Frequently Asked Questions

Smithgall Woods Entrance

Is Smithgall Woods open to the public?
Yes! The park is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. most days. We are closed on Christmas Day. Automobile access is limited to the Visitor’s Center. Hiking and biking are available throughout the year except for scheduled hunting days.

Does it cost anything to visit the park?
A $5 daily park pass or an annual State Parks pass or annual Friends of Georgia State Parks pass is required for each vehicle.

What is available at the park?
Five upscale cottages with trails and sustainable garden, hiking and biking trails, fishing, public educational events, school program, educational gardens, Education Cabin, hawk exhibit, Discovery Room, picnic shelters, group camps.

Can I drive up to the cottages?
Please ask at the Visitor’s Center about access information.

What are the rates?
Brochures and pictures are available at the Visitor’s Center. Costs and availability vary throughout the year. Visit the Georgia State Parks website for information on availability and rates.

Can I enter through the gate on Highway 75?
No. The entrance to the park is on Alternate 75, 2.6 miles south of Hwy. 75 in Helen and 5.6 miles north of Highway 129.

How do I access hiking trails?
Two of our trails begin at the Visitor Center. Otherwise, hiking trails are accessible by walking or biking to trail heads. Hiking information is available at the Visitor Center.

Can I ride my bike on hiking trails?
No, just on roadways.

Who is Smithgall Woods named after?
Charles A. Smithgall, Jr., a noted Conservationist and businessman acquired the land that makes up the park through 81 land transactions, primarily in the 1980s. In 1994, the state acquired the land from the Smithgall family as a gift-purchase for half its appraised value.

How big is Smithgall Woods?
5,664 acres

How is this Conservation Area managed?
The Department of Natural Resources manages the Conservation Area to protect the existing landscape, to offer environmental research and education, to maintain wildlife diversity, and to offer low intensity recreational opportunities in keeping with the other management goals. The state has dedicated the property as a Heritage Preserve to ensure that these uses will continue unchanged.

What is the elevation of the park?
It varies from 1,560 to 2,421 ft.

What kinds of fish are in the ponds and streams?
Catfish, bass, and bream are stocked in the ponds. Rainbow, brown and native brook trout are in Dukes Creek.

What programs are available?
Public program information is available online through Georgia State Parks, through e-mail updates, and a printed Calendar of Events. Programs for groups, cottage, and camping guests are also available. For information on these programs, contact Sarah Kelehear or Kathy Church. See the Smithgall Woods Regional Education Center brochure for school field trip and outreach options. These are reserved through Wildlife Interpretive Specialist, Kathy Church. Call the park at 706-878-3087 to speak to either Sarah or Kathy.

How can I find out more about the hiking trails?
There are trail descriptions and a map available at the Visitor Center. There is also a description of local waterfall trails available.

Trout Fishing Questions:

When can I fish?
Public fishing is available on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays with 15 anglers allowed per session. From October through February there is one session per day. From March through September morning (7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) and afternoon sessions (1:30 –6:30 p.m.) are usually available. Cottage guests have fishing privileges during their entire stay (in the cottage area).

Do I have to make a reservation to fish?
Yes! Reservations are made ahead of time.

What are the regulations for trout fishing?
Fishing is catch and release with artificial lures and barbless hooks only. Anglers must have a valid Georgia fishing license and a trout stamp.

© 2011 Friends of Smithgall Woods