22 Best State Parks in Georgia with Lakes, Falls, Lush Forests, and Mountains

Lake in Vogel State Park in the autumn in Blairsville, Georgia.

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If your trips revolve around outdoor fun, prepare to expand your itinerary with some of the best state parks in Georgia.

These spots encompass a wide range of landscapes, from mountains to coastal areas, reflecting the state’s geographical diversity and natural wonders. 

The coastal region showcases the unique marshlands and maritime forests as well as vibrant ecosystems and diverse wildlife.

Moving towards central Georgia, you’ll encounter parks with rolling hills, serene lakes, and historic sites.

In the northern region of the state, you’ll find mountainous parks with waterfalls and spectacular vistas.

And the good thing is many of these places offer educational programs to help visitors learn about the natural and cultural history of the area.

In this guide, you will find all the essential information you need to make the most of your time in Georgia’s state parks, whether you enjoy thrills and adventure or simply a tranquil escape.

For an epic escapade in the state, try our Georgia bucket list guide.

Best State Parks in Georgia

To make planning easier, our list of Georgia state parks will begin in the south around the Coastal Plain, then move to the Piedmont areas, and finally cover those near and around the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Crooked River State Park

On the flat lowlands just north of the Florida border, Crooked River State Park is near the Atlantic Ocean outside of St. Marys.

This park has plenty of accommodations for overnight visitors, with 63 camper and RV sites and 11 cottages owned by the park.

The nature center and boat ramp are popular day-use areas in the park, and it also has plenty of flat hiking trails, which are great for beginners.

There are several wildlife blinds for watching waterfowl in the lowlands, as well as a mile-long boardwalk through one of the marshes in the park.

Paddling is a pastime on the East River, and the park also owns a mini golf course.

Check out these Florida state parks if you’re spending time in that area, too.

Crooked River State Park Boat Launch in Georgia

Skidaway Island State Park

At the other end of Georgia’s swampy Atlantic coast is Skidaway Island State Park in Savannah.

The park is very similar to Crooked River in terms of geography and lodging amenities, with an 87-site campground and six cottages and yurts for visitors to stay in.

Six miles of flat hiking trails weave through the park and it also rents bikes to visitors.

The landscape features marshes, bottomlands, and salt flats, which can be viewed from an observation tower on the west side of the park.

As this is a state park in Savannah, it’s perfect for those staying around the area wanting to get out into nature.

If you want to check out things to do in this city, read this guide.

Two deer in the tall marsh grass at Skidaway Island State Park, Georgia

General Coffee State Park

Another one of the South Georgia state parks, General Coffee State Park is a 1,500-acre park east of Douglas.

From the playground and ballfield to a four-acre calm lake for paddlers (the park has rentals available), the park has many amenities.

The park also has seven different lodging options, from large cottages to traditional ones, a full campground, backcountry campsites, equestrian campsites, and a large group lodge.

While mostly encompassing the bottomlands on the Seventeen Mile River, the edges of the park also include some of the hills on the edge of the valley.

The park also has a heritage farm which is an interactive site with animals and educational kiosks, only adding to the many things this park has to offer.

Magnolia Springs State Park

North of Millen, Magnolia Springs State Park is a 1,000-acre park with a lake, natural spring, and historic camp.

Fishing is popular at the park, with plenty of places to do it, and a fish hatchery is located inside the park.

A seasonal splash pad and reservable archery range also add to the list of activities to do at Magnolia Springs.

Paddling is popular on the lake and the park has rentals available.

This is also one of the state parks near Statesboro, just around a 40-minute drive.

Seminole State Park

Down in Georgia’s southwest corner on the flooded tributaries of Lake Seminole is Seminole State Park.

Spanning 600 acres, the park serves as a favored entry to the 37,500-acre Lake Seminole, welcoming boats both large and small through any of its three boat ramps. 

Accommodations at the park encompass a 50-site campground and 14 cottages designed to host overnight visitors, alongside an abundance of lakeside activities for one to relish.

The lake has many docks and the cottages surrounded by pine trees are a perfect way to spend a weekend away from home.

Kolomoki Mounds State Park

Just north of Blakely is Kolomoki Mounds State Park and Museum.

Kolomoki Mounds showcase the prehistoric mounds of the area, some of which are over 50 feet high.

Two lakes in the park provide outdoor recreation for the towns of Blakely and Bluffton.

The park has a small campground, two lakes for fishing and paddling, and five miles of trails that run along lakeshores and through woods.

Mini golf is available in the park and paddling rentals can be conducted through the park office.

Providence Canyon State Park

Providence Canyon State Park is a unique sight in southwest Georgia and was formed by humans unintentionally.

Poor farming practices two hundred years ago led to erosion of the hillsides, allowing the soil to slide to the valley floor, creating high, dirty canyon walls.

Hiking is popular here, with nine canyons to explore, rims to traverse, and more than three miles of backcountry trail through the woods.

