Hard Labor Creek State Park

2 Hours at Hard Labor map
From Hard Labor Creek

As I have said before, Georgia has a lot of really terrific state parks. Probably the least invitingly named one of these is the curiously named Hard Labor Creek State Park. Don’t let the name scare you, I’ve spent a few days within its confines and the most work I had to do was to tote a satchel. But the odd name may be one of the reasons it is so quiet, as it is bearly over an hour East of Atlanta out I-20.

The area was named before the State Park was built and either comes from one of two stories about it being difficult in that area. One legend says that Slaves worked extra hard on clearing the area as it was too rocky, the other says that Indians gave it that name due to the difficulty of crossing the creek in wet weather. Either way, the work for you has been done.

The area is probably best known for its Golf Course, but I don’t talk much about golfing. It does have two hiking trails that intersect to give you about 2.1 miles of marked hiking trail (Trail Guides) to walk through. The Trail head begins back behind the trading post off to the right of an open picnic area. The first trail is called the Beaver Pond Trail which is marked with red blazes and the second is the Lake Brantley Trail marked with Yellow blazes. Each runs about a mile but can be connected to form a 2 mile loop. You cross bridges and see boulders and move through ravines, the stuff that you’d expect. There’s enough up and down to get your heart running a little. It’s supposed to be especially good for the bird watchers and plant lovers, but that is not my strong suit, so I won’t be the judge.

I’ve marked the full trail at three miles, although the state maps end at 2.1, because no trip to the park would be complete without a thorough inspection of the lake. Upon completing the trail, cross the parking lot and you can move along the edge of the lake pretty easily, though there is no marked trail.
After a slightly wet foot crossing continue left to reach the goal of the street, here you get a nice view of the water running off the lake under Fairplay road. After crossing the street, there are some ruins of what looks like a stone toll booth and some nice moving water. You can continue up the creek about a third of a mile. If you continue around the lake, you will be adding some distance to your hike and will be moving through the campground areas.

Georgia state parks have a lot to offer, Hard Labor Creek is no exception to the rule. This park is simple, serene, and a nice way to spend a few hours. On this trip, because it is so close to Social Circle, we usually stop at the Blue Willow Inn for some food, being one of the finest Southern Eateries we know. As a matter of fact, we usually do the food first and let the pleasant time spent at Hard Labor help burn off the calories and aid digestion.

Trail Essentials
Approximate Time: 1.5 – 2 Hours
Approximate Distance: 3 miles
Features: Ravines, Lake Views, Riverside Walk, Minor Ruins
Overall Rating: B+

Scenic Quality: B
Athleticism: B
Solitude: A
Value: B+
Parking: State Park Parking Fee ($5)
Hours of Operation: 7am-10pm
Facilities: In Parking Area
Maps: none, well blazed except around the lake
County: Morgan County

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