12 Must-Visit and Popular State Parks In Georgia (2022)
Do you wish hiking through a Spanish mosh-covered forest and reaching the waterfall shower for bliss? If yes, the State Parks of Georgia should be on your list. Georgia is home to nearly 50 State Parks, all well preserved and open for visitors. There are some truly magnificent hills, impressive rock formations, waterfalls, forests, wildlife, wildflowers, ancient structures, and miles of trails. Every time you will visit a State Park in Georgia, you will never face a dull moment here.
Georgia has been operating its State Board of Forestry since 1931. The State parks here have been a popular mode of attraction for 90 years for both natural beauty and historical integrity. The Georgian State parks attract and host nearly 10 to 11 million visitors annually. Visitors keep choosing these destinations for an ideal vacation, not just from the state but also from the West across. But, why don’t you be one of them? If nature and its wonders excite you, then do visit these Best Georgia State Parks.
12 Must-Visit and Popular State Parks in Georgia
We hope the list below will help you in finding a suitable one. Have a look:
1. Black Rock Mountain State Park
With an altitude of 3,650 feet, Black Rock Mountain is the highest State Park in Georgia. The state park stands tall on the Eastern Continental Divide and offers outstanding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains year-round. It covered 1,743-acre and got its name after the black biotite gneiss cliffs. Standing atop these cliffs, one can grab 80 miles-long views of North and South Carolina and Tennessee. The State Park is home to five main hiking trails. The most happening amongst them is the 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail that meanders through the highest forests opening exceptional views. The park also features 17 acres of lake, a few small waterfalls, a pioneer campground, backcountry campsites, walk-up campsites, RVing sites, and a visitors’ center. Fishing is one of the loved and admired activities here.
NOTE: The Black Rock Mountain State Park stays closed seasonally between mid-December and mid-March.
2. Red Top Mountain State Park
One of the most-visit State Park in Georgia, the Red Top Mountain State Park is magnificent indeed. The park got its name after the iron-ore-rich red soils in its region. One can observe the reddish hue that comes from its soil’s high iron-ore content. The State Park is also known for having the shores of the 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona. It is the closest major lake to Atlanta city and offers direct access to cool and clear water. Individuals enjoy water-based activities, including swimming, boating, water skiing, kayaking, fishing, and more. One can either bring a private craft or rent from any of the marinas. The beach setting across Allatoona also offers individuals to sunbathe or indulge in sand games.
Besides, Lake Allatoona also boasts 19 miles of hiking and biking trails, 20 cottages, 93 tents, trailers, RV campsites, and lakeside yurts. It also preserves the site of a seminal American Civil War battle close to the Allatoona Pass Battlefield.
3. A.H. Stephens Historic State Park
Best known for its equestrian facilities, the A.H. Stephens Historic State Park is a must-visit in Georgia. After Alexander Hamilton Stephens, former Georgia governor and Confederate vice president, the park got its name. Individuals can easily access the park from Augusta via Interstate 20. A visit here introduces individuals to the Confederate-focused Museum that features the most comprehensive collections of Civil War artifacts in Georgia. Next is the National Historic Landmark Liberty Hall, which was once Alexander Hamilton Stephens’ home. The book library and Stephen’s gravesite are what enthusiasts often choose to visit. Besides the prominent historic landmarks, the State Park also boasts 21 miles of bridle trails offering excellent hiking and horse-riding opportunities. The multiple mill ponds preserved here also call for fishing and boating opportunities. Or stay overnight at the lakeside campgrounds.
4. Amicalola Falls State Park
Undoubtedly the most popular state park in Georgia, Amicalola Falls State Park, is a must-visit. The park is home to some of the best features of Georgia. The list may include 729 feet tall Amicalola Falls (the obvious) and the New Appalachian Approach Trail. The State Park in itself is a part of the larger Chattahoochee National Forest and is just eight miles away from the southern end of the popular Appalachian Trail. The blessing of nature grants Amicalola Park an abundance of breathtaking scenery. Individuals reaching here consider going hiking and trekking the staircase way. The park offers plenty of other opportunities for added fun, including zipping lining, 3-D archery, animal meet-and-greets, bird of prey demonstrations, and more. For overnight stayers, the park also offers cabin rentals that are pet friendly. Or, one can choose from multiple tenting and camping sites.
TIP: Amicalola Falls State Park has breathtaking views of the north Georgia mountains. There is no other better park to visit in Georgia for someone whose main focus is one natural beauty.
5. Cloudland Canyon State Park
The Cloudland Canyon State Park is another incredibly beautiful state park in Georgia. Spread over 3,538 acres, it is also one of the largest state parks in Georgia. Some of its astounding features include thousand-foot-deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, lush woodlands, waterfalls, and caves. As immense as its size, Cloudland Canyon has a lot of things to do. The list goes endlessly, with 64 miles of gorgeous north Georgia hiking trails, 16 miles of horseback riding trails, and 30 miles of mountain biking trails. Outdoor enthusiasts from entire North America consider keeping a visit here on their bucket list. The State Park also boasts a fishing pond, an 18-hole golf course, a geocaching site, and some gorgeous waterfalls. For individuals who want to stay overnight, Cloudland Canyon offers excellent camping opportunities. Or, for an upgraded experience, individuals can choose to go for cottages and yurts that add in the ultimate glamping experience.
