As a lifelong resident of metro Atlanta, I’ve all the time felt that the pure great thing about the state of Georgia is vastly underrated.
Even native residents are likely to neglect the wonderful quantity of inexperienced house we’re blessed with, which gives limitless wonderful alternatives for recreation and ecotourism adventures.
However taking day journeys from Atlanta is an effective way to discover all the sweetness the Peach State has to supply, from cool caves, majestic mountains, and dazzling lakes to speeding rivers and wondrous waterfalls.
With lots of of metropolis parks, greater than 40 state parks, and 5 nationwide parks positioned in north Georgia alone, the South’s most bustling metropolis additionally boasts loads of out of doors actions. And most of them could be reached inside a two-hour drive from Atlanta.
Whether or not you favor stress-free actions like fishing, biking, and rollerblading in well-maintained parks or extra excessive adventures– mountaineering, spelunking, zip lining, and extra– right here’s a have a look at the varied array of choices for day journeys in and round Atlanta.
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Our of our household’s favourite Atlanta day journeys ever since my daughter was born, Amicalola Falls is without doubt one of the state’s hottest state parks.
That is largely because of its quick access, straightforward mountaineering trails (lots of that are paved with recycled rubber), and 729-foot cascading falls (the tallest east of the Mississippi River).
Amicalola (Cherokee for “tumbling waters”) has seen marked enhancements lately, together with the addition of a brand new commentary deck that gives unimaginable scenic vistas.
Hardcore backpackers typically come this manner, making the 8.5-mile hike to Springer Mountain, which marks the southern finish of the two,135-mile Appalachian Trail.
However most guests go for extra informal hikes, fish for freshwater trout within the well-stocked pond, and revel in a quiet picnic close to the bottom of the falls. It’s a phenomenal method to spend a heat spring or Autumn day.
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Previously the route of the Silver Comet passenger practice, this paved leisure path extends 61.5 miles from the northwest Atlanta suburb of Smyrna all the best way over to the Alabama state line.
The town’s first ever rails-to-trails mission, the Silver Comet Trail is famend for its many spectacular scenic vistas because it traverses quite a few trestles and bridges.
The path additionally gives direct entry to Heritage Park, which options greater than 14 acres of wetlands and the ruins of Harmony Woolen Mills.
Don’t have a motorbike? No drawback, simply lease one from the Silver Comet Depot, which gives full and half-day leases on carbon highway bikes, consolation hybrids, youth bicycles and baby trailers.
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Georgia’s highest mountain, at 4,784 toes above sea degree, Brasstown Bald is maybe the most effective place within the state to get a view of autumn colours at their most radiant.
Recognized to the native Cherokee as Enotah, the location’s present identify really comes from a misunderstanding of the Cherokee phrase “Itse’yĭ” (New Inexperienced Place, or Place of Recent Inexperienced), which settlers mistook for “Ûňtsaiyĭ” (Brass).
The “Bald” refers back to the unparalleled, unobstructed 360-degree view guests get from the highest, the place you may see 4 states (Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee) just by turning your head.
Consequently, the average mountaineering path as much as the Remark Tower can get a bit crowded throughout peak season. However, with rocking chairs, a small picnic space and such scenic environment, it’s an amazing place to spend an autumn afternoon.
Barely extra off-the-beaten-path, this 3,485-acre state park on the western fringe of Lookout Mountain isn’t crowded. But it surely gives a various vary of actions for out of doors fanatics of all health ranges.
Informal nature lovers can merely keep within the picnic space parking zone, the place you may get gorgeous overviews of the canyon with out ever breaking a sweat.
However hardy hikers will love the 4.8-mile West Rim and Waterfalls Path, which gives extra in-depth exploration of the realm (which ranges in elevation from 800 to round 2,000 toes).
The gorge was minimize into the mountain by Sitton Gulch Creek, producing putting rock outcroppings which can be offset by colourful flora. These gorgeous views develop more and more spectacular within the autumn months, because the leaves start to vary.
Cloudland Canyon State Park actually earns its identify within the morning, when the rolling fog over the hills makes it appear as for those who’re strolling within the clouds. Along with 100+ campsites, in addition they have newly renovated cottages and 10 superior yurts.
Atlanta anglers looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the 9 to five life typically head north of the town. There, colder waters present a perfect habitat for trout—to not point out wildlife reminiscent of beaver, raccoons and white tail deer.
Skilled fly fishing guides reminiscent of River By way of Atlanta’s Chris Scalley will help you discover the most effective hush-hush hotspots, the place you may immerse your self in Mom Nature’s pastoral magnificence whereas reeling in some supper.
Scalley, who was acknowledged by Area & Stream journal as a finalist for his or her 2007 Heroes of Conservation Awards for his efforts to guard the realm’s sport fishery, gives a number of recommendations on the most effective areas to land an enormous one.
