State Parks In North Georgia
Listing and description of State Parks in North Georgia and the many offerings they have for visitors to the area.
The North Georgia area, beautiful by anyone’s standards, is enhanced by the existence of several state-regulated parks, not only for their part in preserving the area, but for their role in making areas more easily accessible to visitors. Spring through late fall is the busiest part of the year for North Georgia’s state parks, and the adventurous traveler can find plenty of spots for hiking, fishing, canoeing, boating, skiing, camping, and more.
Amicalola Falls State Park is found in Dawson County. It is the home of Georgia’s tallest natural waterfalls, and is also the starting point of the Appalachian Trail. While here, one should also visit Burt’s Pumpkin Farm. It is, just as the name implies, a pumpkin farm, so one would visit, most certainly, in October. But, from September 1st until November, one can visit the farm for daily hayrides, as well. Also, beginning in November until the end of December, Burt’s showcases a spectacular display of Christmas lights.
The highest park in the state can be found in Rabun County--Black Rock Mountain. Its extensive hiking trails and beautiful, not to mention plentiful, flora and fauna make it one of the best sites in the state for the adventurous outdoorsman. The park contains some of the oldest landmasses on Earth--it’s estimated that the roots of the mountain are somewhere around one billion years old, with the topsoil being much younger. At the time of their formation, it has been estimated that the mountains here were between five and ten miles in height. Time has weathered away their height, but their continuing ruggedness cannot be disputed.
Rabun County also boasts Moccasin Creek State Park. Fishing, swimming, and canoeing are available in Lake Burton, and camping is available year round. Hiking, of course, is an option at Moccasin Creek, with trails available for the very experience to a walking trail perfect for those with children.
Tallulah Gorge State Park stretches across both Rabun and Habersham Counties. Once a huge tourist attraction, the old train depot in the town of Tallulah Falls still stands, but has been converted into a store. Tallulah, with its beautiful waterfalls, earned the nickname “Niagara of the South.” Unfortunately, “progress” in the early 1900’s resulted in the building of a dam and the restriction of water to the falls, and the glory days of tourists and trains died, taking the heart of the town with it. But finally, in 1993, Governor Zell Miller took an interest in the area, and Tallulah Gorge State Park was created. Responsibility for the care of the park is unique, as it is shared by both the State of Georgia and Georgia Power, the owners of the dam. Today, there is much to do at Tallulah Gorge--swimming at the white sand beach along Tallulah Lake; picnicking; hiking; there is even a conference center available.
In Dade County, we find Cloudland Canyon State Park. The park offers hiking, camping, swimming, and tennis, and is only a few miles from one of Georgia’s oldest attractions, Rock City, from which, of course, one can “SEE SEVEN STATES.”
When in Murray County, one can visit Fort Mountain State Park. One attraction, other than the hiking trails that are found here, is ‘the wall.’ A stone wall is found at the top of the mountain, and its purpose or time of construction is not firmly known. The wall, 855 ft. long and ranging in height from 2’ to 6’, has been dated as being built somewhere between 500 B. C. and 1500 A. D. Current theory puts the dating at 500 A. D., and suggests that the most likely reason for the wall was some sort of religious significance, maybe something involving astrology. Swimming and camping can also be enjoyed at Fort Mountain State Park.
In Chattooga County is James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park. It is a smaller, quiet park, containing two lakes, campsites, and lovely picnic facilities. One can fish or swim in either lake, but only rowboats, canoes, or electric-powered boats are allowed on either.
Red Top Mountain State Park is found in Bartow County along Lake Allatoona. Red Top Mountain boasts hiking, fishing, camping, horse trails, and a marina. In addition, Red Top Mountain is more easily accessible than most North Georgia state parks, being only 40 miles north of Atlanta and 1.5 miles east off of I-75.
Unicoi State Park is found in White County. Its points of interest include a conference center, cottages, a lodge, campgrounds, hiking trails, and beaches for easy access to the lake. Unicoi State Park is near the popular tourist town of Helen. Helen is an “Alpine village,” and should not be missed, especially if you are in the area during “Oktoberfest,” which is held from mid-September to early November.
Finally, in Union County, is Vogel State Park. Vogel is the second-oldest park in Georgia, located in the Chattahoochee National Forest near Blood Mountain. It was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC dammed Wolf Creek to form Lake Trahlyta, and the area also boasts numerous hiking trails and over 100 sites for camping. Also of interest is Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain peak in Georgia, stands at 4,784 feet.
One should call ahead when planning visits to these areas, to confirm specific dates and facilities, as well as to make any necessary reservations.