Take a weekend backpacking trip to the Southern section of the Bartram Trail. This 27-mile trail is only 20 miles from Augusta and a majority of the hike borders the J. Strom Thurmond Lake. You’re in for a secluded and flat hike through lush pine forests.
This is not the Bartram Trail that runs through North Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, however it does follow the same explorer, William Bartram. This trail began Bartram’s journey in 1775, from Augusta through Columbia and Lincoln counties, and it merges with the Foothills Trail before continuing north. The Columbia County trail is about 20 miles west of Augusta in the recreation area for the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers (Savannah District).
The Bartram Trail isvery well marked with yellow blazes. From west to east:
-Keg Creek to Wildwood Park: 7.4 miles
-Wildwood Park to Petersburg Campground: 9 miles
-Petersburg Campgroundto Lake Springs Road: 3.8 miles
-Lake Springs Road to West Dam: 2.6 miles
To explore off-trail, Wildwood Park has a 2.4 mile section that ventures to the lake’s shores, and Lake Springs Recreation Area includes a 1.8 mile loop. At both of these loops, you will find ample picnic and public swimming areas.
What Makes It Great
Throughout the 27-mile hike, you’ll outline the edge of J. Strom Thurmond Lake. This 71,000 acre lake, also known as Clarks Hill Lake, is the 3rd largest lake east of the Mississippi. The reservoir borders Georgia and South Carolina in the Savannah River Basin. You are just steps from the water’s edge and the banks are low, sotake a dip in the turquoise lake.
The double-wide trail is entirely flat and laden with pine needles. Towering pines speckle shade along your path, so it makes for the optimal beginner backpacking trip- notmuch elevation or sun. Break up your weekend by hiking from Keg Creek to Wildwood Park. Then journey to Petersburg campground on day 2, and hike Lake Springs Road to West Dam on day 3.
Who is Going to Love It
The Bartram Trail is the closest opportunity for camping or backpacking to Augusta, Georgia, and it’s a 2 and a half hour drive east from Atlanta. It’s worth the journey- the trail is 27 miles long and much of the hike borders J. Strom Thurmond Lake. Take a weekend backpacking trip here for a secluded, and entirely flat, hike through lush pine forests.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
If you’re travelling from Augusta, follow Highway 28 to U.S. 221. After crossing the dam, the three parking lots and trailheads are spaced out along the right side of the road.
There are no parking fees throughout the J. Strom Thurmond Lake recreation area. From east to west you can access the Bartram Trail from West Dam Recreation Area, Lake Springs Recreation Area, Petersburg, or Wildwood Park.
The Petersburg Campground has 93 camping sites available: sites 1-27 are opened year-round and 28-93 are open from February to November. Site fees vary from $18 to $24 per night.
* It is mandatory to wear orange during hunting season from October to January.