A 1,000′ deep canyon. The Eastern Continental Divide. Hidden waterfalls. Each of these five state parks in the Northeast Georgia mountains has a unique feature. But beyond the catchy one-liner these parks have loads of outdoor recreation, thrilling adventure, and comfortable places to spend more than a few nights.
At 3,640′ above sea level along the Eastern Continental Divide, Black Rock Mountain State Park is the highest park in the state and offers stunning vistas from an overlook built atop a rocky outcropping on the side of the mountain. It’s probably the best place to just sit and watch the Earth in all of Georgia, but that is not all this park has to offer. Hike the 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail to discover a gorgeous hidden overlook perfect for summer sunsets, spend an evening fishing on the peaceful 17-acre lake, or just come for a picnic at one of two covered shelters. Spend a few nights in the 38-site campground or book one of the ten cottages and make this a weekend getaway destination.
3085 Black Rock Mountain Parkway, Mountain City, GA | 706-746-2141 | http://gastateparks.org/BlackRockMountain
One of the most unique state parks in Georgia surrounds a 2-mile long, 1,000′ deep canyon with cascading waterfalls running through. A maximum of 100 free permits are issued each day for accessing the gorge floor, making this an exclusive place to visit in North Georgia. The journey to the bottom begins along the Sliding Rock Trail that descends at a 45-degree angle along 550 metal steps via the Hurricane Falls Staircase, so this is not for the weak of heart (literally; you need a good cardiovascular system for this hike). If you can’t do the Gorge Floor Trail try one of the easier to hike rim trails each about three miles roundtrip. At the very least spend some time in the visitor center museum and take a short walk out to one of the scenic overlooks on the North Rim. The park features a 47-site campground, a 63-acrew lake above the dam, and a sandy beach perfect for sunbathing and swimming in the warmer months.
338 Jane Hurt Yarn Drive, Tallulah Falls, GA | 706-754-7981 | http://gastateparks.org/TallulahGorge
On the shore of the 2,775-acre Lake Burton, the tiny Moccasin Creek State Park offers a beautiful 48-site campground with views of the water for a comfortable weekend getaway. Bring your boat and use the ramp to access the lake or do some fishing from pier. Rent a canoe or kayak to get out on the water and enjoy a leisure paddle around the lake. Head across the road and hike the 1.5-mile Hemlock Falls Trail to a stunning waterfall.
3655 Highway 197, Clarkesville, GA | 706-947-3194 | http://gastateparks.org/MoccasinCreek
Located just outside Helen, Unicoi State Park is an outdoor adventure paradise with some of the best lodging of all the Georgia state parks. Go paddleboarding or kayaking on the lake, or enjoy a nice day of swimming beside the sandy beach. Fly through the trees on the thrilling zip line adventure course. Enjoy some mountain biking. Or just kick back and enjoy the peacefulness of nature at the lodge or campground. Spend a few nights at the comfortable 100-room lodge with a restaurant, tavern, and gift shop, book a room at one of the 1-, 2-, or 3-bedroom Barrel Cabins, or snag a campsite with full hookups. Take an afternoon to hike the Smith Creek Trail (or drive past the cottages) and visit Anna Ruby Falls, one of the most stunning waterfalls in Georgia.
1788 Highway 356, Helen, GA | 1-800-573-9659 | http://www.unicoilodge.com/
Spend a few nights at this peaceful, secluded state park at one of the thirty-four cottages, 57 trailer & RV sites, or 22 tent sites in a lush forest. During the day rent a kayak to paddle or fish across the 22-acre lake, or hike around the lake on the 1-mile Trahlyta Lake Trail to discover a hidden waterfall. For a more adventurous trail try the 4.1-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail that ascends 600′ to a beautiful overlook. Spend the day relaxing in the park with a small miniature golf course, a 100-seat pavilion along the lake, and four picnic shelters.
405 Vogel State Park Road, Blairsville, GA | 706-745-2628 | http://gastateparks.org/Vogel
Traveler’s Rest State Historic Site
A stagecoach inn built in 1815 used to provide a place for travelers to spend the night along the Unicoi Turnpike through the Appalachian Mountains. Today it is a day trip destination for local visitors to explore the historic inn and several outbuildings. There is a self-guided walking tour, short film inside the museum, and several buildings to explore at this small state historic site near Toccoa.
4339 Riverdale Road, Toccoa, GA | 706-886-2256 | http://gastateparks.org/TravelersRest
Hardman Farm State Historic Site
The Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound is one of the most iconic destinations in Georgia and its located across the road from this small state historic site. Take a guided tour through the beautiful historic home and learn about the two families to own and live there (and the connection to nearby Anna Ruby Falls). Walk through the 173-acre grounds beneath the shade of massive trees that was once the main thoroughfare. Be sure to stop by the visitor center to watch a nice film about the history of the site and browse through the gift shop.
143 Highway 17, Sautee Nacoochee, GA | 706-878-1077 | http://gastateparks.org/HardmanFarm