Van Pugh Park

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Airborne over Lake Lanier
Rigging at Van Pugh
Van Pugh's launch. While the park faces some of Lake Lanier's best wind, the launch can be a bit tricky because of the surrounding trees.
Once on the water, things are much better. Barrett Walker and Scott Spreen just upwind of the park.
Launch at Van Pugh on warm, west wind

Windsurfing and Kiteboarding at Van Pugh Park

General Information

Van Pugh Park on Lake Lanier is the epicenter for Atlanta windsurfing, especially in the cool/cold weather season. An easy launch in west and northwest winds, Van Pugh attracts Atlanta's best windsurfers when its 5.5 and below. It's almost a mile straight across to Aqualand Marina so there is plenty of space for long runs.

Facilities include real toilets, picnic area with shelter and BBQs. At present there is a $4 entry fee or you can purchase an annual pass good for Lake Lanier Army Corps of Engineer parks.

Cautions: Van Pugh gets very crowded from May to August. Unless it's really windy or a weekday, go to Sunrise Cove or elsewhere in the summer. Also, this is not the best beginner spot especially on a westerly. You may get blown downwind to Chestnut Ridge Park which is a hike back and the swell and traffic make it somewhat annoying for beginning uphaulers (on the otherhand, you're more likely to get advice, both solicited and otherwise, here). Try Sunrise Cove for anything west and Tidwell Park and Vann's Tavern for east. Also, in the big fall winds, the further you go out, the harder it blows. Consult one of the local sailors for appropriate sail size.

One of our old newsletters has a nice article on Van Pugh and winter days: Lake Wind Advisory February 2000. See page 8.

Parking Update

(March 2013), There was some concern over windsurfer trailer parking at Van Pugh and whether it was restricted to the boat launch parking area. Gene Mathis was able to contact Ranger Chris Arthur, head Ranger for the Army Corps of Engineers that manage Lake Lanier. Ranger Arthur confirmed that our standard practice of parking along the curb and up the hill on the windsurfing side was permissible. We thank him and the USACE for their understanding and support for windsurfing and kiting.

This thread on our forum has more details.

Of course, always be considerate of other park users. The park gets very crowded in the summer months so plan your visit accordingly and consider using other parks if necessary.

Recommended Wind Directions

NW: yes | N: yes | NE: yes

W: yes | Wind center.png | E: yes

SW: yes | S: no | SE: yes

Northwest North Northeast
West Wind center.png East
Southwest South Southeast

Legacy Directions

50 min. N I-85 to N I-985 to Exit 8 (Friendship Rd & Lake Lanier Islands). Turn left at top of exit. Turn right on Atlanta Hwy. In about one mile turn left on Gaines Ferry Road. Go straight, you'll pass one light (McEver Rd). Keep on for another 1.5 m until road deadends in park. Bear right and drive around past boat ramp and picnic shelter.

Local Tips

To sail a Southeast wind, sail off the "back" of the park by the sandy beach and boat ramp.

Shaded area indicates better sailing area on west wind.


Intermediate Advanced

Wind Shadows

On a west wind, there can be a wind shadow extending up to a couple hundred meters offshore. You may have to uphaul or go further out on the point to get going. Also, don't judge the wind by just what it feels like on the beach. If the locals are telling you it's a lot stronger outside, it probably is.

The southwest wind shadow is pretty significant. Sunrise Cove may be a better alternative but you are more likely to have friends to sail with here as Van Pugh is the default destination.

Sailing Upwind

On a west wind, if you sail quite a bit upwind to a set of islands. the Three Sisters, west of Van Pugh and just NE of Lake Lanier Islands you may find a fresher breeze. It may blow as much as a sail size harder at times.


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Windsurfing Sites on Lake Lanier