Cottages at Smithgall Woods State Park

White County, Georgia

Inns, Lodges, Resorts

Featured photo courtesy of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Division

Janaury 2023

Mention state park cottages and usually “rustic” is the word that comes to mind. While the cottages at Smithgall Woods State Park in the Georgia highlands give that appearance on the outside, the inside offers a bait-and-switch that you are going to like!

Situated in the northern portion of this 5,664-acre park, the cottages at Smithgall Woods offer tasteful, deluxe interiors. The six cottages in this elegant mountain retreat host everything from fishing trips to romantic getaways and family reunions to wedding parties. For anglers, the bonus is access to outstanding trout fishing on Dukes Creek that winds through the cottage compound. This stream has been listed among Trout Unlimited’s top 100 waters in the nation.

Creekside, Smithgall, Dover, Parkside, Garden and Laurel Cottages comprise a total of 17 bedrooms equipped with telephones and televisions. Some of those have porches overlooking the creek, while others feature private hot tubs.

The park lands were once the site of hydraulic gold mining in the 19th century, which left the valley scarred and hillsides barren of vegetation. That all changed over time, as Mother Nature healed the wounds. Then, when conservationist and business man Charles Smithgall began piecing together the property that now holds the park, the recovery accelerated. After returning it to a natural condition, in 1994 the Smithgall family sold the land to the state of Georgia at a greatly reduced price in a gift-purchase arrangement.

Should you get tired of lounging on the porch, listening to the gurgling waters of Dukes Creek, the park offers plenty of options for stretching your legs. Besides the fishing, Smithgall Woods contains an archery range, 18-miles of roads for biking and 5 miles of hiking trails fringed with spring and fall wildflowers. Additionally, a 1-mile hiking path leads from the cottage compound out of the park to the adjacent cascades of the federally-managed Dukes Creek Falls Recreation Area  Other activities within the park are birdwatching, geocaching and nature photography.

Photos by Polly Dean.

Although the cottages have full kitchens, with cooking utensils and complete sets of dinnerware and wine glasses, the eateries of the nearby Alpine-themed tourist destination of Helen provide lots of dining options as well.

After experiencing a getaway at the cottages of Smithgall Woods State Park, future references to state park cottages are more likely to bring to mind elegance, rather than rustic.

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