The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the insects are buzzing – warm weather in Georgia is finally here! And even better is the fact that the pesky pollen is finally gone. This time of year is ideal for heading outdoors and exploring all that the metro Atlanta area offers, including the many state parks that are just a short drive away. There are more than 60 properties throughout our great state that offer everything from sweeping canyon views to awe-inspiring waterfalls, and they are all just waiting for you to visit.
Get your friends or your family and check out a few of the Georgia State Parks closest to home this spring and summer!
Cloudland Canyon State Park
Located in the Northwest corner of Georgia, Cloudland Canyon State Park offers some of the most scenic views in the United States, along with adventurous hiking and mountain biking trails. You must see the main overlook, a breathtaking view of the 1,000-foot-deep canyon. A little further down the canyon is a beautiful waterfall with a shallow pool for cooling off and recreation. These are easily accessible for adults of all fitness levels, as well as children and pets.
The 3,538-acre park includes 30 miles of biking trails and 64 miles of hiking trails, with options for everyone. Additionally, the park offers horseback riding, fishing, camping, lodging and disc golf, as well as opportunities for staying overnight with an abundance of cottages, yurts and campsites.
Sweetwater Creek State Park
Located only minutes west of downtown Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek State Park is a peaceful area that is home to the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a former textile mill that was set on fire during the Civil War. Covering 2,549 acres of wilderness, Sweetwater Creek is ideal for hiking, fishing, birdwatching, geocaching or picnicking. A bait shop offers fishing supplies, while the park rents out fishing boats, canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and pedal boats during the summer months.
Meander along a wooded trail that follows the creek to the ruins or head out in search of the area’s lively rapids. Or enjoy your time on one of the trails that wind through the various fields and forests, where you can see a wide range of flora and fauna.
Make it a long weekend staycation by renting out one of the park’s yurts or tent campsites and enjoy this beautiful retreat just minutes from the city!
Panola Mountain State Park
Another park just 15 minutes from the city, Panola Mountain State Park in Stockbridge is home to a wide variety of recreational activities – there is truly something for every age and every interest! Little ones can spend time on the park’s playground while parents relax nearby, or you can enjoy a peaceful family picnic with a beautiful view. Kids will also enjoy archery, geocaching, orienteering, birding and tree-climbing programs. You can even head out on the park’s paved trail ideal for biking, rollerblading and jogging, or on one of the unpaved forest trails perfect for hiking and running.
Spanning over 1,600 acres, the Park even includes a granite outcrop similar to Stone Mountain! Part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, the Park is also home to Vaughters’ Barn, an iconic remnant of DeKalb County’s rural past, which has included early settlers, immigrant rock cutters, freed slaves and even Trappist monks.
Red Top Mountain State Park
Named for its rich red soil, Red Top Mountain State Park was once a mining area replete with iron-ore. Located on Lake Allatoona, this park is a great spot for water sports of all kinds, with a beach and options for boating or boat rentals. The Park is also known for its incredible hiking opportunities, with more than 15 miles of trails available for every skill level. Other activities available at the park include archery programs, biking trails, geocaching, pickleball, tennis and more.
With so many activities available, Red Top Mountain is a popular staycation destination. The Park is home to 20 cottages, 93 campsites, one yurt and one pioneer campground.
With so many incredible parks close to Atlanta, what are you still doing here? Pack the car, jump on in and spend the day exploring one of Georgia’s state parks!