Even though both the name and history of Hard Labor Creek State Park sounds harsh, the Georgia State Park offers beautiful trails with diverse landscape and truly encompasses the concept of a diamond in the rough. When we first heard the name Hard Labor, we assumed it was an old battlefield where it was hard and many lives were lost or an old homestead that showed how hard life was for those living off the land. In reality, the park was named after the creek, Hard Labor Creek, which is believed to be derived from two very different stories. The first belief behind the name is that Native Americans found the creek hard to ford. The second origin for the State Park’s name is for years the land that now makes up the park was used for slave labor farming the land. Neither name reflects the beautiful landscape and fun activities that the State Park offers, making it a great place to visit.
The park is located about a hour Southwest of Atlanta in a small town called Rutledge, GA that has a sweet and quaint little downtown consisting of only a few stores, including a train caboose that serves sandwiches and beverages. Hard Labor Creek is comprised primarily of biking and horse back riding trails, but does also offer a few short hiking rails. The park itself has a wide range of opportunities for horse back riding and even has stables on site. We were also told by the ranger that the biking trails were available for hiking as well, providing new hiking opportunities for those visiting. The State Park is also well known for it’s golf course, but other activities for visitors include camping, geocaching, fishing, swimming, small boat rentals, and cottages to stay in. The park offers a lot for visitors with different interests to pick and choose, but there is a $5.00 parking charge for everyone.
Even though we had the option of hiking along the bike trails, we decided to slowly just hike the two short trails that are actually connected, making it easy to turn it into one hike all together, and are only about 2.6 miles long total. The hike was probably one of our favorites thus far in Georgia. The path was cushioned by pine needles and consisted of gradual hills. The topography changes as you hike down to the pond, making for an interesting change in scenery. Along the way you follow a creek for the majority of the hike that eventually becomes bigger and flows into the pond. We were the only people on the entire trail as far as we could see in any direction, making for a very peaceful and serene hike. Although we aren’t sure, we may have found a beaver home and were on the lookout the entire time-so be sure to keep your eyes peeled as well! Throughout the park there were many trees down and we aren’t sure why, but overall even with the strange deforestation, we enjoyed the hiking trail with the hills, creek, pond, and wildlife. Hard Labor Creek State Park definitely surprised us in the best possible way and made for a great little Saturday hike.