Its funny how things happen sometimes. One of ConnieLou’s coworkers has taken an interest in hammocks recently and I’ve been trying to answer his questions and help him out. Unfortunately he doesn’t have any suitable trees in his backyard so he needs a good place to hang. We’ve both recently heard that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has installed hammock poles at the walk-in platform campsites at Chattahoochee Bend State Park, located just a few miles from where we live. We talked about taking a trip out there today so he could try out his hammock but as luck would have it, he already had plans and was not able to go. Ironically, there was a new thread on HammockForums yesterday about the Bend and the hammock poles started by one of the HammockForums members who was planning to stay there tonight as he traveled from Louisiana to North Carolina. I’ve been wanting to know more about them myself so I took the convergence as a sign that I needed to go take a look.
Chattahoochee Bend, which opened in June 2011, is one of Georgia’s newest state parks. Although Chattahoochee Bend is just 15 miles from our house it takes a little over 30 minutes to get there. The park is tucked back in the woods in a big bend in the Chattahoochee River (imagine that), away from the more developed parts of the county. The park encompasses almost 3,000 acres with nearly seven miles of river front. In addition to the platform sites there are drive-up campsites for tents and campers and Adirondack campsites (think AT shelters). There are several miles of hiking trails both along the river and in the uplands, picnic areas pavilions, a couple of playgrounds for the kids and a visitor’s center.
There are two platform camping areas at the Bend. The west platform camping area is located on the river near the main campground, day use parking lot and picnic area. The north platform camping area is located about 6 miles upriver and is reached by a hike up the River Trail or by paddling in. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit the north platforms so I took a look at the west platforms instead. I quickly discovered that the west platform campsites have their own little parking area and aren’t directly connected to day use parking and picnic areas – thats a good thing. The campsites are situated a short walk down a gravel trail on the river bank with some great views of the Hooch.
The platforms are spaced out nicely so that campers aren’t right on top of each other and, yes, hammock poles are indeed present at each platform. Unfortunately, they’re not perfect. The poles at each site are a good distance from each other for hammock camping (about 15 feet) but they’re only about 5 feet tall, measured from the top of the platform deck. Also, there’s no ready way to secure the tie outs of a tarp. Of course, one could get creative with some tent pegs or even a couple of wire coat hangers and solve that little problem. One last issue…the platforms will hold two to four small tents…but only one hammock. What essentially becomes a one-person campsite can become pretty pricy for a family or a group at $20 a night when up to 6 people can occupy the same site in tents or just sleeping under the stars. Fortunately there are plenty of suitable trees around.
I had a hammock with me with the intent to give one of the campsites a test drive but a light rain had begun to fall so I decided to pass and headed over to one of the picnic pavilions and fixed some red beans and rice for lunch. OK, no, I didn’t break out the camp kitchen and make red beans from scratch. Instead I rehydrated some that I made, dehydrated and froze last year from a recipe posted on Clark Thompson’s (aka Babelfish5’s) Hungry Hammock Hanger website.
After lunch I went to take a look at the Adirondack shelters. These shelters are similar to many of the AT shelters but are screened in the front to keep bugs and critters out.
Unfortunately the options for hanging inside are pretty limited. A couple of hammocks could be squeezed in but they’d be almost on top of each other and would limit access to the door.
To boil it all down from a hammock camper’s perspective, I give the GA DNR an A for effort and a B- for planning and execution with regard to the hammock poles and hammock options in the Adirondack shelters. Regardless, Chattahoochee Bend State Park is another place where hammock camping is not only allowed but is welcomed in Georgia.