The 11 Best State Parks in Georgia

Providence Canyon Park
Providence Canyon Park. SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

With nearly 50 state parks offering everything from dramatic gorges and whitewater rapids to multi-colored canyons, Georgia has some of the country's most mesmerizing scenery. Hike to tumbling waterfalls near the Tennessee border, summit craggy ridges in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or paddle along moss-draped marshlands near the coast at these 11 best state parks.

01 of 11

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Felipe Buccianti / Getty Images

For some of the state's best waterfalls, head to Cloudland Canyon State Park, located on the Cumberland Plateau on Lookout Mountain in the northwestern corner of Georgia. The 2-mile, out-and-back Waterfall Trail descends more than 400 feet into a deep gorge formed by Daniel Creek. With sections of gravel and a 600-step staircase, the arduous hike is worth it for views of two separate falls—Cherokee and Hemlock Falls—which plunge from 60 and 90 feet deep into the canyon below. Or try the scenic, 4.8-mile West Rim Loop, a rocky, moderate-to-difficult trail that rewards hikers with shady oak and maple forests, stellar views of the canyon and surrounding mountains, and thickets of blooming rhododendrons and mountain laurels in the spring. Camping, cottages, picnicking, swimming, and tennis courts are available, with exceptional caving nearby. 

122 Cloudland Canyon Park Rd, Rising Fawn, GA 30738-4324, USA
Phone +1 706-657-4050
02 of 11

Providence Canyon State Park

Providence Canyon State Park in Georgia

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Located near the Alabama border, this colorful state park is dubbed "Georgia's Little Grand Canyon." The Providence Canyon Outdoor Recreation Area has more than 10 miles of hiking trails, but the most popular (and scenic) is the Canyon Loop Trail, a 2.5-mile, moderately challenging hike that rings all nine of the park's canyons. Experienced backpackers seeking a challenge will want to tackle the 7-mile Backcountry Trail, a rugged and technically challenging hike that leads into dense forests and offers views of six of the park's canyons. Don't skip the small park museum, and if staying overnight, reserve one of the few pioneer or backcountry campsites in advance. Due to fragile soil, note that no walking is allowed on the canyon's floors or rims.

8930 Canyon Rd, Lumpkin, GA 31815, USA
Phone +1 229-838-6202
03 of 11

Skidaway Island State Park

Sunset at Skidaway Island

 Michael Dunn / EyeEm / Getty Images 

Just outside of historic Savannah, this tranquil park hugs the Skidaway narrows, part of Georgia's Intracoastal Waterway. Rent a bike, walk, or run through the 6-mile trail network, which winds through curtains of Spanish moss, pristine salt marshes, and dense maritime forests. Trails lead to an observation tower, where visitors can spot local wildlife like deer, egrets, fiddler crabs, and raccoons. A visitor center includes a 20-foot giant ground sloth replica and a reptile room.

For those wanting to spend the night, the park offers pioneer campgrounds and RV sites with sewer hookups. You can also book a camper cabin, which comes with a screened porch, kitchen, fire ring, grill, and picnic table.

52 Diamond Causeway, Savannah, GA 31411, USA
Phone +1 912-598-2300
04 of 11

Stephen C. Foster State Park

Okefenokee Swamp
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The stunning 80-acre Stephen C. Foster State Park in southeast Georgia is part of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, the continent's largest blackwater swamp and one of the state's seven national wonders. Paddle along 15 miles of water trails through cypress knees and low-hanging Spanish moss to spot local wildlife like bears, reptiles, birds, and over 12,000 alligators. The park also has hiking trails, archery, guided tours, and fishing access. Accommodations include cottages, tent and RV campsites, and an eco-lodge.

17515 GA-177, Fargo, GA 31631, USA
Phone +1 912-637-5274
Continue to 5 of 11 below.
05 of 11

Sweetwater Creek State Park

Sweetwater Creek State Park
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Located just 20 miles from downtown Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek State Park's 15 miles of trails make it popular with city dwellers looking for a quick escape. Take the first half of the mostly-flat, mile-long Red Trail⁠—the park's most traversed⁠—to see the ruins of a five-story, Civil War-era textile mill towering above the creek's rapids. The ruins may look familiar—they've been featured in movies like the "Hunger Games." For a more strenuous hike, try the Yellow Trail, a 3-mile loop that takes you across the river and deep into hardwood forests before descending into thickets of mountain laurels; eventually, a natural rock dam will give way to views of the ruins and rapids below. The park also has ranger-led hikes as well as an interactive on-site museum.

1750 Mt Vernon Rd, Lithia Springs, GA 30122, USA
Phone +1 770-732-5871
06 of 11

Amicalola Falls State Park

Amicalola Falls And Bridge
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With 10 separate hiking trails and 829 acres of lush scenery, Amicalola Falls State Park is one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the state. At 729 feet, the falls after which the park is named are the tallest in Georgia. For novice hikers, they're accessible via 600 stairs and a slightly steep quarter-mile hike from the parking lot. More experienced trekkers often opt for the Approach Trail, an 8.5-mile hike that begins in the park and ends at the southernmost point of the Appalachian Trail. The park also offers hour-long guided hikes, zip lines, 3-D archery, and animal meet-and-greets. Fuel up after your hike with dinner at the on-site Maple Restaurant for panoramic views of the falls and surrounding mountains.

