Dockery Lake Recreation Area is a great place to spend a day, get some exercise, and enjoy some mountain scenery, and it is only 1¼ hours from I-285. Located north of Dahlonega, Dockery Lake is a 6 acre mountain lake located in the Chattahoochee National Forest. A one-half mile trail circles the lake; it is a nice level trail that is perfect for small children. A covered picnic area is located next to the parking lot, and their are numerous places to picnic around the lake. There is a campground which is only open during the warm months.
Another trail, the Dockery Lake Trail, begins at the back of the parking lot, and continues 3.4 miles until it meets the Appalachian Trail at Miller Gap. This trail can be fairly strenuous at times, with a lot of uphill portions, but it is nothing you can’t handle if you are in any kind of shape.
At the start, the trail travels uphill for about ¼ mile, then turns downhill for about ¾ of a mile into a valley, giving up all the elevation you had just gained and then some. Almost as soon as it stops descending, the trail starts uphill again, beginning the climb to Miller Gap. The next mile and a half is all uphill, some parts steeper than others, until you reach an old roadbed. The last ½ mile is fairly level to the AT.
Much of this trail follows small streams and brooks with lots of cascades to draw your attention. The view from the ridge into the valley below is impressive, and watching hawks circling effortlessly on thermals, while your lungs heave from the climb, can bring a flash of jealousy.
As with many recreation areas, the Dockery Lake entrance road may be closed in the winter. If it is, you can park by the gate and walk in. The road to the lake is one mile long. This may affect the amount of hiking you can do, but if you like to get up and go in the morning, you have time to do whatever you want here. To get to Dockery Lake, take GA 400 north to Dahlonega, then take US 19/GA 60 north. When the two roads split, take GA 60 north for 3.5 miles to the Dockery Lake entrance. There is a sign on the left, the road, FS 654, is on the right.