6. Fort Mountain State Park
The Fort Mountain State Park is a little beaten and offers something unique from others on the list. It sits on the southwestern end of the Cohutta Mountains. The park one sees today was once the land of Cherokee Indians for several centuries. Thus, today’s park preserves and presents the indigenous history of the Cohutta Mountains region and those who settled here. The park encompasses 3,712 acres of land, offering multiple unique features. One of the most incredible amongst them is the 855-foot-long ancient stone wall near the mountain’s crest. As per claims, this wall was a defensive fortification for spiritual and ceremonial purposes during the early Native American era. Individuals visiting the Fort Mountain State Park can enjoy 60 miles of recreational hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails. The park also offers opportunities to enjoy the splendid nature and wildlife of the region.
7. Panola Mountain State Park
One of the three National Heritage Areas in Georgia, the Panola Mountain State Park is a people’s favorite. The State Park is just 15 minutes from downtown Atlanta. It serves as an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Weekends and even a single vacation day in Atlanta mean the crowd runs their best speed towards Panola Mountain. All of it is because of the plenty of outdoor recreational options this region offers. Individuals visit here to indulge in activities like tree climbing, fishing, bird watching, geocaching, and archery. The park also boasts 25 miles of multi-use trail, which calls hikers, bikers, dog-walkers, runners, and forested fitness trails alike. However, the highlight of Panola Park is the 100-acre granite monadnock formation. This geological formation rises 946 feet above sea level, and its summit offers panoramic views of the South River.
8. Hard Labor Creek State Park
Hard Labor Creek State Park is located between Bostwick and Rutledge and is named after the small creek that cuts through the park. The park is spread over 5,804 acres and offers a wide range of recreational opportunities in a beautiful wooded setting. One can access it from Interstate 20 near Fairplay and Rutledge. Hard Labor Creek State Park is best known for its feature in movies like Friday the 13th, Part IV, Little Darlings, and Poison Ivy. The park boasts 24 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails for recreational enthusiasts. It also features an 18-hole golf course, which is noted amongst the best golf courses in Georgia. Another popular attraction here is the Hard Labor Creek Observatory. Visitors who want to stay overnight can camp at Camp Rutledge and Camp Daniel Morgan. The best time to visit Hard Labor Creek is during spring when the region is in the full blow of new life.
9. Vogel State Park
Vogel State Park is among the first two state parks in Georgia. It was established back in 1931 at the base of Blood Mountain in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Sitting at an elevation of over 2,500 feet, it is also one of the highest parks in Georgia. Vogel State Park is popular amongst hiking enthusiasts for its four hiking trails, ranging in difficulty levels and adventure quotient. The best hiking opportunities here come during the Autumn season when the Blue Ridge Mountains turn into a painters’ dream. Vogel is also home to a 22-acre lake that has a seasonal beach that appears during the warm month. The lake also offers boating opportunities for visitors. Another fun place to visit here is the seasonal Civilian Conservation Corps Museum. For overnight stayers, Vogel hosts 34 one- and two-bedroom cottages, RVing sites, and campsites.
10. Tallulah Gorge State Park
One of the best state parks in Georgia, the Tallulah Gorge State Park offers the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S. Covering 2,689-acre adjacent to Tallulah Falls, that park offers beauty and adventure one cannot forget. The park’s highlight is a two-mile erosion-carved gorge that plummets more than 1,000 feet to the surface of the Tallulah River. Next it is also home to a collection of six smaller waterfalls that create a drop of 500 feet and, of course, the spectacular Tallulah Falls. For the usual excursion affair, there are 20 miles of hiking trails. Some of them mark their way all through an 80-foot-high suspension bridge with astounding views of the canyon below. Another must-visit is the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center which exhibits the region’s ecosystem and history. The Tallulah Gorge State Park is also home to 50 campsites that boost tenting, trailering, and RVing.
11. Stephen C. Foster State Park
Stephen C. Foster State Park is the Georgia park that allows enthusiasts to explore the Okefenokee Swamp’s unique ecosystem. The park spans over 120 acres within the broader 402,000-acre Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The main draw here is walking through the Spanish moss dangling from the trees above and observing wildlife around. Visitors also enjoy activities like canoeing, kayaking, boating, and guided fishing tours. The State Park is home to over 12,000 American alligators, herons, wood storks, deer, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and black beers. Such variety also makes Stephen Park a wonderland for animal watchers. Or, in case someone wants to extend the experience a little more, the exhibits at Suwannee River Visitor Center will make it up for them. It is also the first International Dark Sky Park in Georgia, so on days with minimal light interference, one can observe the beautiful milky way here.
12. Watson Mill Bridge State Park
Also known as the most picturesque park in Georgia, the Watson Mill Bridge State Park is a must-visit. The park is home to the Watson Mill Bridge, the longest covered bridge in Georgia, as its name suggests. The bridge goes 229 feet across the South Fork River and is the park’s highlight. Like any other American state park, it too boasts activities like hiking, biking, and horseback riding across the forest and river setting. Summers calls for river dipping opportunities just below the bridge. The park is home to 2 picnic shelters, making it one of the best picnic spots. It is also home to 3 pioneer campsites, 1 group shelter, 21 tent, trailer, and RVing campsites, and nearly 11 equestrian campsites.