There are forty-five state parks in Georgia that offer the public a wide-range of options when it comes to getting outside to experience Mother Nature up close. The park system provides an inexpensive way to get away and enjoy the unique natural resources Georgia has to offer. And the amenities at some parks can rival those found at some of the best resorts.
For those of us who have visited many of these parks, it’s hard to whittle down the list of personal favorites. But that won’t stop us from trying.
Georgia has the highest concentration of parks in the northern region of the state and three distinguish themselves as places to go for beautiful views and spectacular hiking.
Cloudland Canyon State Park located in northwest Georgia on the western edge of Lookout Mountain offers an incredible view of a gorge cut into the mountain by Sitton Gulch Creek. This overlook is found across from the picnic area in the park and can be driven to. For those who prefer to hike, there is a challenging 4.8 mile West Rim Trail and 2 mile backcountry trail. A section of the West Rim Trail offers two spectacular views of natural waterfalls at the bottom of the gorge. During the fall, the abundance of hardwood trees blankets the park in color. There are 73 tent and RV sites available and many are large enough to accommodate fifth wheel trailers and class A motorhomes. If you don’t own an RV or prefer a vacation home feel, there are 16 fully equipped cottages. This is the perfect mountain getaway for active families and couples who enjoy the outdoors.
Black Rock Mountain State Park located in northeast Georgia is the highest state park in Georgia with an elevation of 3,640 feet. The park offers beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the outdoor person will enjoy the 11 miles of mountain hiking trails and nearby whitewater rafting on the Chattooga River. In the park, there is a small lake for fishing and for those who prefer golfing there are several public courses in Sky Valley and Cashiers, North Carolina. For the shopper, there are plenty of antique and local shops in Rabun County. The park offers 48 tent and RV sites and 10 cottages. The camping sites are somewhat narrow as they are located on top of the mountain and you will pull a steep grade as you ascend into the park so make sure your vehicle and brakes are in tip-top shape.
For something a little more luxurious, there is Amicalola Falls State Park. One of Georgia’s most popular state parks located in Dawsonville, Georgia. Amicalola Falls offers views of the 729-foot falls and numerous hiking trails around the park. For those who prefer more hotel-like accommodations, the park offers a 57-room lodge and conference center. There is also a remote 20-room inn that is “hike in” only. Also available are 24 tent and RV sites and 14 cottages. The park and surrounding area also attract many cyclists and for those who prefer to shop and explore, historic Dahlonega is a short drive away.
About twenty miles south of Dublin, Georgia in the town of Helena, you’ll find Little Ocmulgee State Park. Known to many as “little O” this park is perfect for a family getaway or the golf enthusiast. There is a 265-acre lake with a beach, canoe and pedal rentals, bike rentals, a swimming pool, volleyball courts and miniature golf. If that wasn’t enough the park also includes an 18-hole Wallace Adams designed course. With green fees and cart included at less than $50 it makes the course irresistible for even the causal player. There are 55 tent and RV sites, 10 cottages and a 60-room lodge and conference center.
For more information visit www.gastateparks.org or call 1-800-864-7275.
By Chris Bigda
As a child Chris Bigda spent many vacations in various state and national parks. To thank his parents he continues the practice with his own family.