Carters Lake is the deepest lake in Georgia, with a depth of over 450 feet and an average depth of 200 feet. The lake is approximately 3,200 acres and has 62 miles of shoreline. The Army Corp of Engineers owns Carters Lake, so this lake has no private residences on the shoreline. The lake’s dam is the highest earthen dam east of the Mississippi River and was completed in 1977.
The Coosawattee River which forms Carters Lake was at one time revered as having the best whitewater in the southeast. In fact, it is the river that inspired, Tom Dickey’s novel Deliverance, which was later adapted into a screenplay and made into a movie.
This is a young, beautiful lake and fortunately not very popular. Though there are no private residences on the lake, there is a marina and a few campgrounds. From what we saw, the private campgrounds are more geared toward R/V use. We stayed in the boat in/Hike in primitive camping area on the north side of the lake, east of the dam.
The boat in primitive campground was our destination for this trip (you can also hike in). We chose to launch our kayaks from the public boat ramp near Woodring Branch Campground. There is a fee of five dollars per day for day use and camping. We stopped and paid our fee and off to the boat ramp we went. We saw some Mexican guys fishing there and gave them some advice about buying kayaks. The guy I was talking to said that he “needs to make a white friend because we are crazy.” Apparently, his buddy couldn’t swim and was afraid of the water. After a little more banter we got our kayaks packed with our gear, loaded up the dogs and launched the boats.
It was a nice and peaceful 1.5-mile paddle across the lake to the peninsula where the campground was. There were some power boats out on the lake and some other kayakers as well, but not an overwhelming amount of traffic.
We landed the kayaks at the first spot that we saw and explored the campground for possible sites. As it turns out, the one we landed at was the one most suited for us. There was one other person camping at the campground, and they were on the opposite side of the peninsula.
The campground here is very well kept and has twelve sites with great amenities. Each site is lakeside and has a lantern post, grill, picnic table, fire ring, tent pad and a trash can. There are also two outhouses stocked with toilet paper. Marcie and I refer to this as luxury camping. (we do a lot of backpacking) However, it was a challenge finding a spot to hang our hammocks side by side, but we made it work. If you don’t need to be side by side, disregard the last sentence.
This is a great place to get away if you have a kayak or canoe. You can also hike two miles into the campground on the Amadahy LoopTrail. I don’t know how much traffic this campground gets on the weekends because we got there on a Sunday afternoon. When we were checking out the other campsites, only a few looked like they had been used recently. Being that the only way in other than boat is a two-mile hike, I imagine that limits the number of visitors this place sees. It probably also helped that the kids were already back in school when we took this trip in late September.
Just A Nice Relaxing Place
If I had three thumbs, they would all be pointing up for Carters Lake Boat-In Campground. As I mentioned earlier, there was some traffic on the lake, but nothing obnoxious. Just people out fishing on pontoon boats and pulling the kids around on those things you pull kids on behind boats. We talked to some other kayakers who passed by about the campsites. They were in awe of the setup as well and said that they were definitely coming back to do their own little camping trip there.
Like most campgrounds, the availability of firewood was pretty lacking close to the campsites. I had to get in the kayak and paddle across the cove outside of the camping area to find some. The trip wasn’t long, just far enough away from where most people are willing to walk to gather firewood. Once I landed the kayak and got on the trail, (which is actually a service road) I didn’t even need to leave the path to find some suitable wood to cook our dinner. It did require a little sawing and chopping with my tomahawk and manual chainsaw to be able to load it into the kayak, but it wasn’t too much work. If you have the right tools, it really doesn’t take much wood to make a nice cooking fire.
After splitting the wood I had gathered, it was time to light the fire and make some dinner. Our camp dinner that night was Johnsonville cheddar and jalapeno sausages cooked over open flames. We brought some Bush’s honey beans as well, but after three sausages a piece, we had no room left for the beans.
Rest and Relaxation
By the time dinner was done and cleaning up, it was time for some serious relaxation. The time had come to lay in our hammocks and take in the sounds of Carters Lake along with some audio files from our phones.
The lake was pretty peaceful, although, there were a few boats out and I heard some music coming from the marina. The music wasn’t really loud and if I recall correctly, it was classic rock, and it stopped when I turned our lantern off. I’m guessing that whoever was playing the music was aware that we were out there camping and respected that we were trying to enjoy some quiet time.
While I was laying there in my hammock I could hear the occasional fish breaking the surface of the water. The splashes were pretty loud, so I imagine they were some pretty big fish. I just laid there and listened to the ripple of the water and occasional bird singing and eventually drifted off to sleep to the peace and quiet of the night.
A New Day
We slept in until about eight and rolled out of our hammocks to get the coffee going. I brought the percolator with me, so we actually got to have real coffee on this trip. We usually have to settle for instant on our backpacking trip. It gets the job done, but it tastes like, well, you know what it tastes like. After getting thoroughly caffeinated, I worked up an appetite by splitting a little more wood, so we could cook our breakfast.
For breakfast, I started a fire on the grill with the little bit of wood that I gathered the day before and split that morning. I got some good coals going and it was time to cook. The menu consisted of some chorizo, black beans, eggs, Mexican melting cheese, and tortillas. We love breakfast burritos!
While cooking breakfast I heard a motorized vehicle and saw that it was the maintenance crew on their Gator. They came by and emptied the trash and we spoke with them for a few minutes. They told us that they come out twice a week on Monday and Thursday to empty the trash, clean up and restock the outhouses.
After breakfast, we cleaned the dishes and, Marcie decided to do a little lounging in her hammock. While she was enjoying her relaxation time, I decided to practice a little tree identification with my Peterson Field Guide on eastern trees.
Unfortunately, the time came to pack up and leave our little paradise. We got everything packed up onto our boats and said goodbye to the campground. The paddle back to the boat ramp was super peaceful and there was almost nobody on Carters Lake that day. Hagrid even decided that he was going to walk the plank and take a dip.
Carters Lake is a great place to kick back and relax for a short overnight, weekend, or even a week. The primitive campground is open year round and with a fee of only $5 per day to park, you just can’t beat this place.
You can pack plenty of supplies into a kayak or canoe to make your stay as comfortable as you want. If you don’t have a boat, the two-mile hike makes it pretty easy to access for backpacking as well. Since the trail in is really a service road, I imagine that if you had one of those wagons with the big off-road tires, you could bring a lot more gear. (just a thought)
Carters Lake is pristine and is known for its clear blue water. If you are looking for a place to have a nice relaxing, low maintenance camping trip, this is the place to do it. Just don’t forget to bring your water filter because just about the only amenity this campground doesn’t have is running water.
So get out there and enjoy one of Georgia’s best-kept secrets and remember to leave this place cleaner than you found it, your kids will thank you one day. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to use the comment box below, or shoot us an email.
Thanks for reading.
Click the pins for directions.
The top pin is directions to hike in.
The bottom pin will take you to boat in.
The directions will get you to Woodring Campground. Pass Woodring and follow the signs to the boat ramp.