The park also has a museum where visitors can learn more about the farming practices that led to the canyon’s creation and the history of the area.

Providence Canyon State Park is 1,000 acres and is day-use only aside from registered backcountry campers.

This is also a state park near Columbus, around an hour’s drive away south.

Little Grand Canyon Providence Canyon State Park in Lumpkin, Georgia

Hamburg State Park

History is heavy in the Georgia state parks, as seen by the 1920s grist mill in Hamburg State Park.

With 741 acres on Hamburg Mill Pond, a large lake in the park is a perfect place to spend time outdoors.

This is one of the state parks near Augusta, just an hour outside of the city, and features a campground, motorboat, paddling rentals, and many wildlife viewing opportunities including deer, raccoons, turtles, and alligators.

The park has a number of short trails that run along the southeast shores of the lake which are open to hikers and bikers.

High Falls State Park

Something not normally seen south of Atlanta, High Falls State Park is home to the tallest waterfall in the state south of the major city.

Amenities of High Falls State Park include a 106-site campground, six yurts, a swimming pool, and two boat ramps.

The park is located just south of High Falls Lake, a popular place for larger watercraft, and paddlers are only allowed to paddle in the lake.

Hiking on just over three miles of trails is a popular activity too, with the one-mile Falls Trail being the main attraction, and the two-mile Tranquil Trail being for those who want to get off the beaten path.

Indian Springs State Park

If you’re looking for state parks near Macon, Indian Springs State Park is just around a 45-minute drive and just seven miles away from High Falls with many of the same amenities and natural features.

A museum in the park aims to educate visitors on the popularity of the spring before Europeans arrived due to the water’s healing qualities.

Ten cottages and a large campground provide overnight visitors with places to stay, and the 105-acre lake is home to many recreational opportunities including paddling and fishing.

A three-mile multi-use trail runs along the south shore of the lake and provides most of the hiking and offroad biking opportunities in the park.

Big Sandy Creek east of the dammed lake is a popular place for rock hopping and exploring, since the creek has many rock faces that the water slowly tumbles down.

Chattahoochee Bend State Park

Much larger than any of the parks featured so far, Chattahoochee Bend State Park is almost 3,000 acres of wilderness of the Chattahoochee River with many recreational activities and facilities.

First, the park is one of the most popular for kayakers.

A variety of campsites dot the park, from traditional to backcountry, and the park also has three cottages.

Fishing is popular on the river, and with the park’s size, there are lots of places to do it.

Hiking and biking opportunities are abundant as well, with 12 miles of hiking trails and almost five miles of mountain biking trails, Chattahoochee Bend is a popular place to hit the trails.

One of the hiking highlights at the park is the observation tower on the Chattahoochee River, which allows visitors to observe wildlife from a different angle and creates a landmark to hike to.

Plus, this is one of the state parks near Atlanta, around an hour’s drive from the city.

Chattahoochee River Georgia

Sweetwater Creek State Park

The main Georgia state park for the Atlanta area is Sweetwater Creek State Park.

Located in Lithia Springs, the park features a reservoir that feeds into the fast-moving Sweetwater Creek.

The park is 2,549 acres, putting it on the larger side of the Georgia state parks system, and contains over 15 miles of hiking trails running along the creek, lake, and between the wooded hills of the park.

Camping is limited to just five tent campsites, but there are also ten yurts in the park.

The park also has a boat ramp on the lake, a seasonal bait shop, a museum, and a gift shop.

Panola Mountain State Park

If Sweetwater Creek is the water-based park for the Atlanta area, Panola Mountain is most certainly the land-based one.

Panola Mountain itself isn’t the most impressive in terms of height (950 feet), and the summit can’t even be reached via trail, but the park’s rock climbing and bouldering opportunities certainly make up for it.

A number of hiking trails weave through the woods of Panola Mountain, which is open only to day visitors.

The most unique part of this park is its 22-target archery range that is open to the public.

Visitors can pay for a daily archery fee, while locals have the option to pay annually.

Richard B. Russell State Park

Richard B. Russell State Park sits on the South Carolina border northeast of Elberton and is one of the state parks near Athens, GA, around an hour away.

The 26,650-acre Russell Lake created by the damming of the Savannah River provides nearly unmatched water recreation for visitors to the park.

With 20 lakeside cottages, the park is perfect for those who may not have camping gear, but who want to spend their nights in a state park.

Six miles of trails run along the lakeshore which are open to biking and hiking, a disc golf course and regular golf course also exist within the park.

Tugaloo State Park

Further up the Savannah River is the small Tugaloo State Park.

While the 400-acre park is smaller than most Georgia state parks, it sits on Hartwell Lake, which is over 55,000 acres of water in Georgia and South Carolina.

The beach is popular at this park since Georgia’s swampy coastline doesn’t allow for as many beaches as some other states.

For overnight visitors, the park offers a large campground and 20 lakeside cottages, along with six yurts.

