Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia. Photo by @carlosophotography

Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia. Photo by @carlosophotography

Spread Out at the 5 Biggest Georgia State Parks

Georgia's State Park system covers more than 84,000 acres throughout the state, making it easy to spread out and find your private nook in nature. From the largest state park in Georgia (F.D. Roosevelt State Park, 9,049 acres in Pine Mountain) to the smallest (Moccasin Creek State Park, 32 acres on Lake Burton), recreation options never end. Start your next adventure with a trip to the five largest of the bunch.

Trails at F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia

F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain

Land area: 9,049 acres

F.D. Roosevelt is not only Georgia's largest state park, it also boasts 42 miles of trails with multiple loops and sections to hike. If you're seeking solitude, skip the most popular Wolf Den Loop, and instead take the 3.2-mile Mountain Creek Nature Trail. Up for an all-day hike? Tackle the 7.8-mile Big Poplar Loop, named for an especially lovely tree near the 10-mile marker.

For sweeping valley views mixed with history, stop by Dowdell's Knob overlook and take a "sculpture selfie" with FDR. Stay the night in one of the park's charming 1930s cabins before visiting nearby Roosevelt's Little White House Historic Site the next day.

Visit F.D. Roosevelt State Park

Mountain biking at Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge, Georgia

Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge

Land area: 5,804 acres

If knobby tires are more your mode, set off on Hard Labor Creek State Park's mountain bike trails. Beginners can start with the one-mile Orange Trail, working up to the more challenging 5.25-mile Red Trail. Most popular is the 5-mile Blue Trail, which winds through hardwoods and pines, passing rippling creeks lined with lush ferns.

Newly renovated park cabins mean you can recuperate in comfort, then try paddling, swimming or fishing on 274-acre Lake Rutledge the next day. The Creek Golf Course offers fees as low as $23, a pro shop, and weekly themed leagues.

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Smithgall Woods State Park in Helen, Georgia

Smithgall Woods State Park in Helen

Land area: 5,664 acres

This fly-fishing paradise provides access to one of North Georgia's premier trophy-trout streams. Dukes Creek is filled with rainbow, brown, and brook trout tempting the most experienced outdoor enthusiasts. The number of anglers is limited to 15 each day, ensuring an exceptional catch-and-release experience. Be sure to ask rangers for tips on lures and prime fishing spots.

Smithgall Woods State Park also boasts beautiful mountain cottages, some with streamside porches and others with private hot tubs. Overnight guests enjoy the perk of a private trail leading to Dukes Creek Falls, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in North Georgia. Visit in late autumn to see the forest blanketed with red, orange, and gold leaves.

Visit Smithgall Woods State Park

Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia. Photo by @mrlnsfrt

Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth

Photo by @mrlnsfrt

Land area: 3,712 acres

Gorgeous Fort Mountain State Park sits in the middle of the North Georgia mountains, offering a bounty of outdoor recreation. Hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians will find beautiful trails winding through hardwoods and blueberry thickets, crossing streams and leading to expansive overlooks. During summer, kids can build sandcastles and swim in a cool mountain lake.

If you like a good mystery, hike along the ancient stone wall that zigzags 855 feet across the mountaintop. No one knows for sure how it came to be, but Cherokee lore attributed construction to the "moon-eyed people." End your adventure with s'mores in the park's campground or relaxing on your cabin's porch.

Visit Fort Mountain State Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia. Photo by @natebowery

Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn

Photo by @natebowery

Land area: 3,488 acres

Spectacular Cloudland Canyon State Park boasts thousand-foot-deep chasms, sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, and wildlife, making it a popular destination on weekends. For the best hiking adventure, lace up your boots, grab your water bottle, and explore the trails during the week. The short but strenuous Waterfalls Trail includes 600 heart-pumping steps, rewarding hikers with two cascades tumbling into small pools. For the most Instagram-worthy canyon views, check out the 5-mile West Rim Loop.

Campers can choose from RV sites, private tent pads and even primitive backpacking sites. Prefer a soft bed and roof overhead? Stay in a fully equipped cabin or even a unique "glamping" yurt. After enjoying your morning coffee with songbirds, you’ll be energized to explore even more of this epic park.

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Published: July 2020
Written by: Kim Hatcher