“I’m an enormous fan of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, particularly the areas close to Bowmans Island, Settles Bridge and Jones Bridge; the Conasauga River and Jacks River part of the Cohutta Wilderness; and the Chattahoochee Nationwide Forest’s Jones Creek, Mountaintown Creek and Excessive Shoals Creek.”
Positioned lower than 90 minutes from the metro Atlanta space within the foothills of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains, north Georgia is a haven for out of doors adventurers and informal nature-lovers alike.
There are practically 20 state parks positioned north of the town’s I-285 perimeter, starting from the mountain biking trails at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder to the horseback driving trails of Watson Mill Bridge State Outside Recreation Space in Comer.
So far as mountaineering trails go, Georgia State Parks spokesperson Sally Winchester mentions the scenic mountain vistas of Amicalola Falls State Park and Cloudland Canyon State Park as two of her favourite locations.
However she additionally loves Vogel State Park, which is positioned close to the Chattahoochee Nationwide Forest. “It’s a really fairly park with a simple hike round Lake Trahlyta. I like staying within the cottages there, which have good fireplaces the place you may chill and calm down after you’ve been outside throughout the day.” Sounds divine, doesn’t it?
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Georgia might not be capable of match the Grand Canyon for sheer dimension and scope. However this 2,689-acre park is arguably among the many most spectacular canyons east of the Mississippi, with unimaginable autumn colours that appear to set the hillsides ablaze.
Thought-about one in every of Georgia’s “Seven Pure Wonders,” Tallulah Gorge is 2 miles lengthy and practically 1,000 toes deep, with over 20 miles of trails for mountaineering and mountain biking. Permits for mountaineering within the gorge are obtainable on the park’s Interpretive Heart.
The realm has develop into widespread with rock climbers, who’re attracted by difficult routes with colourful names reminiscent of Digital Delight, Mescaline Daydream, Flying Frog, and Punk Wave, all of that are rated 5.Eight to five.10. The park solely permits 20 whole climbing permits per day, and it’s finest to go along with skilled guides.
Some November weekends are put aside for whitewater kayaking, as managed water releases of 500-700 cubic toes per second thunder via the gorge. The Interpretive Heart additionally gives reveals on the realm’s wealthy historical past and fragile ecosystem, in addition to a documentary movie concerning the Tallulah Gorge.
Since our home lies about 15 miles exterior the perimeter, heading into the town to spend a day at Piedmont Park is a day journey to Atlanta for us. As you may see from the photograph above, it’s an amazing place to get pictures of the town’s gorgeous skyline.
A Midtown landmark for 115 years, the park has develop into a haven for rollerbladers, who discover refuge gliding alongside its most important roadway and the 10th Avenue Meadow Path whereas concurrently having fun with among the metropolis’s finest people-watching alternatives.
Should you don’t have your individual gear, you may lease from Skate Escape, which is positioned proper throughout from the park on the 12th Avenue entrance.
We’ll go forward and acknowledge proper up entrance that we’re biased in the direction of Pink Prime. It’s the closest of Georgia’s state parks to our home, we preserve our pontoon boat docked close by, and after we’re not touring the realm is our residence away from residence.
The 1,562-acre park, which was named for the iron-rich soil’s deep pink colour, is positioned simply 45 minutes from downtown Atlanta, making it one in every of Georgia’s hottest out of doors recreation locations.
Set on the 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona, the park attracts avid boaters and fishermen year-round. Its 15.5 miles of mountaineering trails present frequent wildlife sightings (together with herons, egrets, kingfishers, osprey, geese, and geese) and spectacular views of autumn colours.
Simply final week, we watched a household of 4 deer frolicking and feeding in a cove there for practically an hour. And we had been happy to see that a number of scenes from season 2 of Netflix’s Ozark had been shot there. It’s actually a magical place!
Made well-known by nation singer Alan Jackson, the Chattahoochee River stretches from northeast Georgia down via metro suburbs reminiscent of Roswell. “Taking pictures the ‘hooch” on a raft, tube, canoe, or kayak has been a neighborhood custom for many years.
In recent times, Excessive Nation Outfitters has been providing a brand new method to expertise one in every of Atlanta’s favourite out of doors recreation pastimes, with 3- and 6-mile jaunts down the river’s in-town coronary heart (from Powers Ferry Rd to Paces Mill Rd) through stand-up paddle board.
“We acquired into stand-up paddle boarding a number of seasons in the past,” says veteran information John Sloane, whose dad and mom personal the corporate. “I feel that’s going to be one of many larger issues on the river. It’s a very easy factor that anyone can exit on the Chattahoochee and revel in.”