Red Top Mountain State Park

Speaking of 20 cottages and six yurts, Red Top Mountain State Park has these exact same amenities.

Situated on Lake Allatoona northwest of Atlanta and in the foothills of Georgia’s highlands, this park offers a variety of trails that follow the lake’s jagged edges, providing opportunities for hiking and biking.

Similar to Tugaloo, the park has multiple boat ramps and a sand beach, and with such proximity to Atlanta, they are popular on weekends.

You may also like our Atlanta bucket list and free things to do in Atlanta guide.

Lake Allatoona at Red Top Mountain State Park north of Atlanta Georgia

Cloudland Canyon State Park

The first “real” mountain park on this list is Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia’s northwesternmost.

3,538 acres comprise this large park, and with elevation differences of over 1,000 feet, the trail system offers amazing views of the canyon.

A number of cottages dot the west side of the park in small groups, and the campground in the park is large.

The main focus point of the park is its trail experience, with 16 miles of multi-use trails and 64 miles of hiking trails, the trail system at this park is among the best in Georgia.

Cave tours, disc golf, and rock climbing are all available to do in the park, some must be conducted through the park, and some are allowed with your own equipment.

View of Cloudland Canyon State Park south of Lookout Mountain, Georgia

Amicalola Falls State Park

Probably one of the most popular Georgia state parks with waterfalls is Amicalola Falls State Park.

Among the park’s main attractions is the 729-foot Amicalola Falls, the tallest in the state with many of its trails following the creek.

The Appalachian Trail can also be accessed from this park, but it requires a significant amount of hiking; the southern terminus is more than 8 miles one-way.

Amicalola Falls is not a large park, but the lodge on the park grounds makes it seem big.

There are also a few cabins available for reservation in the park, and the lodge and restaurant are popular places to spend the night and grab a bite during your stay.

This state park is listed on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources site, but it isn’t managed by them.

The North Georgia Mountains Authority and Coral Hospitality operate the park, so it is only loosely defined as a state park, it is public land operated partially by a private company.

Amicalola Falls waterfall shot at slow shutter speed in Spring in Georgia

Vogel State Park

The small Vogel State Park is one of the state parks near Blue Ridge and is centered around a small man-made lake in the mountains, Lake Trahlyta.

Ideal for paddleboarders seeking a more scenic experience, the lake is also abundantly stocked with fish.

Primarily functioning as a camping hub for nearby mountain getaways, the park boasts nearly 100 campsites and 34 cottages

Hiking in the park is limited to around the lake, but the park’s trail system connects to the many long trails that run through northeast Georgia’s backcountry, and Vogel can provide a base camp for those who want to take long hikes every day without backpacking.

Lake in Vogel State Park in the autumn in Blairsville, Georgia.

Unicoi State Park

Similar to Amicalola Falls, Unicoi State Park and Lodge is only partially managed by the state.

This is a state park in Helen, GA, mainly centered around Unicoi Lake, a popular place for people staying in the lodge to get out and fish, paddle, and hike.

The lake has a beach, and the park has many trails that weave through the creek valley below the lake.

And for more experienced hikers, they can take the Smith Trail to Anna Ruby Falls, which is outside the park but connected to the trail system.

Unicoi is full of different activities for visitors, including archery, ziplining, and mountain biking as well.

Storm clouds and mountains reflecting in Unicoi Lake, at Unicoi State Park Georgia

Black Rock Mountain State Park

The highest point in a state park in Georgia sits at 3,640 feet above sea level on the continental divide.

The 1,743-acre Black Rock Mountain State Park is certainly a popular one for hikers and only sits less than ten miles from two other states.

A small lake in the park provides paddling and fishing opportunities, but since the park is in the mountains, the main attraction is the trail system.

11 miles of trails climb and descend Black Rock Mountain and other mountains in the park.

Even beginning hikers can find something here, with a short trail that goes around the lake also being found in the park.

Views of three states, backcountry campsites overlooking valleys, and small-scale water recreation all give this park a name as one of the best in Georgia.

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Another one of North Georgia state parks is Tallulah Gorge State Park.

This spot may be small, but like many mountain parks, its trail connections make it seem large.

At 473 acres, the park is centered around a large canyon headed by waterfalls.

Fishing on the lake at the west end of the park is popular, as well as paddling; the lake also has a beach.

A suspension bridge over the gorge is among the main attractions in the park, and with 20 miles of hiking trails, the park has many different landscapes to explore.

An unpaved road through the wildlife management area also leads to a boat ramp on Tugaloo Lake southeast of the gorge, which is larger than the Tallulah Falls Lake and large boats can be launched on it.

Rock climbing is something that can be experienced at this park, tennis courts, an archery range, and a shooting range also exist within the park.

You may also like our guide to things to do in North Georgia.

Sunset Storm Clouds at Tallulah Gorge State Park, Georgia

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide to Georgia state parks has provided you with the information you need for an incredible outdoor adventure.

Feel free to leave your comments below and share your own experiences. 

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