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With the state’s natural beauty, varied terrain and accommodating weather most of the year, there are some great opportunities for hiking in Georgia. All across the state there are plentiful trails and parks that play excellent hosts to experienced and novice hikers alike. Hikers will find natural treasures on these trails – from canyons to waterfalls – and toward the northeast, Georgia’s elevation rises with the Appalachian Mountain range continuing all the way up the Eastern Seaboard. With so many trails to choose from, it’s hard to narrow down the selection. Fret not! We’ve picked out some of the best hiking in Georgia for your next outing.
Just outside of the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia’s northeastern quadrant lies Yonah Mountain. Here you can hike the Yonah Mountain Trail leading to spectacular summit views and backpacking campsites just outside of Helen. Before or after your hike, it’s worth stopping by Helen, an attraction designed as a replica of a Bavarian alpine village in the 1960s
The Yonah Mountain Trail is a dog-friendly trail that is 4.4 miles (7 km) round trip. You will travel through a forest filled with wildflowers and rocky terrain as you climb the Southern Appalachian mountain. It’s a moderately strenuous hike departing from Chambers Mountain Road and begins its summit just after the trailhead. The main trail is wide and gravel-covered, and there are some nice views along the way before the summit. Just an hour and a half from Atlanta, Yonah Mountain offers some of the best hiking in Georgia.
Address: 1900 Chambers Rd., Cleveland, GA 30571
In Georgia’s southeast bordering the Atlantic Ocean, this area is far from the Appalachian foothills and mountains, but there are still great hikes at lower elevation. Just south of Savannah lies Skidaway Island, home to Skidaway Island State Park. A unique maritime forest crosses the island filled with live oaks and Spanish moss.
Here you’ll find the Big Ferry Trail where you can explore the coastal marsh and intercoastal waterway. Along the trail lies a multistory wooden observation deck that offers stunning views of the coastal landscape and glimpses of local wildlife. This trail is 2.6 miles (4.2 km) round trip and also dog-friendly. In the state park, you’ll find popular campgrounds and cabins as well if you’re keen to stay for a longer visit. Visit Skidaway Island for a memorable coastal hike with natural and human-made surprises, like the remains of Prohibition-era moonshine stills.
Address: 85 Skidaway Island Park Rd., Savannah, GA 31411
To the west of the Appalachians in the central northern part of Georgia, just outside of the Cohutta Wilderness, you’ll find an unlikely hike in Fort Mountain State Park. Here the Fort Mountain State Park Summit Trail ascends above the primarily flat landscape of the surrounding area near Chatsworth.
This trail is on the shorter side at 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round trip and ranks as relatively moderate in difficulty. One of its most distinctive and alluring features lies along the trail and takes shape in an 800-foot long ancient stone wall. There is also a 1930s four-story stone tower that seemingly belongs to a castle that isn’t there. A panoramic view opens up at the apex of the trail proffering beautiful long-range views of the neighboring mountains and plains. It’s a hike that’s perfect for beginners and offers plenty of interest at a short distance.
Address: 181 Fort Mountain State Park Rd., Chatsworth, GA 30705
One of Georgia’s real hidden gems is known as the “Little Grand Canyon” of the East and sits in the southwest part of the state near Lumpkin. Providence Canyon features gorges of colorful sandstone carved throughout time and looking completely out of place in the Southeast. While this canyon is much smaller than the West’s Grand Canyon, it is still a beautiful and colorful place with a stunning hike worth a visit.
Coming in at 4.85 miles (7.8 km) round trip, this hike is another that is relatively moderate and dog-friendly. Its terrain is reminiscent of the southwestern United States with colorful walls that range through a stream-filled expanse of sandy hiking trails. There are more than 10 miles (16 km) of hiking trails in the park, but the main trail follows the white loop.
Here you can view the canyon from both above and below as well as explore the surrounding forest. The surrounding sandstone boasts beautiful colors and dates back nearly 70 million years. For uncommon terrain and satisfying views, Providence Canyon is a great spot for some of the best hiking in Georgia.
Address: 8930 Canyon Rd., Lumpkin, GA 31815
With 11 national parks and 53 state parks, Georgia has more natural beauty than one article can cover. These four destinations are the sites of some of the best hiking in Georgia, and as always, there are many more to explore. Choose the hike that speaks to you and on a clear day head out to capture some of the stunning sights that these excursions offer.
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