Accessible from Macon, Forsyth, and anyone traveling along this part of I-75 are three Georgia state parks: Jarrell Plantation, High Falls, and Indian Springs. These sites are ideal locales as daytrips for Middle Georgians; an enjoyable alternative to the usual rest stop for road trippers; and an overnight camping destination for those seeking a close-up experience with nature.
Jarrell Plantation Historic Site was maintained by the family of John Fitz Jarrell, slaves, and former slaves. Mr. Farrell built the original home in 1847. By 1860, the plantation had grown to 600 acres farmed by 39 slaves. Spared during General Sherman’s 1864 “March to the Sea,” the site grew to 1,000 acres after the Civil War. As the farm expanded, other facilities were added, including a sawmill, cotton gin, and syrup evaporator. Descendants of the Jarrell family donated the buildings to the state of Georgia in 1974 to establish today’s historic site.
Today the site offers a museum and film documenting the history of the plantation; access to the plantation’s buildings; a gift shop; and picnic area. Special events and activities let visitors step back in time to learn about 19th-century life through storytelling, period reenactments, and live demonstrations.
Nearby High Falls State Park is close to I-75 and offers picnicking and camping facilities. In addition to leisurely pursuits such as fishing and canoeing, hiking and geocaching are popular ways to stretch, exercise, and breathe fresh air while visiting or passing through the area. The park’s scenic waterfall can’t be missed.
High Falls was once home to an industrial town in the in early 1800s. The town included stores, a grist mill, blacksmith shop, shoe factory, and hotel. When a major railroad line bypassed the town toward the end of the century, High Falls quickly became a ghost town. The remnants of the grist mill remain today.
Indian Springs State Park is said to be the oldest state park in the nation. The springs here – from which water can be sampled today – were used by Creek Indians for centuries to heal the sick. The land was acquired by Georgia in 1825 and established as an official park in 1927. The park’s seasonally-operated museum tells the history of the area, Creek Indians, its resort era, and the Civilian Conservation Corps’ involvement in the park’s early years.
Picnicking, boating, swimming in Lake McIntosh, and geocaching are some of the activities possible at Indian Springs. The park also includes camping for tents, trailers, and RVs as well as cottages for families (two of which are dog-friendly).
Georgia State Parks maintains information about each of its state parks online, with a page dedicated to each park. Location, hours of operation, and facilities reservation may be found at www.gastateparks.org.