418 Amicalola Falls State Park Rd, Dawsonville, GA 30534, USA
Phone +1 706-265-8888
07 of 11

Red Top Mountain State Park

Lake Allatoona at Red Top Mountain State Park
RobHainer / Getty Images

Located on Lake Allatoona just north of Atlanta, Red Top Mountain State Park is named for the soil's rich color, a result of its high iron-ore content. The 12,000-acre lake is a haven for city dwellers who drive up to boat, kayak, water ski, fish, swim, or relax on its sandy shores. But don't sleep on the park's 15 miles of trails, which include paved options for those using wheelchairs and strollers, and gravel hiking and cycling paths that wind through the forest canopy and the remnants of a mid-19th-century mining community. Stay overnight in rental cottages, a lakeside yurt, or the sprawling campground.

50 Lodge Rd SE, Acworth, GA 30102, USA
Phone +1 770-975-4226
08 of 11

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallulah Gorge State Park

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At 2 miles wide and nearly 1,000-feet deep, Tallulah Gorge in northeast Georgia is one of the most spectacular gorges in the Southeast. Of the park's more than 15 miles of hiking trails, the 3-mile North & South Rim path is the most popular; circling around the gorge, it includes several scenic overlooks that offer views of waterfalls and the Tallulah River. Adventurous hikers can book one of 100 daily passes to traverse the 2.5-mile, out-and-back Gorge Floor Trail, which travels down rocks and boulders and over a suspension bridge that sways 80 feet above the floor. For a gentler experience, take the Tallulah Gorge Shoreline Trail; a paved, relatively flat former rail trail that follows the banks of the Tallulah River, it's perfect for running, cycling, or hiking with small children.

During certain times of the year, kayakers may brave rapids produced when Georgia Power Co. opens its dam, releasing thunderous rapids through the canyon. The park also has an interpretive center with exhibits highlighting the area’s history, terrain, and unique ecosystem. Visitors interested in staying the night will find 50 tent, RV, and trailer campsites as well.

338 Jane Hurt Yarn Rd, Tallulah Falls, GA 30573, USA
Phone +1 706-754-7981
Continue to 9 of 11 below.
09 of 11

Vogel State Park

Trahlyta Falls In Vogel State Park In Georgia
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Tucked away in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Vogel State Park sits 2,500 feet above sea level at the base of Blood Mountain, Georgia's highest peak. A 4.3-mile, moderately difficult path from the Byron Reece trailhead takes you from a mossy valley to the mountain's craggy summit, which offers sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains below. The challenging, 13-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail climbs to the pinnacle of Duncan Ridge and connects to several other trails in the forest. In the summer, take advantage of beach access at the 22-acre lake to kayak, paddle, or swim. Year-round cottages, campsites, and primitive backpacking sites are available for overnight visitors. Note that while the park is popular in all seasons, it's particularly busy during peak leaf time; parking can be scarce, so plan to arrive early on weekends or try your hike on a less crowded weekday.

405 Vogel State Park Rd, Blairsville, GA 30512, USA
Phone +1 706-745-2628
10 of 11

Panola Mountain State Park

Sloping view from atop a large granite monadnock, Panola Mountain, Georgia USA, surrounding forest and blue sky
ottoblotto / Getty Images

Part of the 40,000-acre Arabia Mountain National Heritage Site, located just 30 miles east of Atlanta, this former quarry turned nature preserve features a large granite monadnock, dense forests, and hidden lakes. Hike, bike, or skate the 30-mile, multi-use Arabia Mountain Path, which passes both the historic T. A. Bryant House and Homestead and the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. The former preserves the Flat Rock Archives and other items detailing the history of the homestead's Black community, while the latter welcomes the public to visit its exhibit space, abbey, bookstore, and bonsai garden. The park also offers bouldering (permit only), bird watching, geocaching, archery, and ranger-led hikes showcasing Panola Mountain's rare plant and animal life.

2620 Georgia 155 SW, Stockbridge, GA 30281, USA
Phone +1 770-389-7801
11 of 11

F.D. Roosevelt State Park

panoramic Pine Mountain, Georgia landscape with clouds in blue sky
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Named after former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who retreated to the nearby warm spring to treat his polio, this state park is just 80 miles southwest of Atlanta. Spanning 9,049 acres, it has more than 40 miles of trails that travel through dense hardwood forests and towering pine trees, past tumbling waterfalls, and over bubbling creeks. For the best views, take the moderately paced Dowell's Knob Loop, a 4.3-mile path that loops through wildflowers and rocky forest for a sweet reward: panoramic views from the 1,395-foot summit, the former President's prized picnic spot.

2970 GA-190, Pine Mountain, GA 31822-2200, USA
Phone +1 706-663-4858
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The 11 Best State Parks in Georgia