There are several state parks in Northeast Georgia, allowing visitors to enjoy mountain views, lakes and trails. State parks offer many amenities not found in more primitive hiking areas. Kayak and bike rentals are often available, and visitors centers provide information and maps. Parking is $5 at state parks, and annual passes can be purchased for $50.
Amicalola Falls State Park
The gorgeous 729-foot waterfall is the showstopper of this nearly 830-acre park nestled at the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The park also offers hiking trails, a plush mountainside lodge, camping, archery, zip-lining and event spaces. And birds of prey and reptiles are regularly showcased in weekend meet and greet events.
Don Carter State Park
On the north end of Lake Lanier, this park has a lot to offer on the water. There's a beach along with 8 miles of water trails. There are also several trails on land, including paved and natural hiking trails between a half mile and 2 miles long. The park has many equestrian trails, too. Primitive, tend and RV camping are available along with a few cottages.
- 5000 N. Browning Bridge Road, Gainesville
- gastateparks.org/DonCarter | 678-450-7726
Smithgall Woods State Park
This trout-fishing haven on Dukes Creek has 5 miles of trails, 18 miles of road and six cottages ready for hikers, day-trippers and anglers. Fishing is tightly controlled in the 5,664-acre park — so be sure to call ahead and schedule your trip to the park well in advance.
- 61 Tsalaki Trail, Helen
- gastateparks.org/SmithgallWoods | 706-878-3087
Tallulah Gorge State Park
Crowds flock every year to see this 2-mile-long, 1,000-foot deep gash along Georgia’s forested terrain. People can hike to different overlooks or obtain a permit to hike to the gorge’s floor. Only 100 people are allowed per day when water isn’t being released from the dam at Tallulah Falls Lake. Visitors can brave the suspension bridge, which sways high above the gorge and provides views of its six waterfalls. For a closer view of the Hurricane Falls waterfall, travel to the park’s observation deck within the gorge. The 2.8-mile roundtrip Shortline Trail follows along the shores of the Tallulah River.
- 338 Jane Hurt Yarn Road, Tallulah Falls
- gastateparks.org/tallulahgorge | 706-754-7981
Unicoi State Park
Unicoi State Park’s breathtaking views lie only a couple of miles away from the Alpine village of Helen near Unicoi Lake, the headwaters for the Chattahoochee River. This park offers opportunities for fishing, swimming, paddling zip-lining, camping, hiking and even has an archery and air gun range. Camping is available on site along with a lodge. There's also a restaurant and tavern.
- 1788 Ga. 356, Helen
- gastateparks.org/unicoi | 706-878-2201
Vogel State Park
This park sits at the base of Blood Mountain, which is the highest summit on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. Hike to the peak during the fall and see the Blue Ridge Mountains ablaze in autumn colors. Trekking on land not your thing? Enjoy the park’s 22-acre lake in a non-motorized boat or visit during the summer when the mountain-view beach opens. Check out the park’s rich history at the CCC Museum built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
- 405 Vogel State Park Road, Blairsville
- gastateparks.org/vogel | 706-745-2628