Amicalola Falls. Photo by @visuals_by_pari
Photo by @visuals_by_pari

Amicalola Falls. Photo by @visuals_by_pari

6 Best Reasons to Explore Georgia State Parks this Summer

Georgia summers are made for relaxing. For some people, that means being on the water, either in a boat, fishing on the shore or splashing in the cool water. Others want more active adventures, golfing pristine courses or early morning hikes under shaded trees. And no summer would be complete without summer camp.

Where can you do all of these activities? At Georgia State Parks! Here is your guide to the very best summer has to offer.

Providence Canyon. Photo by Andrew, @apharis

Hiking

Photo by Andrew, @apharis

There are 44 Georgia State Parks with hiking trails. There is something amazing to see at pretty much all of them, but here are few you shouldn’t miss: 

Providence Canyon in Lumpkin (pictured) is a favorite. Striated layers of golden hued earth are the result of poor farming practices and make for gorgeous views as you walk along the rim trails where trees keep things a bit cooler.

At Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, test your strength with an early morning workout hiking the stairs. To do the entire falls is 620 steps, but the views are totally worth it.

Tallulah Gorge Beach

Swimming

Whether you prefer swimming in lakes or a pool, you can find exactly what you are looking for at Georgia State Parks. Twenty-three sites offer swimming or water play areas. For something unique, take the kids (or kids at heart) to Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls or Watson Mill Bridge State Park in Comer to play on the sliding rocks. If you prefer to splash vs. swim, Magnolia Springs in Millen, Little Ocmulgee in McRae, and Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park in Reidsville have splash pads perfect for younger children.

Paddling in Stephen C. Foster State Park

Boating

Boat lovers can use Georgia State Parks as their second home. Thirty-eight parks offer some type of boating or paddling adventure. Boat owners can bring their own boat and use the ramps, and docks, or if you don’t own a boat, you can rent a watercraft. For something truly spectacular, book a guided boat tour through the mysterious Okefenokee Swamp at Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo.

Pier fishing at Elijah Clark State Park

Fishing

Whether you are a bass fisherman, prefer trout fishing or like to fly fish, you can catch yourself a big one at 43 different state parks. In fact, the largest bass ever caught was in Georgia, perhaps that’s why Lake Walter F. George in Fort Gaines is considered the Bass Capital of the World. You don’t have to be a world-class fisherman to enjoy angling at the parks; the fishing tackle loaner program at many of the parks – including A.H. Stephens, Elijah Clark, George T. Bagby and Victoria Bryant – is perfect for those who do not have their own equipment.

Hard Labor Creek State Park golf course

Golfing

There are eight state parks in Georgia that have 18-hole golf courses. For a true challenge, visit Hard Labor Creek State Park near Rutledge. This course is well designed and known for having the hardest starting hole in the state. And the price is right, too. Golf Digest Frugal Golf magazine rates the Hard Labor Creek golf course as the fourth sweetest deal in the United States. If regular golf is too much for you, Hard Labor Creek also has an 18-hole mini-golf course near the main office where you check in.

Girl hiking on a trail. Photo by @kayandkidscorner

Summer Camp

Photo by @kayandkidscorner

Summer is synonymous with lazy days playing outside and camp. What better place to do both than Georgia State Parks. Junior Naturalists can choose between day camp sessions and overnight camp. Even teens can get into the spirit with the Teen Adventures Learning Ornithology & Nature experience called Camp TALON. If your kids are more DIYers, then pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at any Georgia State Park. Complete the activities and receive a special badge.

Published: June 2019
Written by: Sue Rodman