The corporate has a number of licensed paddleboard instructors on employees, in addition to gear leases for self-guided journeys.
“We’ve all sat down in a kayak or canoe and floated down the river. However while you’re on a paddleboard, it’s like strolling on water, and likewise an incredible exercise. It’s very straightforward to do and really forgiving in your physique, however it’s a tremendous exercise out of your toes all the best way as much as your shoulders, particularly your core.”
READ MORE: The 20 Longest Rivers in the World
TAG is the favored nickname for the attractive space within the Cumberland Plateau the place northwest Georgia meets Alabama and Tennessee.
Thanks largely to the Southeastern Cave Conservancy, has lured spelunkers from world wide desperate to discover its labyrinthine underground passages. Pigeon Mountain is especially widespread because of its huge community of limestone caves.
Pettijohn’s Cave has six miles of beforehand mapped passageways that always entice a wholesome weekend crowd, whereas the 13 miles of Ellison’s Cave which have been explored embody the 440-foot deep Unimaginable Dome Pit and the 586-foot deep Unbelievable Pit.
Underground areas could be extraordinarily harmful for individuals with out correct gear caving expertise. So please study concerning the sport earlier than embarking in your first spelunking expedition, and we suggest hiring native guides if attainable.
North Georgia is famend for its many wonderful waterfalls. However this lesser-known recreation space positioned within the Tallulah Basin arguably options among the best.
Panther Creek Falls is accessible through a picturesque six-mile path via a forest crammed with 100-foot-tall timber, flowering shrubs, and moss-covered rock cliffs.
Panther Creek drops practically 1,000 toes from Stony Mountain on its method in the direction of the Tugaloo River, with a sequence of killer cascades main to 2 spectacular waterfalls.
The hike is lengthy and considerably difficult, significantly after a rain, however the dramatic view on the backside is properly well worth the effort. Should you go within the summertime, take a swimsuit alongside so you may take a dip within the refreshing water, which stays pretty cool all yr spherical.
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Visiting Stone Mountain Park, which is positioned simply exterior the I-285 perimeter, has been one in every of household’s favourite issues to do in Atlanta for greater than 40 years now.
Within the summers after I was a child we’d typically take picnics and go to the “laser present spectacular.” When my daughter was younger, we went to their annual Pumpkin Pageant each Autumn. Even now, Stone Mountain Christmas stays one in every of our favourite Christmas light displays in Georgia.
From the bottom, their action-packed Sky Hike attraction doesn’t appear all that intimidating. However climb the steps to the third degree of this ¼-mile rope course, and it’s possible you’ll end up questioning the “average” adrenaline ranking.
To navigate the course, you’ll must cross suspended wood bridges, leap from one skinny wood slat to the following, and stability on wiggling tightropes 40 toes above the bottom as your arms sweat and legs shake.
Fortuitously, there are additionally 12- and 24-foot-long rope course trails for newbies (or these with a wholesome concern of heights).
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North Georgia’s Chattooga River might be most well-known because the place the place a lot of the basic motion flick Deliverance was filmed.
Designated by Congress as one in every of America’s “Wild and Scenic” rivers again in 1974, the Chattooga gives challenges for rafters of all talent ranges within the picturesque setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
For extra excessive journey lovers, there’s Part IV, the place Class IV and V speeding whitewater speeds you down the river at a breakneck tempo, climaxing with an invigorating plunge down the legendary 5 Falls and Soc-em-Canine.
For households looking for a kinder, gentler trip, there’s additionally Part III, a beginner-friendly float journey with a Class IV ending at Bull’s Sluice. Going with an skilled tour clothing store reminiscent of Southeastern Expeditions will guarantee most security and pleasure of your trek.
READ MORE: Rafting the New River Gorge, West Virginia
Image your self strapped onto a suspended cable excessive up in a lush forest cover, hovering among the many treetops, tiptoeing throughout two sky bridges, and racing your pals as you zip over speeding river rapids.
Impressed by their travels overseas, North Georgia Cover Tour house owners Kirk and Leah Watkins have recreated the favored Costa Rican adventure within the foothills of the Appalachians.
The heart beat-pounding, mile-long zipline course takes you round and throughout the Ocoee River, offering spectacular views of serene surroundings that may go away you breathless and begging for extra.
“We’re positioned on the tail finish of the Appalachian area and the northern border of the southern area,” says course supervisor Jonathan Marziliano. “So we now have numerous wildlife in addition to some hen migrations that you just received’t discover elsewhere in Georgia.
“We’ve got three zips that cross over the North Ocoee River and some ponds on the property, so that you get ample alternative to see quite a lot of wildlife, together with squirrels, birds, fishes, beaver, deer, and even wild turkey.” –by Bret Love; all state park pictures used courtesy of Georgia State Parks
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