The eastern edge of the Okefenokee Swamp has two entrances, as opposed to the single entrance on the western side. But unlike the western entrance, which has the beautiful and convenient Stephen C Foster State Park, the eastern entrances have no overnight camping within the refuge boundaries. But a nearby alternative is available, and still within close proximity to the two eastern Okefenokee entrances, the northern Okefenokee Swamp Park.
The Laura S Walker State Park is located northwest of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. From there, it is just a 10 mile drive to the private Okefenokee Swamp Park. It is a mere 30-minute drive (21 miles) to the Kingfisher Landing canoe launch into the Refuge, or 45 minutes to the main visitor entrance at the Suwannee Canal Recreation Area, where much of the refuge’s visitor activities take place.
The Laura S Walker State Park is run by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. As with all the wonderful state parks in Georgia, this small park is clean, secure, affordable and picturesque. There are 44 available camping spaces, complete with electric, water and a nearby comfort stations. The campground loop was fairly small, and there wasn’t much screening between sites, but it doesn’t have an ‘overcrowded’ feeling. Instead, the small village of RV’s and tents felt much more like and extended family reunion, as all the campers were cordial willing to wave or chat.
There is a small lake which can be partially explored by trail and boardwalk along the Lake Trail (1.2 miles), or completely circumnavigated if one is willing to walk a portion along the roadway and dams. There are also about 2.5 miles of trails across the road from the park. These trails give hikers a perfect, on-foot, taste of the swamp and upland habitat found throughout the swampy southeast, where much of this habitat can normally only be explored by canoe or kayak.
In all, the Laura S Walker State Park is a great base camp for excursions into the eastern entrances to the Okefenokee Swamp. It is also a fitting tribute to its namesake, a local teacher, writer and conservationist from the nearby town of Waycross.