HOURS: 7:00am to 10:00pm daily
VISITORS CENTER HOURS: 8:00am to 5:00pm off-season; June 1 – Nov 30: 8:00am to 6:00pm Sunday – Thursday, 8:00am to 8:00 pm Friday & Saturday
ENTRY FEES/PASSES: $5 parking fee for daily entry, or $50 for an annual park pass
RESERVATIONS WEBSITE: reserveamerica.com/explore/vogel-state-park/GA/GM
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History of Vogel State Park
This area was originally home to the Cherokee and Creek tribes. It’s not uncommon for lucky hikers or fishermen to stumble across arrowheads and other artifacts of Georgia’s indigenous people in Vogel‘s many streams, creeks and hiking trails.
These historic relics tell the story of many violent and gruesome battles between the two tribes. One conflict was reportedly so savage that it earned the battle sites their names, Slaughter Mountain and Blood Mountain, which tower over the state park today.
The 233 acres of rugged North Georgia mountain wilderness now known as Vogel State Park was later owned by Fred and Augustus Vogel. The brothers ran a logging operation on thousands of acres, in which they harvested tree bark for the tanning of leather.
During WWI, a synthetic method of tanning leather was developed, which rendered the Vogels’ operation obsolete. They donated a portion of their land to the government for conservation in 1927, making it the second oldest state park in Georgia.
Vogel became one of the first projects of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work relief program introduced by then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt as a response to the high unemployment rate during the Great Depression.
The CCC boys were all young (18-25), unmarried men who worked tirelessly to dam Wolf Creek, hand dig the 22-acre Lake Trahlyta, and build log cabins. Some of them still stand today, making them some of the oldest North Georgia Cabin rentals.
They did all this manual labor for a monthly wage of $30– $25 of which had to be sent home according to CCC program stipulations. Many pictures and artifacts related to the park’s development can be found at Vogel’s CCC Museum.
Things to Do in Vogel State Park
Lake Trahlyta Activities
Lake Trahlyta is one of the most popular lakes in North Georgia, and there are many different ways to enjoy it.
In summer the beach area offers visitors a place to soak up the sun and cool off with a swim in the crisp, clear water.
If a relaxing paddle is more your speed, the park’s Visitors Center offers seasonal kayak, canoe, paddle boat, and paddle board rentals ranging from $15-28 per hour.
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There are plenty of fantastic fishing spots in Vogel park to keep avid anglers occupied. The spring-fed lake is well-stocked with Trout, and is also home to Largemouth Bass, Brim, and Catfish.
The grass banks near the dam, a small jetty, and many low points of the Lake Trahlyta hiking trail offer great casting places, with striking mountain backdrops.
The south side of the lake– with its low, wooded banks– offers challenging prospects for more experienced fishermen.
Located at the bottom of the spillway, Wolf Creek and Lance Branch both provide good fly fishing opportunities. The Vogel Visitors Center (located just 50 yards from the lake) offers a small selection of bait and tackle supplies.
The pavilion next to the lake offers a picturesque place for an afternoon picnic. This serene setting often plays host to weddings, private parties, and other special events.
Families can take advantage of Vogel’s relatively flat terrain, with bike rentals on offer at the Visitors Center for $15 for half a day, or $20 for a full day.
The North Georgia hotspot also features two 18 hole mini-golf courses, two playgrounds, various outdoor fitness equipment, and corn hole boards.
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Landscape & Wildlife Photography
Vogel offers excellent opportunities for nature and wildlife photographers alike.
Visitors don’t even have to leave the park to get gorgeous shots of Blood Mountain (the sixth tallest mountain in North Georgia) towering over the landscape. The lake, creeks, and Trahlyta Falls offer shutterbugs a chance to play with light, water, and reflection.
The many White-tailed Deer, Red Foxes, Red-shouldered Hawks, and other birds that call the park home make it fun for wildlife lovers, too. In the warmer months, it’s not uncommon for Black Bears to be seen foraging for berries along the hiking trails.
Lake Trahlyta Hiking Trail
One of our favorite North Georgia hiking trails for kids, this gentle loop around the lake makes for a great morning stroll.
The flat terrain makes it great leg-stretcher for beginning hikers, and the short walk from the dam to Trahlyta Falls is well worth the trip. This 50-foot beauty is the spillway for the lake, and is one of the more scenic and easily accessible North Georgia waterfalls.
An offshoot of the Lake Trahlyta trail leads you down to the viewing platform overlooking the falls, which is a great place for photo ops. On the northeastern end of the lake, at the dam, visitors can enjoy views of Blood Mountain reflected on the water.
The whole trail is only 1 mile, dog-friendly, and is highly recommended if you’re looking for minimal effort with great sights along the way.
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Explore the Byron Herbert Reece Nature Trail
This quick .75-mile trail is another beginner hiker’s dream, with educational opportunities along the way making it a great intro to hiking for young children.
Informative placards featured intermittently along the trail encourage hikers to observe their surroundings and learn about the varied flora and fauna found within the park.
