Photo courtesy of Bill Vanderford
Nestled between Georgia’s second-largest state park and miles of refreshing shoreline in Georgia’s Lake Country, you’re never far from connecting with the great outdoors in Madison and Morgan County.
Whether you enjoy your morning drive through scenic byways edging pristine farmland or off the First Tee at The Creek Golf Course at Hard Labor, visitors find peace strolling the historic downtown, discovering miles of hiking trails at Hard Labor Creek State Park, fishing at one of three sparkling lakes, and so much more.
Not sure how to fit it all in? We’ve made it easy for you.
3-Day Itinerary for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Spend the Morning in Georgia’s Second Largest State Park
Start your day immersed in nature. With 5,804 acres, Hard Labor Creek State Park, is located just 15 minutes west of downtown Madison in the quaint town of Rutledge.
With not one but two lakes, spend the morning fishing on Lake Brantley or head over to the sand beach of Lake Rutledge for swimming or boating in one of the rentable canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats.
If golf is your idea of an outdoor adventure, The Creek Golf Course at Hard Labor is a fun yet challenging 18-hole course set in a serene and natural setting. Still yet, there are hiking and biking trails, an 18-hole mini-golf course, playground, camping and cabins, and much more for the adventure traveler.
Discover Scenic Morgan County by Bike
Grab lunch from The Caboose in downtown Rutledge and spend your afternoon exploring the scenic countryside through Madison-Morgan Meander, a self-guided map of cycle-friendly routes past farms, historic schoolhouses, favorite film sites and other great finds.
Stop along the way to learn about area historic sites, take in the bucolic beauty of the region, and get to know area farmers who continue Georgia’s agricultural traditions growing fresh, healthy products at stops like Rock House Farm & Creamery. As farming is seasonal, be sure to call ahead to verify the farm you’re interested in visiting is accepting guests.
Jump in the Saddle at Southern Cross Guest Ranch
Southern Cross Guest Ranch has been called by Travel+Leisure one of “America’s Best Dude Ranches.” Home to well over 150 Paint & Quarter horses, day visitors and guests at the Ranch’s 17-room inn are invited to join guided or unguided horseback rides on the picturesque trails through forest and pasture.
Back at the inn, guests enjoy swimming, fishing, bike riding, or simply relaxing on the farm. The ranch’s highly trained chef and kitchen staff also serve a variety of meals including international cuisines and local favorites for lunch, dinner, and special events.
Shop Local at Farmview Market
Opened in 2016, this 10,000 square foot market and restaurant was built with reclaimed wood from two barns dating back to the late 1700s.
Featuring a specialty grocery store, butcher shop, and farm-to-table café, Farmview Market focuses on locally-sourced products, supporting Georgia Grown farms and businesses. Catch the seasonal outdoor farmers markets on Saturdays in the spring, summer, and fall.
Revel in Georgia’s Lake Country
Ready to get on the water? As part of Georgia’s Lake Country, Morgan County has 89 miles of shoreline along Lake Oconee and the Apalachee River.
Bring your boat for an afternoon on the lake or book a guided fishing trip with a local expert. If you prefer to relax by the water, Hard Labor Creek State Park features a public sand beach along tranquil Lake Rutledge.
Go Hunting at Burnt Pine Plantation
Get an early start on your hunting trip at Burnt Pine Plantation. Sitting on more than 4,500 acres of meticulously managed land for hunting quail, deer, and turkey, Burnt Pine also offers pheasant and dove hunting as well as fishing.
This sprawling estate is home to a 28-bed lodge and conference center, an ideal location for getaways and leaving the hustle and bustle behind.
Roam Madison’s Historic District
After a morning of adventure, head back to downtown Madison to enjoy a meal outside at one of the many restaurant patios or take it to go to enjoy at one of Madison’s best picnic spots.
Savor fresh fare as you watch small town life happening all around you. Afterwards, stroll Madison’s Historic District with the self-guided walking tour and soak in the historic charm of the city. Wander through Madison’s tranquil parks and gardens that have stories to tell of their own.
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Insider Tips on a Great Escape at Georgia’s Second Largest State Park An interview with Hard Labor Creek State Park Campground Host, Sue Pannell Ready …