Brasstown Bald sunrise. Photo by Robert Rainbow
5 Georgia Hikes with Jaw-Dropping Views
Rising 4,784 feet above sea level, Brasstown Bald towers over Georgia as the state's highest elevation. A visitor center at the summit includes interactive exhibits and an observation deck offering a 360-degree vista that sweeps across four states. Located in Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, Brasstown Bald is accessible via a steep, half-mile climb from the parking area or an 11-mile, out-and-back hike from Trackrock Gap along the Arkaquah Trail. Open from April through December, due to rapidly changing weather conditions, this is a must-visit destination for spring, summer and fall.
Chattahoochee Bend State Park
Protecting 5 miles of the Chattahoochee River in Coweta County, Chattahoochee Bend is one of Georgia's largest state parks. Visitors enjoy paddling, fishing, several camping options, and 12 miles of trails exploring the riverine forest and impressive granite outcrops. The park's observation tower is located about a mile into the Riverwalk Trail. This trail winds along with the Chattahoochee River for a scenic, 10-mile out-and-back trek to primitive platform camping sites. The tower is serenely set among stately trees lining the riverbanks, giving a treehouse feel and a birds-eye view of native wildlife.
Cloudland Canyon State Park
More than 30 miles of trails traverse this popular park on the western edge of Lookout Mountain. The deep, awe-inspiring canyon showcases Georgia's scenic beauty with breathtaking overlooks, tranquil waterfalls, wild caves and beautiful forest. With plenty of recreational opportunities, Cloudland Canyon is a haven for backpackers, mountain bikers and nature-loving families. The park's observation deck looks over a small fishing pond where visitors may regularly spot wildlife, in a quiet area, away from the most popular activities in the park. To find it, park near the disc golf course, take a short walk just off the 2-mile backcountry trail, or hike on over via the connector trail from the park's interpretive center.
Crooked River State Park
Located right on Crooked River, near St. Marys and Cumberland Island National Seashore, Crooked River State Park offers endless opportunities for paddlers, birders and nature photographers. The 4 miles of trails explore critically endangered ecosystems, old-growth hardwood forest with five Georgia Champion Trees and evergreen wetlands. The park boasts several raised blinds for watching birds and wildlife near the river, marshes and ponds. From the screened observation tower along the Bay Boardwalk Trail, birdwatchers may spot several types of owl and woodpecker, as well as warblers, hawks and migratory songbirds.
Fort Mountain State Park
Incredible views, mysterious ancient structures, intense mountain biking and rugged hiking trails crown Fort Mountain, a king among Georgia's parks. Now, visitors can also explore a newly restored stone fire tower. Completed in 1935 by the Civillian Conservation Corps, this impressive tower stood guard against forest fires until the 1960s. Interpretive panels along the trail leading to the tower tell the story of the tower's historical significance and detail the restoration process. While visitors can view the tower any day, open houses with a park interpreter enhance the experience every Saturday from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.