The trail loops through the edge of the wooded valley, crossing over small streams and rolling over gentle hills.
The trail’s short distance, moderate 170-foot elevation gain, and benches placed along the way make it very accessible for those seeking a gentle adventure.
Hiking Bear Hair Gap Trail
Another candidate for the best hikes in North Georgia, this trail features a rocky incline and lots of creek crossings over Burnett Branch. The reward at the top is a beautiful view across Lake Trahlyta and beyond from the Vogel Overlook.
The whole trail is approximately 4.1 miles through a forest of aged hardwoods, about half of which is uphill.
While there are a couple of small sections that are a little narrow and riddled with rocks and roots, it’s also gentle enough for less experienced hikers.
With an elevation gain of almost 1000 feet on the first half of the hike, you’ll be grateful for the view at the summit. It’s a stunning sight to soak in while you rest before descending the other side of the peak.
The average time for this intermediate-level hiking trail is about 2 to 3 hours.
Explore the Coosa Backcountry Trail
At 12.8 miles, with an elevation gain of 3,628 feet, this trail is no gentle morning stroll. The Coosa Backcountry Trail loop winds through the Chattahoochee National Forest and Blood Mountain Wilderness, offering spectacular views from Georgia’s 6th highest peak.
In the spring months the trail is littered with wildflowers and birdsong, while in the autumn it comes ablaze with vibrant fall foliage.
There are plenty of opportunities to take in the sweeping mountain views along the way, with the highlight being the 4,458-foot summit of Blood Mountain.
It’s not recommended to attempt this trail in one day because of a few stretches of extended steep incline. But there are backcountry camping sites located along the trail.
A permit is also required to hike the Coosa Trail, and can be picked up for free at the Vogel park Visitors Center.
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Visit the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum
The history of Vogel has been collected and meticulously catalogued by former CCC members. It’s now on display inside the park’s Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.
Visitors can look through many historic photographs, tools, and artifacts. Together, they show the countless hours of hard labor the young men of the CCC put into making Vogel one of the most beautiful state parks in Georgia.
Original records and letters to and from the CCC boys provide intimate glimpses into their lives as they built one of Georgia’s first state parks in the 1930s.
Also on display are the many photographs and journal entries of park visitors over the decades, which highlight what a treasure Vogel is to the many families that return year after year. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are gladly accepted.
Vogel State Park Camping & Cabins
Tent, Trailer & RV Camping
For those visitors interested in camping at Vogel State Park, there are 90 tent, trailer, and RV sites spread across the valley.
Wolf Creek flows through the middle of the park, offering the soothing sound of water gently rolling over rocks to the many creekside sites. Other sites offer peaceful wooded locations surrounded by soaring oak, hemlock, and pine trees.
Each campsite has a gravel pad which varies somewhat in size. But all offer electric and water hookups, a fire ring, and a picnic table.
RVers can choose from standard back-in or premium pull-through sites. Loop 4, located at the back of the park, is limited to 25-foot sites, which are suitable for tents and pop-up campers only.
Tent campers on these sites can expect to pay $30-34 a night, depending on the time of year and the type of site. RV fees range from $34-38 a night.
Walk-in and Pioneer Campsites
For those more interested in primitive camping, there are 18 walk-in campsites on their own loop within the park. These sites, which feature gravel pads with no electric or water hookups, are situated toward the back of the campground and generally enjoy a little more privacy.
There is parking near the area, but not at each individual campsite: The most secluded site is located about 300 yards from parking and the bath house. These sites cost $30 per night.
The Pioneer Site offers the most secluded and primitive Vogel State Park camping option, perfect for those seeking a backwoods setting. This site is for groups, with a minimum of 10 people and a maximum of 50.
The site boasts 2 Adirondack shelters (which sleep 10 people in each), 6 picnic tables, a pit toilet, a fire ring, and room for tents. It’s a short .3-mile hike across Wolf Creek to the very back of the park to get to this site, but it feels like the middle of nowhere. This site costs $55 per night.
Vogel State Park Cabins
There are a variety of options for Vogel State Park cabin rentals, ranging from basic “efficiency” one-room cottages to “premier” 3-bedroom cottages with balconies overlooking the park.
There are 35 Vogel cabins in total, but each varies slightly in size, amenities, location, and price.
The efficiency cottages are modest, with small kitchenettes, a mini refrigerator, and basic necessities. This is reflected in their prices, which range from $120 per night in the off-season to $130 during peak season (June through November).
The larger “premier” cabins sleep up to 10 people, with full kitchens and 2 bathrooms. These run $200 per night in the off-season, and $250 per night during peak season.
For those looking for a real taste of North Georgia mountains history, cabins 31-35 are the original log cabins built by the CCC boys in the 1930s, with renovations to the inside in 2018. Many of the “premier” cottages are currently undergoing renovation, and will be ready for visitors by spring 2020. –Rachael Seeley; lead image courtesy GAStateParks.org